A good meal starts with a detailed recipe. But, if you skip even one of the steps in the instructions, your finished dish may not look like the recipe photo at all.
An internal communications strategy can be a recipe for success, but without a detailed plan to execute that strategy, you may wind up with the equivalent of soggy bottoms. Adding a content plan to accompany your strategy can improve internal communication within your organization.
Without specific details on how you will implement your internal communications strategy, your messages may fall flat with employees. A content plan will help ensure your messages are aligned with business goals, make the most of each channel, and set the tone for two-way communications.
Improve internal communication with a content plan
When planning your internal communications content, remember to align messages with a business goal. Formal internal communications, by nature, usually have a clear tie to business goals. But even less formal communications should clearly align with these goals as well.
If one of your goals is to increase employee understanding of your industry, your communications tools can support that goal. Start by including a knowledge sharing element as a regular item in your internal communications plan. Share a relevant industry article each week through your employee newsletter or a post on your digital communications tool. Include specific details about its contents, and even share a favorite takeaway, or two!
Choose a day of the week to share and create a clever headline or hashtag like #TheMoreYouKnow, so employees know when and how to watch for the message. To diversify topics and voices, assign each department a week to share an article that relates to their specific roles.
With a detailed plan, you can support more than one business initiative. By encouraging a variety of departments to share on an interactive platform, you not only increase employees’ industry knowledge, but you also create a digital place for employees across departments or geographies to connect. Those digital interactions can support culture and engagement initiatives, too.
Variety is the spice of life
It’s important to gather stakeholders, including senior leadership, together in the early stages of strategy and content planning to improve internal communication. Typically, decision-makers and the team that will own the responsibility for the various communications platforms attend goal-setting and brainstorming sessions.
You can also expand the conversation by asking for a representative from each department to attend these meetings. When legal, IT, marketing, human resources, as well as mid-level management are all represented, you can design a more robust content plan that will prevent future headaches and serve all employees well.
When I first meet with a client, we talk about business goals, challenges, and how communication can support a variety of initiatives. I also make sure to ask “What do your employees care about? What’s going on in their work lives? What messages fall through the cracks?” Employees have different needs and interests they bring to work each day. This information can guide the types of content you create.
Departments interact with employees in slightly different ways, so each representative brings a unique perspective on what messages they feel are most important for employees. The human resources team may advocate for recognition messages while executives want to share the organizational vision. Mid-level managers may have insight into how and when employees have access to internal communications channels. This information can help you determine which channel is best for each message. When everyone is aligned early on, you can set priorities and ensure each department’s needs are met.
Lead the way with content
Two-way communication channels are bringing the employee experience to life in a way that is new to many organizations. Employees are accustomed to a static intranet page, monthly employee newsletters, and external social media accounts to interact with customers. However, digital internal communications tools are still relatively new, especially in enterprise settings.
In the office, we learn the culture of the company through our experiences and interactions. It may take a few weeks or months, but in time, new employees learn what acceptable office behavior is. It can be a bit more challenging in digital environments.
People love to talk about themselves, but sometimes the boundaries within a professional organization are unclear. Employees are still learning the nuances of enterprise communications tools. They may be curious, “Can I interact with this? Can I share a photo of my child? What am I allowed to do?” Each organization has its own unique culture and guidelines, so leaders and communicators must set the expectations for employees through the types of content they share.
When leaders model expected behaviors, especially with a new communications platform, employees gain an understanding of what content is acceptable. Once employees understand the boundaries of communication tools, they are more willing to share similar content more organically.
Additionally, content planning can also help establish habits for how employees use communication tools. If your goal is for employees to check your intranet or digital platform at least once per week, your content plan should include two to three posts each week. If you want to increase the open rate of your email newsletter, be sure to include columns and features that appeal to a variety of employees. Each time they open the email and see information valuable to them and their role within the company, you increase the chance of them reading again.
Not only does content planning help you support your initiatives, but establishing a clear communications plan sets you up for success when it’s time to measure your impact. Planning your content ensures messages align with business goals, are valuable to employees, and can help you improve internal communication.