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Two chat bubbles (one orange and one blue) are floating in the center of the image. Maintaining open lines of communication is essential for businesses to operate smoothly. This blog explains the importance of internal communications for businesses and the various tactics companies can use to ensure information is following throughout departments.

How to Build an Internal Communication Strategy for Your Businesses

TJ Kiely

Sep 2, 2021

External communication channels might take up most of your time, attention, and marketing resources. But it's important to find the best ways to share and engage with internal information too. In fact, good internal communication strategies are essential to your daily operations.

2020 Gallup research revealed that only 13% of employees strongly agree that the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with the rest of the organization.

That's a problem because good internal communication strategies promote better employee engagement. In turn, better employee engagement leads to stronger overall organizational performance.

Here’s how you can build an effective internal communications strategy.

Table of Contents:

What are Internal Communications for a Business?

A close-up image of a person's hands as they type out an internal newsletter for their business.

Internal communications for businesses are as they sound. They are the information you share with your employees and stakeholders about your business. That includes your communication with individual employees, teams, or the entire organization.

Communication goals are to keep employees connected to and engaged with your company.

Examples of common internal communications are:

  • Company announcements about mergers and acquisitions or new products or services
  • Announcements pertaining to company policies
  • HR communications such as information about benefits enrollment
  • Employee news such as new hire announcements

What are the Basic Methods of Communication for Businesses?

Communication icons.

Outside of company walls, brands are using multiple channels to connect with their customers such as social media, email, direct mail, the company website, and telephony, to name a few. The idea is to meet with customers wherever they are and make it easy for them to connect.

As more companies focus on employee engagement, they’re taking advantage of many of these same communication methods for their internal communications.

Internal Communication Methods

The basic methods of communication for businesses include email, online employee portals, dedicated employee phone lines, blogs, and intranet web pages. Companies can also use onsite digital signage for visual communication.

More traditional methods of communication include print media such as posters, newsletters, and notices, as well as face-to-face communication.

Creating an internal communications plan depends on many variables. For example, if your objective is to share information quickly, then you might turn to digital channels. This doesn't give you the benefits of eye contact or seeing facial expressions and gestures, but it does help to get the word out quickly.

If you are thinking about creating a newsletter, check out these examples of internal newsletters.

The Benefits of Different Communication Methods

Each of the communication methods businesses use offer different advantages. For example, email offers immediacy and cost-effectiveness, allows for direct responses from recipients, and provides a measure of access control. You can also track engagement such as open rates and click-throughs to see if your communication is effective.

Employee portals (or intranets) provide convenience and privacy, along with the ability to easily update messages. Companies can create specific campaigns and even personalized messages and updates for each employee.

Dedicated social media groups and purpose-built engagement platforms like Slack are growing in popularity. They’re streamlined and inexpensive, and messages can reach a lot of people in a short time span.

But arguably none are as beneficial as real-time face-to-face communication. Sharing a major company achievement or milestone, making an important announcement, or even breaking bad news through verbal communication gives the company a clear look at the impact of its messaging. You can see employees' body language and reactions. You gain the advantage of verbal and non-verbal employee feedback so you can transform your monologue into meaningful two-way conversations.

No matter which methods you include in your internal communication strategy, you may find that using multiple methods of communication is necessary to get the right message across in the right way.

How Do Internal Communications Differ from Customer-Facing Communications?

Internal communications are different from customer-facing communications largely because of the purpose and audience.

You use internal communications to keep employees informed about changes, updates, and key developments in your company. Then, employees have all the information they need to do their jobs effectively.

External communications focus on your customers and stakeholders. These messages are usually branded to ensure recipients make the connection between your message and your company.  

Both internal and external communications depend on a strong communications strategy. Having a plan gives you a blueprint for effective communication so your message resonates with the right people.

Why is Your Internal Communication Strategy So Important?

Effective communication is key to employee engagement. Employees feel like valued team members when the company keeps in touch and opens the door for employee feedback. This is important because 90% of employees say they are more likely to stay with a company that takes and acts on feedback.

Employees are an extension of the brand message, values, and vision that you project to outside audiences. Infusing your values into your internal comms helps your company share and maintain its image.

Just as you communicate with customers, stakeholders, vendors, and potential new hires, your communication techniques should be clearly documented. This ensures that no matter who is sharing information with employees, it is done so in a consistent manner that matches your brand and culture.

Having a communications plan also helps you capitalize on the benefits of keeping employees informed. Good communication fosters a sense of trust and value and helps employees feel like they are an important part of the team.

That’s why best-in-class brands never leave internal communications up to chance. When you put effort into developing and maintaining a communications strategy, you can consistently receive the benefits it’s designed to provide.

How to Build an Effective Internal Communications Strategy for your Business from Scratch

If you don’t already have an internal communications strategy in place, there’s no time like the present to create one.

Every company's communication strategy will look and function a little differently because it should be unique to your organization. Here’s how to build an effective internal communication strategy from the ground up:

Start with the "Why"

Deciding to implement a new internal comm strategy is a step forward. But consider what’s driving this decision.

For example, are you trying to increase employee engagement? Do you have a morale problem? Are you wanting to limit disinformation within the company? Do you want to strengthen your company culture?

A good strategy can help you achieve many goals. Deciding which goals are most important to your company can inform the way you build your plans.

Identify Key Metrics to Track

As with any type of information campaign, you should analyze your internal communications for success. You want to make sure your messages are reaching the right people and making the right impact. Otherwise, why bother?

Think about the metrics that will help you see whether your internal comm strategy is working. Some examples might include:

  • Engagement metrics, such as opens, clicks, and usage rates of internal communication tools
  • Employee turnover rates
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Adoption rates for new apps, programs, or company-wide services
  • Employee feedback
  • Employee referrals

You might even look at things like social media engagement and sales. Employees who are informed are more likely to become advocates for the products or services the company sells, which can translate into a louder external buzz with your customers.

Segment Your Internal Audiences

Networking icons.

Just like with external audiences, internal messaging isn’t one-size-fits-all. Some items might be relevant to every employee, while others might only affect a small team or group.

Think about how you can share the right messages with the right target audience. This way, employees don’t suffer from information overload and start tuning out all communications.

To start, segment your company’s different audiences (e.g., by role, by department, by part-time or full-time status, etc.). Then, decide who needs to receive the different types of content you share.

You might even choose to repackage content for different segments. For example, your sales team might need granular insights into revenue and company goals, but your marketing team might prefer higher-level insights.

Choose Your Communication Channels

Sharing messages with your intended audience isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity, either. In fact, 70% of employees feel left out of the workplace, with more than half saying they miss out on important information.

Internal communication strategies benefit from having more than one channel to ensure all key stakeholders have access to information. Some options worth exploring include:

  • Email
  • Communication apps (Slack, HipChat, etc.)
  • Internal social media platforms (Jostle, Igloo, Happeo, etc.)
  • Print media (flyers, posters, etc.)
  • Digital signage
  • Newsletters in the mail

Consider how to deliver Different messages that can be delivered in different ways. Sometimes, it makes sense to use more than one channel.

Establish an Approval Process

Two colleagues looking at a document.

Before communications go out to employees, you should establish some form of approval process. This ensures messages convey company priorities, are error-free, and support the company brand and image.

All departments should be aware of how internal communications are handled. Even if other teams or departments are creating the message, it should go through an official vetting process before being shared.

Most often, this responsibility falls on the marketing and communications team. They typically have access to the most up-to-date documents, resources, and other information. They can also align the message with the audience and channel.

Implement, Track, and Measure

Once you establish your internal communication strategy, continue to tweak and refine it. Look for what’s working well and what’s not. Keep making improvements and tracking its success so you can see how beneficial these changes are to your company.

Get your employees and C-suite involved in this process. After all, internal communications are meant to support them, not give you extra work.

Some questions you can ask include:

  • Do you feel informed about what’s happening within the company?
  • What are the best ways for the company to share important news and information with employees?
  • How can the company improve its internal communications?
  • What barriers prevent you from receiving internal information?

How to Improve an Existing Internal Communication Strategy

If you already have an internal communication strategy, it might be time to give it an upgrade. Knowing how to improve communication above and beyond what you’re already doing can help you increase employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.

First, take stock of your current strategy. How is it performing? Are you reaching the right people? What are the strategy’s strengths and weaknesses?

Next, think about the improvements you want to make. Do you need different tools or technology? Do you need to re-segment your audiences as people make vertical and horizontal career moves within the company? Any changes should put your internal communications in a better position.

Also, think about who needs to be involved in this process. What skills and resources do you need to make the necessary improvements? Get feedback from department leads, managers, and others to help you move forward.

Lastly, make sure you share any changes to your internal communications processes with the rest of the company. This will keep everyone in alignment with current messaging.

If you want more help crafting an internal newsletter or newsfeed to keep your executives, investors, or employees informed, get in touch today. Our newsletter and website newsfeeds allow you to curate a hand-selected feed of articles to share via branded email newsletters or a newsfeed that is distributed through the Meltwater platform but customized to your look and feel.