What is an internal communication strategy?

Do you know what an internal communication strategy is?

Why do companies have internal communication strategies?

What should be included in an internal communication strategy?

If you’re stuck, you’re in the right place.

What is an internal communication strategy?

Having a solid, structured and relevant strategic plan can bring clarity and cohesion to your internal communication.

It’s not as complicated as you may think. Let’s break it down… being strategic means being proactive. Whereas being tactical is about being reactive.

An internal communication strategy is the thinking, whereas the internal communication plan is the doing.

Your internal communication strategy captures the thinking of your organisation, which in turn informs the way you communicate.

For me, it’s the what and why that are the most important for strategy, largely because the how, where and when are more tactical.

The Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) say:

“In general, internal communication strategies will be focused on defining big goals and the key actions that need to be taken in their pursuit. They are less likely to set out how these actions will be delivered in exhaustive detail – the tactics.”

The Government Communication Service (GCS) here in the UK say: ”

Organisations should develop, in consultation with senior business leaders and representative stakeholders, an internal communication strategy describing the current situation, agreed future state and means to achieving that future state.

How to write an internal communication strategy

The way I used to approach writing an IC strategy was like a map. I viewed an IC strategy as an outline of your organisation’s journey and the big picture of what you want to achieve.

Photograph of a lady reading a map. All Things IC logo in the corner.

I included:

– where you are now

– where you’re heading/want to be (objectives)

– how you are going to get there

– how long it will take and why

– what is involved along the way

– who is involved along the way

– why this approach is the best one

– how you’ll know when you’ve got there (measurement).

I often used the phrases I’ve bulleted above as part of the structure. Why? Because packing it full of jargon does no one any favours!

Remember what I wrote above… For me, it’s the what and why that are the most important for strategy, largely because the how, where and when are more tactical.

How to build an internal communication strategy

My thinking has evolved into the MILLER framework. It mirrors a lot of these points, but now includes more in-depth analysis, particularly in the insights section.

Creating an effective internal communication strategy for an organisation requires you to know what’s important for the business.

The Mindset stage of the framework, coupled with the Insights stage sets you up for success. You’ll know what to include and think through when you create your IC strategy.

The MILLER framework by Rachel Miller

What does an internal communication strategy look like?

Do you have a vision for internal communication in your organisation? If so, does it still represent current aspirations, or does it need updating?

Having a vision for internal communication can be helpful in an internal communication strategy. It can help you determine what good looks like and hold yourself to account.

How to write an internal communication strategy is my brand new All Things IC Online Masterclass. I’ve created the course to help you answer the questions in this article and many more.

The course is available today and you can save £200 until 30 April 2022 using the code strategyspecial.

So whether you have an existing strategy that needs updating or are about to write one for the first time, How to write an internal communication strategy Masterclass will equip you with everything you need to not only think strategically, but develop a strategic Comms Masterplan and deliver it.

As a result of completing the course, you’ll know how to write your own IC strategy. It uses my trademarked MILLER framework to guide you through each stage. You’ll learn how to write big goals, decide key actions and know what to measure.

Sign up today.

Internal Communication Strategy Masterclass by Rachel Miller.

All Things IC testimonial-Erica Goodwin

The course also includes some tactics, so you can tailor your approach. You know the culture of your organisation and what is expected. As you work your way through the course, it encourages you to consider how much detail you need to go into.

What’s in a name?

Whether you call it a strategic plan, Comms Masterplan or something else, my preference is internal communication strategy.

The word strategic is used a lot in the world of internal communication. Being a strategic internal communicator means creating time to think, which then allows you to plan effectively and know what you need to do.

Further reading: How strategy clarifies communication – my podcast interview with JM Lacey. You can also listen below.

How many people have IC strategies?

I blogged about the recent Gallagher State of the Sector 2021/22 survey: What does world-class internal communication look like?

As a recap, the survey is global and this year it had 1300 responses.

Graph showing how many IC pros have an internal communication strategy

Gallagher state: “Respondents this year reported even fewer established planning practices than last year. However, the decrease seems to be partly due to the larger proportions of respondents from smaller organisations, while those from larger organisations (with more than 2,500 employees) seem to demonstrate a much more robust and professional approach to internal communication. 

“Overall, the focus seems to be on planning on a campaign-by- campaign basis — and, disappointingly, only 31% of respondents say they have an overarching internal communication strategy in place (this does rise to 40-42% in larger organisations though). Even simpler tools, such as channel frameworks or channel-specific editorial calendars (whether for magazines, newsletters or the intranet), are not used by more than half of respondents. World- class communicators were much more likely to have established these documents, even if a surprising 8% said they didn’t have any of this.

“The biggest gaps between this group and the rest, however, were having an ‘Internal communication “master” plan’ and ‘Overarching internal communication strategy (covering a period of more than one year)’, which suggests that the ability of world-class communicators to focus on the longer-term and articulate goals enables them to have better conversations with leaders.”

What’s your experience?

A lack of IC strategy can be a hindrance for many practitioners, so the aim of my new course is to equip you with the tools, techniques and confidence to write your own.

What’s your experience? Perhaps you have a half-written document in your files, it’s a constant item on your to do list, or you would like to create one for the first time.

There is no judgement from us here at All Things IC, the purpose of the course is to meet you where you’re at. We’ve broken down the jargon, given you hints and used the MILLER framework as a structure you can follow whether this is your first IC strategy or the latest in a long line.

I believe every internal communicator deserves to thrive in their role and know how valuable All Things IC’s clients find having an internal communication strategy.

Now you can learn to do the same.

How to write an internal communication strategy is available today and you can save £200 until 30 April 2022 using the code strategyspecial.

As it’s an Online Masterclass, you can work through the course at your own pace using my learning platform. There are no live lessons and you have access for 12 months.

Congratulations to everyone who has already started the course.

Thank you for stopping by,


Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 11 April 2022.

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