Benjamin Franklin famously once said: ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.’ For any business activity, a plan provides a roadmap: a clear sense of purpose and direction.
And when it comes to developing an internal communications plan, the stakes are high.
Get your internal communication plan right, and you have a motivated, engaged workforce invested in the company’s success. However, get it wrong, and your employees will be disengaged, unmotivated, and disconnected from corporate goals.
Here we make it easy for you. We’ve built a ready to use internal communication plan template and we’ll show, step by step, everything you need to know to build a great Internal communication plan.
The best thing is that our internal communication template is completely free. Fully customizable, the template provides a blueprint to guide your planning.
What do you want to achieve with your internal communications? It’s a good idea to start with an overarching objective for the plan. This will provide a framework for the detailed plan.
Try to keep it simple. Too many objectives and you run the risk of diluting your purpose. Instead, to maximize your chances of success, focus on a couple of complementary primary objectives. And remember, your priorities will change over time. Next year’s internal communications plan will no doubt have different goals.
Do make sure that your objectives are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound). And use your business goals and KPIs as the starting point. That way, your internal communication plan will be closely aligned to corporate goals and business objectives.
Even within a small company, there will be several internal audiences. Your workforce is made up of different groups of employees with various jobs, responsibilities, communication preferences, and information needs.
Once you have identified your internal audiences, then consider their likes, dislikes, and communication preferences.
For example, younger generations tend to prefer social communication platforms. By contrast, older workers usually favor face-to-face communication. Sales personnel out on the road will require mobile-enabled platforms, while HQ staff are likely to be using desktop computers.
Having a better understanding of your audience will help you to tailor your internal communications more effectively.
What are the key messages you want to get across? To help with your messaging, think about your target audience. Try to answer the what’s in it for me question that will be in the back of their minds. Consider using facts, data, or stories to support your communication and bring it to life for the audience.
There are several techniques you can use to help. Some companies undertake a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Many find it a useful framework for developing detailed goals and objectives for the plan’s messages.
Others prefer the 5Ws and an H tool. This technique involves asking a series of questions to inform the message creation process: what, why, where, when, how, and who.
These tools are useful in providing the right context. And they will help you craft messages that are relevant for your audience.
Try to keep your messages simple and concise, so everyone will easily understand them.
The internal communications plan needs to be relevant to everyone in your organization. Think about your target audience and the key messages, then identify the best channels for getting the message across.
It’s a good idea to have a wide range of communications channels to reach as many employees as possible. Here are some possibilities:
Before making your final selection, why not ask staff for their views. A snap poll or employee pulse survey can provide some hard data to back up your choices.
It’s a good idea to test out the objectives and targets with staff first before you finalize the plan. Use this step to experiment with different ideas so that you get it right.
The best way to do this is to do a test run. Use a small sample of employees and gauge the response. Are the channels you selected the right ones? Is the language you used accessible? Does the message resonate with workers?
Record your results and use the data to scale up on the most successful ideas in the final communications strategy.
This final step is one of the most important. Otherwise, how will you know if your plan is successful. Use a range of metrics to determine success. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Review progress regularly. When an objective is achieved, take the time to discuss any lessons learned or improvements that could be made next time.
The internal communications plan is a living document. Priorities, methods, and messages will evolve over time in light of experience, changing technology and markets.
Incorporate review mechanisms in your planning to ensure you always strive for continuous improvement.
Are you ready to take the next step? Download our internal communications plan template. Simple and easy-to-follow, the template will get your planning off to the best possible start.
According to Gallup, only 13% of employees strongly agree their leadership communicates effectively with the workforce. Make sure your business is one of them.
Use the guidance here and the template to improve internal communications in your organization.