What is an internal communication channel strategy?
Channel strategy can have a lot of different meanings in different contexts, but here (where we’re talking specifically about internal communications best practices), it means adopting a strategy for how you’re going to best use the various channels that information travels through and/or lives in within your organization. An internal communications channel strategy aims to manage where your message and your audience meet.
Why have one? What’s the risk in skipping it?
Predictability may sound boring, but consistency has a whole other ring to it. The idea is to get your employees to expect certain information to appear in dependable places (ideally in some kind of regular cadence, but the timeline is a topic for another day!) and to make sure that when they go looking for information, it’s simple and intuitive for them to find the most correct, relevant and up-to-date material.
The business cost of employees operating with out-of-date, incomplete or just plain incorrect information is where your risk really sits.– Erin Raimondo, Internal Communications Specialist at IC Thrive
It might occasionally be an up-front, quantifiable major error (ie. the wrong information leads to a lost account or penalties), but most of the time, chances are that it’s showing up in opportunity costs, churn and retention, or other proxy measures.
Internal Communications Best Practices on How to Build a Channel Strategy
- Audit your channels. Not just the official ones! A channel audit will give you an idea of what the current landscape looks like: all the available routes, and what traffic currently looks like on each one. Make the effort to find all the channels that communication currently flows through in your organization; you might make different choices if you find out that entire locations or departments have great adoption of a channel you haven’t even considered!
- Note: if you’re conducting any general staff or employee engagement surveys, that’s a good time to ask about channel preferences!
- Make the call: mandate (an) official channel(s) or meet them where they’re at. Both have benefits and drawbacks, and a lot of those depend on your corporate structure, culture and workforce demographics. Consider your priorities and decide which method will meet them the best!
- Establish your single source of truth. Employees need to know where to go for the most up-to-date, accurate information, and they need a level of trust that that information is in fact the current ‘truth’. Some are better (a well maintained and governed intranet), some are worse (email chains), but the first thing to do is identify one—and then start using it like one.
- If you are using multiple channels (even if it’s just email and a shared drive), make a plan for what types of information are shared on each one, and start establishing consistency.
- Evaluate and refine.
One last note!
When you’re thinking channel, think broadly: email is definitely a channel. So is an intranet, if you’ve got one (if not, check it out). But so is Slack, Teams, a shared drive, a stand-up huddle, a bulletin board, a digital screen…I mean, you get the idea. Making the most of the tools you’ve got starts with taking a full inventory!
Add the power of our intranet software to your Internal Communications Strategy. Schedule a free demo today! And be sure to check out our free assessment tool to get a good idea of your current standing with your internal comms strategy!