How good are your planning skills? Need a helping hand? Today I have a guest post and template for you thanks to strategic communications professional Saskia Jones.
Saskia (pictured) has wide-ranging experience and has kindly shared her recommended advice to help you plan your internal comms.
Her latest role was Head of Communications Engagement at Oxfam, responsible for brand, strategy and internal communications. Engaging over 5,000 staff and 22,000 volunteers around the world, her team communicated with staff and volunteers in over 50 countries and 650 shops in the UK.
Saskia and her team have won multiple communication awards in recent years. This includes Saskia being awarded ‘Internal Communicator of the Year’ at the Institute of Internal Communication Icon Awards.
2020 update: I’m devastated to say unfortunately Saskia passed away in January 2020. You can read her obituary from the Institute of Internal Communication online. She was such a guiding light in the world of IC and I enjoyed collaborating with her on posts like these to help other internal communicators learn. She will be missed by me and so many others in the world of Comms.
Here’s her article…
Free internal comms plan guidelines
Sometimes planning can feel cumbersome, when a response is needed fast and the temptation is to dive straight in and deliver.
A recent global IC survey by Poppulo found that 45% of internal communications are unplanned and ad hoc.
But with this internal communications plan guidelines, planning can be quick and simple. It gives you a tool to have at your fingertips whenever you need it.
Take it to meetings, use it to guide discussions with your partner team or use it on your own. Its purpose is for IC pros to use it to develop a communications plan.
Tip: This should be a living document, accessible by others. Use it in discussion with your partner or team to form the plan, align it to business objectives and use it to get approval.
Download the planner
Further reading on the All Things IC blog: How to be a trusted adviser
Further reading on the All Things IC blog: How to write an internal communication strategy
Further reading on the All Things IC blog: Bust the jargon with my IC glossary.
Want to learn more about internal communication?
Sign up to my Online Masterclass: How to be an internal communicator.
Five tips to help you apply the guidelines
1. Set measurable objectives
Often objectives are vague, such as ‘Raise awareness of the new social media policy’. Make yours SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. This will help you focus on what needs to be achieved. For example, ‘Ensure all staff are aware of the new social media policy and sign that they have read it by end of Q4.’
Have a singular vision for success: what is the single most compelling idea you want remembered?
2. Be specific about your audience
Often when meeting internal teams, they’ll want their initiative to reach “as many people aspossible”. It’s useful to explore with them specifically who they want to reach, and for what reason. Once you explore this together, you’ll often find a smaller, more distinct group is appropriate.
Ask about the current attitudes and knowledge of your audience. What do they know and think now? What do you want them to do differently as a result of your communications? Crucially, explore‘what’s in it for them’. This will help you craft messaging.
3. Ensure tactics match audience preference and need
Once you’ve honed in on your specific audience, try to understand more about their communication preferences. Where are they based? Do they have regular access to a computer or are they mainly on the road/in the field? Is it a message for managers to share with their teams?
By understanding these areas, you can decide which communication is best for them. It might be a podcast they can listen to on the go; a video conference they can join or a town hall meeting – or all three. Vitally, avoid the temptation to be driven by product rather than purpose.
For instance, you might be asked to create a video, or a newsletter – but before launching in, make sure this is what would work best for your audience to achieve your objective.
4. Measure outputs and outcomes
As I mentioned in my previous blog, ‘5 barriers to effective internal comms measurement’ it’s not enough to just measure reach (number of page hits, downloads, attendees etc).
Find ways to also measure what employees think, feel and do, by using techniques such as questionnaires, interviews, or focus groups. For instance, you could have a quick five-question poll asking employees to rate the value of a video, webinar or information pack. Or you could call a dozen employees and ask them the top three learnings they gained from a given meeting or conference.
5. Plan, do, review
Simply knowing the activity was completed is not enough. When your communication initiative is achieved, get together with your partner team and discuss learning and next steps. What would you do differently next time? Were things delivered on time and on budget? Work should always be an iterative process – strive for continuous improvement.
With all of this, aim to keep stripping it back to basics. Don’t over-complicate it with pages of information. By spending time perfecting your plan and ‘lining up all your ducks in a row’ you are putting off action. It can also risk you becoming formulaic and stale. By keeping it focused, you’ll know the most crucial elements and have more headspace to be creative, flexible and have fun.
Download the planner
Post author: Saskia Jones.
Thank you Saskia.
What do you think of her template? How will you use it? Do let comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.
Further reading: 31 books to help you learn about communication.
Further reading: Five reasons to get help with change comms
Further reading: GDPR advice from internal comms practitioners
Further reading: Three things you need to know from IoIC Live 2018 – day one
Further reading: Three things you need to know from IoIC Live 2018 – day two.
Learn about internal communication with me
Are you a professional communicator in need of a knowledge or confidence boost? Perhaps you’re curious about Comms theory and trends, but struggle to find the time to learn.
All Things IC Masterclass attendees say my courses leave them feeling inspired, full of ideas and ready to turn plans into action. I’ll help you to build on what you already know and explain fresh ideas.
I’ve trained nearly 1000 Comms professionals face-to-face since 2016 and now we can work together wherever you are in the world.
I’ve translated my years of experience into brand new Online Masterclasses and will be with you every step of the way. Each course has bespoke videos, workbooks, text lessons, quizzes and surveys to help you immediately apply what you learn.
There are three topics to choose from:
- How to be a Comms Consultant – Exploration. This is for aspiring Comms Consultants and is an In-depth level Masterclass. Your investment is the launch price of £600 or £800 for the VIP option.
- How to be an internal communicator. This is for you if you’re new to the wonderful world of internal comms, need a refresher or to learn quickly. Your investment for this In-depth level Masterclass is the launch price of £600 or £800 for the VIP option.
- Introduction to internal communication channels. This is an Introductory level course and your investment is the launch price of £199 or £399 for the VIP option.
The beauty of the courses is you have 12 months to access the content from the date you enrol. It’s your course at your pace, so you may decide to study intensively, which will take you one-two days. Or you can study at your own pace, choosing a chapter a week/month, it’s entirely up to you.
Congratulations to all the Comms professionals who have enrolled, started and even completed their Online Masterclasses. Your peers in the US, UK and Norway have already invested time in their professional development and experienced these courses at their own pace.
See the Online Masterclasses website to find out more and enrol today:
Thank you for stopping by
Hire me to support you
There are a number of ways I can support you either 1-2-1 or with your team. I have a range of options to suit every budget.
I regularly run bespoke Masterclasses for practitioners and their teams.
Thoroughly enjoyed running my second bespoke Masterclass of the week. I spent this morning helping a client’s team learn and think about Strategic IC and Change Comms. Had the added bonus of being in this stunning room https://t.co/cK7OsY5lVL #LoveMyJob #InternalComms pic.twitter.com/eh1dKXX1aw
— Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC) May 17, 2018
— Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC) May 15, 2018
— Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC) January 12, 2018
— Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC) March 14, 2017
— Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC) March 26, 2018
Do let me know what you need.
First published on the All Things IC blog 14 May 2018.