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. You can connect with her on Twitter @saskiahjones and LinkedIn.
I‘ll hand you over to her…
Free internal comms plan template
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 template, 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 team to form the plan, align it to business objectives and use it to get approval.
You can access the template below and here: Internal-Communication-Plan-Template.
Five tips to help you apply the template
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.
Post author: Saskia Jones.
Thank you Saskia.
What do you think of her template? How will you use it? Do let us know by comment below or Tweeting @AllthingsIC.
Further reading: 31 books to help you learn about communication.
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.
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First published on the All Things IC blog 14 May 2018.