Don't Put Internal Communications in the Corner

My first real PR job, like many other fresh-faced, straight-out-of-college newbies, was in internal communications. For many aspiring communicators, internal or employee communications is where you earn your stripes and cut your teeth until you’re deemed ready for the big leagues – the glamorous world of external communications and media relations.This perception has continued throughout my career, as time and time again I’ve seen internal communications being overlooked by organizations that are laser-focused on communicating with their external audiences and customers. This mindset undermines your overall communications program.

My words of wisdom — internal communications is vital to the success of your external communications. Developing and deploying an engaged, educated and energized workforce to share your organization’s messages and mission, both internally and externally, is a tremendous asset. At FH, we love internal communications! Whether we’re helping organizations define their brand promise to unite employees or successfully navigate workplace culture shifts due to generational differences, we know looking under an organization’s communications hood is the starting point for the most successful strategies and plans.If you’re evaluating or implementing an internal communications program, here are a few tips to set you on the road to success.

1. Internal communications should not be an HR functionInternal communications programs are often placed under the human resources department, which in many circumstances is not ideal. A successful internal communications program needs at least one dedicated, experienced communicator to develop and maintain a thoughtful, effective program. HR professionals have plenty of other important duties to manage; leave the internal communications to your corporate communications department or PR agency.

2. Internal Communications is about ListeningWhen developing an internal communications program, it’s important to gather feedback from employees and other key internal audiences. We often conduct focus groups with employees, including leadership, to discuss what’s working and what’s not when it comes to communications, including how (and how often) audiences want to receive communications. Gathering input from your audiences before developing a plan helps you address real needs and create buy-in for your program.

3. Internal Communications is more than a NewsletterInternal newsletters can be effective tools, but comprehensive communications programs require much more. Town hall meetings, intranets, department meetings, text messages and even old-fashioned bulletin boards should be considered depending on what you learn from employee feedback about communication preferences. Keep your mind open to creative ways to engage internal audiences.

4. Internal communications is everyone’s BusinessThe most effective internal communications programs involve engagement and commitment at every level – entry-level employees to the CEO. Leadership must demonstrate its commitment to open, transparent discussions by actively communicating with internal audiences, while employees need to ask questions, and provide feedback. An effective communications plan will include platforms and tactics to keep the lines of communication open between all facets of an organization.Where does your organization fall on the internal communications spectrum – dud or superstar? Find out with our Trust Communications Audit Checklist, available free for download at