Build a channel strategy that prioritizes content, optimizes format and gathers feedback
Ensuring all key-players are in-the-know and empowered to engage is critical, especially as workplace norms and expectations shift. To do this, you must develop an internal communications channel strategy that best fits your team’s needs.
For most companies, internal communications channels typically include a combination of intranet sites, meetings or presentations, emails, newsletters and television screens or digital signs. When evaluating an existing channel, or considering launching a new one, here are a few key questions to consider:
- What is the main purpose of the channel?
- Who is the audience?
- How do they like to receive information?
- What is the best format to reach them?
Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to focus on your channel strategy.
1. Define and document
It’s helpful to clearly define what the channel is – and isn’t. Creating these guardrails will help channel owners drive consistency, achieve the channel’s purpose and define what information audiences should expect and how to use it.
Documentation is critical. As you develop your channel overview or governance document, be sure to answer the following questions:
- What are the channel objectives?
- What is the channel format and frequency?
- What content or topics will be included, and how often?
- What are the channel criteria for content to determine what should/shouldn’t be published?
- What is the timeline for content development and expectations for content contributors?
- What is the review process?
2. Prioritize and optimize
Once your strategy is in hand, look at the channel format. Whether there are specific topics covered at the beginning of every meeting or highlighted resources at the top of every newsletter, creating a consistent format that prioritizes the content most important to your audiences establishes credibility and improves channel effectiveness.
- What content or topics are most important to your audience? How can you format the channel to prioritize this content?
- Are there recurring sections or topics to include?
- How can you use headlines, sub-heads or quotes to break up content?
- How can you minimize word count or link to more information to improve readability?
3. Feedback and connection
Now you have defined a strategy and identified opportunities to optimize channels. Before you execute on your plan, it’s important to consider implementing a feedback loop for two-way communication. Providing an avenue for shared proactive communication gives your audience a voice to improve alignment, feel connected and heard, ensure mutual understanding, and provides feedback for channel improvements. When evaluating what a feedback loop might look like for your channel, consider:
- Are there existing options (e.g., Q&A submission in meeting platform, liking/commenting functionality on intranet, shared email address)?
- Are there existing guidance or restrictions for these options?
- Do you have the ability to activate or access an existing channel? Are you able to implement a new one?
- What is your strategy to promote and maintain ongoing two-way communications?
With a clear strategy in place, you are ready to execute—but be sure to leave room for your channel to evolve. As a best practice, you should select a set of key performance indicators (e.g., open rates, read time, click-through rates) to monitor regularly. You also might consider conducting periodic surveys of your audience to gather additional quantitative and qualitative feedback. Moving forward, you can use this data to adjust aspects of the channel to better meet your audience’s needs, such as publishing content related to specific topics more frequently or revising the standard length of your copy.
Looking for a strategic partner to help you evaluate your existing mix of internal communications channels or even launch a new one? Contact us at Pivot to learn how our team can help you develop an effective communications strategy.
About the Author
Kirsten Norman, Senior Communications Consultant
Kirsten is a collaborative, thoughtful and strategic communications professional with a passion for translating business strategies and priorities in creative and meaningful ways for a variety of stakeholder audiences. With more than 15 years of agency and corporate communications experience, she brings a unique perspective to her work, drawing from her background supporting diverse industries, including agribusiness, energy, food safety, healthcare, hospitality, technology and more. Kirsten has also served as lead on numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives in addition to leading HR, DEI and Health & Safety communication programs.