How to master internal communications: build a channel strategy

By Aimee Happ
December 22, 2020
5 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: channel! In this post, we’ll explore how you can audit your current channels and build an internal communications channel strategy.

The breakdown

According to Gallup, 74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news. The channel principle looks at the different ways information moves through your organization, from emails and Slack channels to bulletin board messages and newsletters.

Each individual and team in an organization will have different channel preferences and requirements, and to succeed as an internal communicator, it’s important to keep this in mind.

Here are a few key questions to ask:

  • What channels are available to your organization?
  • Which channel(s) would best suit the message you are sending?
  • Are there accessibility issues to any of your channels that might limit the success of your message?

Determine your current internal comms channels

Every organization has channels! Take stock of which ones you currently use the most. Here are some examples:

  • “Face-to-face” (or virtual meetings)
  • Online (email, intranet)
  • Social (Microsoft Teams, Slack)
  • Print (posters, magazine)
  • Physical spaces (whiteboards, digital screens)

Whether your channels are face-to-face, digital, written, or a blend of each, knowing which ones you currently use is essential to making any improvements.

Conduct a channel audit

Now that you’ve determined your current channels, it’s time to conduct an audit to see what’s working and what needs fixing! For each channel, try to outline the following:

  • Audience
  • Ownership
  • Purpose
  • Etiquette
  • Access

The goal here is to get a view of how to use each channel to get your message across. Look at all of them, even the little ones only used a couple of times.

A channel audit will give you an idea of what your current communications landscape looks like, all the available avenues, and what the traffic is on each one.

Click here to access our Channel Audit tool to help you structure and deploy your internal communications for maximum reach. 

Strong ContentEstablish your single source of truth

Employees need to know where to go for the most up-to-date, accurate information, and they need to trust that that information is reliable and current.

Some of these channels are better than others, but the first thing to do is identify one—and then start using it as your go-to “source of truth” channel.

Predictability may sound boring, but the idea here is consistency. You want your employees to expect certain information to appear in dependable places, and to make sure that when they go looking for that information, it’s simple for them to find.

Use polls & surveys

The IoIC survey found that the top ways to listen to employees’ views and concerns during the COVID-19 crisis is through managers, internal social media, and surveys and polls. Ask employees what channels or content they find most efficient for their jobs, and tailor your messaging to each.

Use your intranet to set up quick polls, or send them through a tool like Survey Monkey. Take some advice from your customer success team on how they get feedback. Just make sure there’s an option to maintain anonymity.

Put together an internal communications channel strategy

Putting together a comprehensive channel strategy is very helpful, as you will be able to link metrics to be reflective of each channel’s requirements and strengths.

Your channel strategy would also highlight any gaps in your communication. If the channels you rely on aren’t able to give you the numbers you’re looking for, then it’s time to expand your communication infrastructure.

For example, in our internal communications software with multi-channel messaging capabilities, administrators are able to see open rates, action rates, average response time, and the channel on which the end-user acted on.

If you need some help, read our best practices guide on creating a channel strategy. It includes three free internal communications plan templates to give you solid footing as you develop your strategy.

Determining the “right” channels

Despite the rise of video communication, standard channels like email aren’t going anywhere. However, it’s important to think beyond just email as a method of communicating internally.

A person who sits behind a computer all day is going to have vastly different usage for email than a frontline worker. Think outside the box when researching channels.

Why internal communications channel strategy is important

By understanding which communication channels are available, internal communicators can increase the efficiency of every message. Locating your audience is key to ensuring your internal communication is effective and strong.

The Internal Communications Assessment

Feeling overwhelmed and out of depth in your internal communications role? Take our 5-minute Internal Communications assessment!

Gain valuable insights and resources to help you improve your internal comms strategy, so you can build a collaborative, efficient, and morale-boosting work environment.

You’ll also walk away with a detailed scorecard, complete with handy resources to improve your internal communications overall.

Click here to take the assessment.
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.