Podcast: How to plan your 2022 internal communication

How is your 2022 planning going?

Need some help?

If so, this latest episode of the Candid Comms podcast is for you.

I cover:

  • Why you need to review 2021
  • How to look back before you go forward
  • How to get organised for the year ahead
  • The importance of analysing your work.

Do let me know what you think of this episode and don’t forget to rate, review and follow, so other Comms pros can benefit too.

You’ll leave with one thing to know, one thing to do, and one thing to think about.

The episode is available to listen to now. You can find the Candid Comms podcast on your favourite player including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean. Or you can listen below.

We will be taking a break next week, then back with episode five on 1 January 2022.

Do let me know what resonates with you from this episode. You can find me online @AllThingsIC on Twitter or @rachelallthingsic on Instagram.

Podcast: How to plan your 2022 internal communication

You’re listening to the Candid Comms Podcast with Rachel Miller. Join me every week for practical advice and inspirational ideas to help you focus on all things, internal communication related.

Hello, and welcome to the show. Today’s episode is focused on how to plan your 2022 internal communication. And you will leave with one thing to know, one thing to do and one thing to think about. Are you ready? Let’s get started.

I wonder when you are listening to this. Are you listening to this ahead of 2022 and you are super organised, or maybe you are listening to this at some point in 2022. Whenever you are listening to it, you will find content to help get super organised. So don’t worry. You’re not too late or you’re not too early. Now is the time for us to get organised. I’m going to kick us off by thinking about what we need to know. Now, when you are thinking about planning your 2022 internal communication, it’s probably fair to say that because 2020 and 2021 happened, the way that we plan internal communication has had to change.

If you are listening to this episode because you are not quite sure how to change your planning processes because of what we’ve been going through for the past couple of years, caused by the pandemic, then that’s my intention with this episode, to really give you some food for thought. I’ve got you covered. We’re going to work through it together. So what we need to know first is how to review your work. You and I could spend time thinking about the next 12 months and beyond and planning your internal communication, and doing a really good job together in a really thorough way. However, before we zoom off and come up with all kinds of plans and ideas, I encourage you to pause, reflect and analyse because if you don’t review what you’ve done to date, you can’t make informed decisions. So I’m going to encourage you to look back.

The more time that you spend reviewing what you intended to do, the better. I’ve created a whole course to help you do this. There is a brand new, All Things IC online masterclass, which is taught by Debbie West. And Debbie and I worked together to create this course to help you make sense of how to review your 2021 internal communication, and plan your 2022 internal communication. And the first part of that course is looking back. And there are workbooks in that course, and I’m going to talk you through some of the content that you’ll find. You can check out all of my All Things IC online masterclass, allthingsic.thinkific.com. But the first stage is the review part and that’s looking at what did we intend to do in 2021?

Candid Comms Podcast with Rachel Miller

If you can remember the back end of 2020, when you were planning for 2021, what did you want to achieve? How did you set out your store in terms of this is what good looks like for our internal communication throughout the next 12 months and beyond? You probably wrote it down somewhere. So dig that out, dust that off. If it’s not top of mind, and if it’s not to hand, have a look back. What did you intend to do in 2021? And you know what I’m going to say next? Did you achieve it? In order to review, it’s really important to look at how you set out your goals, your objectives, your ambitions, your visions, your aspirations, whatever you called them. Whenever you said that this time next year, we will have done X, Y, Z. Did you do it? As simple as that. And if you didn’t do it, why not? What got in your way? What were the barriers that stopped you from being able to do what you intended to do?

Now I think it’s fair to say Comms friends, that we have been through a situation like no other. I’ve been working in internal communication since 2003. I was a journalist for four years before that. And I have never known a time like the past couple of years in terms of the lack of certainty. When we plan our internal communication, we very often have certainty in terms, if these are the business priorities, this is the business strategy, this is what’s going to be important for our organisation over the next 12 months. What’s happened with the pandemic. And I don’t need to tell you this is that the rug got pulled from underneath us. All of a sudden, the best laid plans, the things that we thought would happen, couldn’t happen.

From my own experience, I opened the All Things IC Hub, which is my dedicated training centre in west London. It’s a confidential, nurturing environment that I have manifested and dreamt about for five years before that. I have a locked board, a secret board on Pinterest where I manifested it, and I imagined it and I dreamt about it. And I made it a reality.

And the doors opened at the end of January, 2020. I feel quite emotional saying that. But eight weeks later had to close the doors, having signed a four year lease. And I’m sharing that with you because from my own personal experience, all of my plans, everything that I thought would be happening then obviously had to change. And that’s why I’ve now developed online masterclasses.

Come and learn about internal communication face-to-face with Rachel at the All Things IC Hub. 2022 dates are now available.

And now at the end of 2021, I have resumed in person face-to-face masterclasses. And it is so wonderful to see you all in person. It’s absolutely … I can’t even tell you how good it feels to have been able to hang on to that really special place, the All Things IC Hub and get you back in there face to face, working together to improve and transform your internal communication. It’s wonderful.

But when I was planning 2020, and then what actually happened, couldn’t have been more different. It was chalk and cheese. So I’m mindful of that now. When I’m looking ahead and I’m trying to plan 2022, that lack of certainty that we’ve had in terms of I’ve been writing in pencil. I’ve been writing dates in my notebook and in my journals, in my diaries in pencil, because I’ve heard myself say, oh yeah, hopefully all being well, we’ll do X, Y, Z to friends, to families, to clients when we are trying to plan because we haven’t had certainty.

So what we are doing when we’re trying to plan our 2022 internal communication is we are trying to apply some certainty, but we are doing so on the understanding that things change. So as you are moving into this review period, and if you are looking back at 2021, have a look at what you intended to do, but be kind to yourself. Because we have been through, what the world has been through over the past couple of years, the best laid plans have not been able to happen for good reason. The reason behind doing a review is just to capture that. So what did we intend to do? What worked in the way that we hoped it would? And what didn’t we get a chance to do?

So the second part of our conversation, something I want you to do is I want you to make a note of those things that you planned to do that for whatever reason in 2021 didn’t happen. Maybe you hope to get people, if you have employees in office spaces, maybe you hope to get them back together in person before the end of the year. Maybe that happened, maybe it didn’t. Maybe you hope to have an in person recognition event. Maybe that’s happened. Maybe you’ve had to reimagine it and do a hybrid version or an all online version. Take time to capture this because I find particularly at the moment we are in this very reactive mode where we’ve had to be firefighting for the past couple of years. And what that’s meant is we might have plans in our head of what we want to do and how we want to be and where we want to go. And we’ve not been able to do it.

To plan your 2022 internal communication effectively, give yourself space and time to actually look at what do we plan to do that we’ve not been able to do? And then this is what I want you to do. Look at what you need to pull through to 2022. So maybe you wanted to refresh your intranet. Maybe you wanted to recruit to your team. Maybe, I don’t know, the list is endless and you will know this. What is it, if I said to you, what did you hope to do in 2021 that you’ve not had a chance to do for whatever reason when it comes to internal communication? What’s your answer. If something springs to mind, write it down. If you are out and about at the moment, you are walking the dog, or you are having a run or in the bath, wherever you are, make a note to come back to it, make a mental note.

I want you to write down, something I want you to do. What did we intend to do that we’ve not had the opportunity to do or not had the chance to do? And be clear whether you need to park it or move it over into 2022. Sometimes we need to park something. We might have intended to do something and actually for good reason, with what we had at the time we made the best decision. But actually the time’s not right, or our culture has changed, or our leaders have changed. And actually it’s right to park it, to leave it as it is and just move on from it.

I do this exercise with clients and it’s a really interesting one to do and a really useful one to do to look back before you go forward because often there’s little nuggets, there’s little things that we said that we would do, and we’ve not had a chance to do. And it’s not until you dust off last year’s plans to remind yourself because the world has changed so much over the past couple of years, that actually there was something that you put on a list that you said, this is important. We need to do this. And I found this when I’ve been analysing the cadence, the rhythm of internal communication with All Things IC’s clients. When I’ve been looking at the way organisations have been communicating, the pace has been frenetic. We’ve gone from monthly lists and quarterly that to daily, weekly, really always on internal communication. If you feel like that, you are not alone.

How to review 2021 and plan 2022

I’m finding now when I’m reviewing internal communication and I’m looking ahead to 2022 and all the possibilities and all the opportunities that lie ahead, can you do something about the rhythm? So if you are mapping out your internal communication channels, if you’re using a channel’s matrix, or if you’re using an editorial calendar, whatever you are using, however you are getting organised, where are the gaps? Look at the frequency of your internal communication? What’s the pace? I keep challenging people that I’m working with. When I look at the pace and it feels frenetic and it feels frantic, that’s entirely appropriate in crisis mode. However, we are not quite into business as usual mode as I’m in this at the very end of 2021. I think it’s fair to say we are not in business as usual mode in many organisations and in many countries around the world.

However, there are some green shoots. There are some opportunities to change the cadence. We still need to communicate. We still need to have two-way communication channels in place, but have a look at the rhythm. Do you need to have the daily this, daily that, weekly this, weekly that? Could you reduce the volume? Could you look at the cadence, the rhythm and change it? And if you could, what would the impact be? Could you free up some time? Could you free up some resource? And think about what that would signal to your employees, if they notice a change in the rhythm of your internal communication. It can start to signal a shift and some kind of business as usual. And I don’t want to say business as normal because we are not in a normal situation and we haven’t been in. And I don’t think we will be for an incredibly long time.

I encourage you to think about that. How could you make space within your internal communication? How can you make space for conversations? How can you make space to listen to your employees over the next 12 months by adjusting the rhythm of your internal communication, or by retiring those crisis comms channels that are not needed anymore? They’ve served their purpose, but maybe we need to archive some stuff. It may feel too soon. Whenever you are listening to this, it may feel too soon to do that. You know better than I do what’s right for the culture of your organisation and the markets that operate in. So make informed choices and decisions, listen to your employees, gauge the temperature, understand where they’re at, understand what the morale is like in your organisation and the sentiment in your organisation, and use all of that data and insight to make informed decisions about the way that your organisation communicates.

We are going to take a short break. And when we come back, I will leave you with one thing to think about. See you in a moment.

Welcome back. In the final part of today’s episode, I’m going to be sharing something for you to think about. And this is your 2022 action plan. Sounds good? Your action plan essentially is once you’ve done all the thinking that I’ve shared with you, you’ve looked back, you’ve reviewed 2021, you’ve looked at the goals that you wanted to do, you’ve had a chance to think through what you parked, and you’ve had a chance to think through what you want to do differently next year. This part is very much about where do you want to be in 12 months time? So as you think about your 2020 action plan, think about what does the organisation need from you as an internal communicator or your team? So what’s coming up? What’s on the calendar? What key events are you aware of? Whether that’s new products and service, whether your CEO is leaving, wherever it might be, you need to make a note of this.

And then you are overlaying into that your professional goals. There’s chapters in the course that will help you do this. But in particular, what I want you to be mindful of is what’s top of mind for other internal communicators? Now, one of the very best ways I know to find out what’s top of mind for internal communicators is to listen, is to ask. In October, 2021, I hosted The Big Yak unconference with my fellow IC crowd co-founders, Jenny Field and Dana Leeson. And we gathered 100 professional internal communicators together in person, which was amazing, to be face to face in London for the fifth unconference that we’ve run over the past 10 years. And during those conversations, the beauty of an unconference is that the attendees set the agenda on the day. So you don’t find yourself listening to speakers that you may not be interested in the particular topics that they’re talking about, but you are having to sit there and listen, because that’s the only option available.

No, no, it’s nothing like that whatsoever. If you’ve never been to an unconference before, I promise the format makes you think about every other conference that you’ll go to in future. As a result of running The Big Yak in October, 2021, I have really clear understanding of what’s top of mind for internal communicators. And I’ve got a whole list here that I’m going to share with you. So according to the 100 internal comms professionals in the room, the hot topics, things that are top of mind and therefore things that are going to be on their 2022 internal communication plans include things like hybrid working. What does it mean for your organisation’s culture, for your leaders and your comms channels? I’ve got a whole separate course on hybrid working to you, if you are struggling, if you’re trying to make sense of hybrid work in, check out the online masterclasses website. I’ll include a link in the show notes, allthingsic.com/podcast.

2022 internal communication

The other topics that are top of mind include wellbeing, behavioral science, purpose, diversity and inclusion, hybrid events, accessibility, creating an internal comms team, women’s safety, personal brand, channel strategy, leadership after COVID-19, line managers, measurement, engagement in tech, frontline worker comms, startups, and how to stay relevant. Such a long list there. I wonder which one of those resonates with you or whether a few of them resonate with you. What do you think of that list? If you think about what’s top of mind for you what’s missing from that list?

What are you struggling with? I’ve created this season of the Candid Comms Podcast, drawing on that insight that I heard firsthand at The Big Yak, because I know that they are the topics that you are struggling with and that you want to know more about. So you’ll find most of those topics woven throughout season three of the Candid Comms Podcast.

So I hope you found this episode useful to help you pause, reflect, analyse, and look back at 2021 to think about what’s important for your organisation for 2022, to give yourself the opportunity to pull forward things that you thought about for 2021, you didn’t get a chance to do that actually you need to do, to encourage you to park things that just aren’t relevant anymore for your organisation or your channels have changed, or your budget has changed. But just to capture them in one place, and to help you get organised for 2022.

I would love to know how you get on. What are you going to do differently as a result of listening to this episode of the Candid Comms Podcast? I’d love to hear from you. You can find me on Twitter @AllThingsIC. You can find the show notes at allthingsic.com/podcast. Look me up on LinkedIn, Rachel Miller, or you can find me on Instagram at Rachel All Things IC. I’d love to hear from you. Do feel free to get in touch and tell me if this episode has helped you for your 2022 plans and what stood out for you? What’s your key takeaway? And remember what happens inside is reflected outside. See you again soon.

Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 18 December 2021.

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