How to master internal communications: best practices for timing

By Aimee Happ
December 30, 2020
4 min read

Internal communications is about sending the right message to the right audience at the right time, through a channel that they prefer, with some metrics to measure success. All this starts with developing a great strategy, supported by ongoing analysis against company objectives. 

Our latest blog series is a deep dive into each of the 7 principles in our 7 Principles Methodology! The aim of this series is to help you become a masterful internal communicator, no matter your experience level.

Today’s principle is one that isn’t discussed as much, but should be—timing!


Read our latest eBook on the 7 Principles of Internal Communications.

Best practices for internal communications timing

The timing principle looks at the role of time and scheduling in your communication activities.

Let’s be clear, sending out an urgent tax form (or filing a self-assessment tax return) at 5PM on a Friday is a bad idea. As is sending out three different communications within a single hour. The key to effective internal communication is knowing the right time to communicate with your employees and team.

When people know they can expect a company update every Wednesday at 8AM, they will begin to expect this message and eventually fall into a habit of reading and engaging with it.

When practicing the timing principle in internal comms, the most important thing to understand is your audience. Let’s discuss how to determine an “ideal” time to send communications, the role of data and analytics in delivering a message at the right time, and the importance of knowing your audience.

Use your internal communications plan to determine the best time to send messages

Effective timing planning is a great way to make sure your message is always seen, and doesn’t get lost in a barrage of other activity. Here are some key questions to ask yourself when planning the timing of your messages:

  • When is the best time to send this message to a particular audience?
  • Does this provide me with a reasonable amount of time to receive the intended response or drive the desired action?
  • Is there consistency of cadence when sending this type of message?

You can reinforce the importance of timing planning by getting stakeholders on board with consistency and showing them that important and/or urgent messaging is more likely to stand out in contrast to consistent internal comms baselines.

Know your audience

Sound familiar? Isn’t it cool how all these principles intertwine with one another?

Knowing your audience is a big part of the timing principle, because each internal audience within your company will have different means of communicating and receiving information, both in preference and on a practical level.

If you know your internal audience(s) well, you’ll have a better understanding of what timing works best when delivering a message. For example, if you have frontline warehouse employees who work early shifts, you’ll obviously have to deliver those emails and newsletters earlier than to teams who primarily work at their desk from 9-5.

Understand your data & analytics

The State of the Sector 2020 report found that less than 20% of communications professionals regularly track the impacts of their internal comms efforts.

As with the other principles, make sure you’re regularly keeping track of your internal communications performance overall, including email open rates, click rates for newsletters, etc.

After you’ve determined the most effective times to send communications to your teams, any data you gather will help you determine whether that time really is preferable or if you need to make adjustments.

Timing is everything, especially in a crisis  

When a crisis hits (either internal or external), the general response is to throw the rulebook out the window and engage in panic mode. Don’t do that!

Thoughtful and consistent communication is crucial when crises emerge, such as a global pandemic. In times of crisis, heightened volume, urgency, and seriousness will occur, but all the same rules should still apply!  

There you have it! Timing is a huge part of internal communications no matter what your work landscape looks like. Start by answering the key questions we listed above, and use that information to determine the best time to deliver your messages to each of your internal audiences.

Conduct regular check-ins with your team to make sure everything’s going well and your messages are reaching. Studying data is crucial here, as it’ll help you figure out if your timing needs adjustments! Remember, this data will be fluid, so keep checking it regularly, get feedback from the team, and you’ll see internal comms success.

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By Aimee Happ

Aimee Happ is proud to lead the marketing team at IC and enjoys working with the dynamic and diverse team that surrounds her. She is inspired on a daily basis by the company's mission of empowering internal communicators. Aimee holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calgary and loves to travel.