How to Develop a Communication Strategy: Improving Communication Within the Team

A communication plan sets out the message, objective, and process of a company’s outreach activities. Whether a project is small or large, formal or informal, having a well-prepared communications strategy can help ensure a more organised, efficient project.

Delving into various strategies in detail can assist you in creating a robust communication plan to help you reach your target audience and achieve your goals. This article explores the types, benefits, and importance of communications strategies within an organisation and helps you understand what a solid strategy should include.

What is a Communications Strategy?

A communication strategy is a plan for getting your message across to the audience you’ve already pinpointed. A solid communication plan must clearly define three key elements vital to the strategy’s success: the audience, the message, and the channels through which the message will be conveyed.

The Importance of Having a Communication Strategy Within the Organisation

Your organization’s communication strategy is crucial to aligning your internal and external communications. When all your communications are guided by clear, coherent strategies, they support and strengthen each other. A well-executed strategy also helps prevent duplication, optimizing the ROI of all your communications.

Without an effective communication strategy across the organization, your messages are likely to become disjointed. At best, this could confuse both your internal and external stakeholders. At worst, it could erode the trust of customers, employees, or shareholders if they sense that conflicting messages suggest a lack of transparency or honesty.

External vs Internal Communication Strategy

There are various types of communication strategies, but the most common classification is based on internal communication strategy and external communication strategy.

  • Internal communication – sharing information and ideas within the organisation itself. This involves personal interactions, phone calls, emails, the intranet, or modern employee communication platforms.
  • External communication – sharing information both internally and externally. The primary aim of external comms is to convey important messages about the organisation’s work and quality to the outside.

What is the Difference Between a Communication Plan and a Strategy?

While both terms are often used interchangeably, there’s a distinct difference between a communication plan and a strategy.

A communications strategy is a comprehensive, detailed strategic planning document designed to guide the communications of an organization or a significant initiative or issue. This type of strategy encompasses an in-depth strategic considerations section providing a sound analysis of the internal and/or external environment. It is tailored to direct an organization’s high-level communications, often with a three-year time horizon, alongside a more detailed implementation plan for the first year.

On the flip side, a communications plan helps marketing or public relations teams align their communications and produce cohesive messaging. It follows the basic structure of a full communications strategy but offers less analytical detail. A communications plan usually includes more detailed information on implementation planning, like a work plan. In certain situations, a marcom plan is crafted alongside or as part of the communications plan to guide both marketing and communications activities in an integrated manner.

Communication Plan and a Strategy

Benefits of Developing a Communication Plan

Writing a communication plan offers numerous advantages, significantly enhancing how a business crafts, disseminates, and evaluates its messages.

Clear Goals and Objectives

Creating a communication strategy helps to outline clear goals and objectives, providing a roadmap for what an organisation aims to achieve with its communications. This clarity is essential, as it ensures that every piece of communication, whether internal or external, is purpose-driven and aligned with the organisation’s overall strategy.

By establishing these goals upfront, companies can effectively measure success and make informed decisions on how to adjust their strategies to better reach their targets. Furthermore, clear objectives facilitate consistency across all communications, ensuring that every message reinforces the same core values and messages, thereby strengthening the organisation’s brand and reputation.

Employee Engagement

Effective communication strategy provides the organisation an opportunity to foster a culture of cooperation, openness, and trust. When team members are well-informed about the company’s objectives, strategies, and achievements, they are more likely to feel valued and part of the shared mission.

This inclusivity boosts morale and motivates employees to contribute more effectively to their roles. Additionally, a well-structured communication strategy ensures that feedback channels are in place, enabling staff to voice their opinions and ideas. This two-way communication not only empowers staff but also provides management with valuable insights that can drive innovation and process improvements.

Team Alignment with Strategic Business Goals

A clear communication strategy that articulates the organization’s vision, mission, and strategic goals acts as a guide for employees, helping them make decisions and prioritize tasks. This clarity prevents misalignment and discrepancies, ensuring all departments and teams collaborate towards common goals.

Successful Change Management

In times of change or transformation, maintaining clear and open communication can greatly reduce resistance and foster a shared understanding of the change process. By clearly explaining why the change is necessary, the expected outcomes, and how it impacts each role in the organisation, a communication strategy helps to garner support from all staff levels.

This not only minimises uncertainty and concern but also provides an opportunity to involve employees in the process. Furthermore, ensuring ongoing communication throughout the change process keeps staff informed and supportive, nurturing a culture of adaptability and resilience.

Knowledge Sharing

Effective knowledge sharing is a crucial element of any successful communication strategy. By allowing the free flow of information and expertise within the organisation, employees can access, share, and benefit from the collective knowledge of their colleagues. This not only speeds up innovation and issue resolution but also fosters a culture of learning and growth.

A well-structured communication strategy supports knowledge sharing by creating channels and forums for open idea exchange, and encouraging feedback. Additionally, by documenting and archiving institutional knowledge, organisations ensure that valuable insights and learnings are preserved and available for future reference, thereby enhancing the organisation’s intellectual capital over time.

Employee Safety and Security

A key benefit of a comprehensive communication plan is its role in ensuring the safety and security of employees. In today’s ever-changing work environment, where threats range from cyberattacks to natural disasters, having a robust communication strategy is crucial. It not only allows for the swift sharing of vital information during emergencies but also outlines procedures and channels for employees to securely report safety concerns or breaches.

A well-executed communication plan showcases an organisation’s commitment to its employees’ well-being, fostering a safety-focused culture that empowers individuals to take precautionary measures and respond appropriately in crisis situations. This proactive approach not only protects the workforce but also minimises operational disruptions, safeguarding the organisation’s assets and reputation.

Successful Communication

10 Elements of a Successful Communication Strategy

Developing a solid communication plan inherently brings substantial benefits, from enhancing team productivity to fostering a positive workplace culture.

1. Statement of Purpose

A purpose statement can pinpoint the ultimate goal that the company aims to deliver to a client or their customers. Using a template can assist your team in structuring an effective purpose statement. For instance, “[organisation name] aims to provide [benefit], [benefit], and [benefit] through [product or service].” This clear declaration of intent not only steers the organisation’s communication efforts but also connects team members with the overarching aims, ensuring that every piece of communication reinforces the desired message and contributes towards achieving the company’s goals.

2. Situational Analysis

With your goals in mind, take a good look at how your company’s communications are doing. A useful tool for this is the SWOT Analysis, where you list out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats regarding your communication strategies. Other tools you might find helpful include:

  • PEST Analysis: Examining the political, economic, social, and technological influences on your communication efforts.
  • Competitor Analysis: Evaluating your competitors’ current strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your own.

To do this assessment properly, gather insights and opinions from a wide range of stakeholders. It’s crucial to speak directly with the most important stakeholders, but using communication surveys is a great way to get a broader range of views on how communications are going within your organisation. This thorough evaluation will pinpoint areas for improvement and highlight opportunities that can strengthen your overall communication strategy.

3. Communication Goals and Objectives

Another important element of a communication plan it to establish clear, concise, and explicit goals for your organisation’s communications. Typically, you’ll need to incorporate both long-term and short-term goals, with the timelines of these objectives clearly outlined in your strategy document. Communications rooted in non-existent, conflicting, or muddled goals will immediately stand out to the audience.

At best, they’ll be uncertain about your message. At worst, they’ll receive a message that contradicts your vision. This clarity in communication objectives plays a vital role in ensuring that each communication piece serves a purpose and is in line with the organisation’s overarching mission and vision.

4. Communication Initiatives

Your communications strategy sets the stage for the company’s outreach efforts, determining what should be communicated through channels such as social media, email marketing, blog posts, video content on YouTube or Vimeo, and more. In my experience, the more precise you are with your messaging (and visuals) — even if it feels repetitive — the higher the likelihood of engaging people and inspiring them to take action.

5. Audience Segmentation

Make a list of all the different groups your messages need to reach, both inside and outside the organization. Some categories might be as broad as “customers”, but you can break them down into smaller groups if they often need different communication approaches.

For instance, corporate customers and small business customers often require different frequencies or methods of communication. It’s useful to classify each audience as either external (e.g., customers) or internal (e.g., employees). The strategies for communicating internally compared to externally, as well as the communication channels available, will typically vary significantly.

6. Budget Plan

A budget plan is a crucial piece of any comprehensive communications strategy, laying out the financial resources allocated for communications activities over a specific period. This plan should detail all anticipated expenses, such as salaries for communications staff, costs associated with creating and distributing communications materials (e.g., printing, software subscriptions, and advertising), and any external consultancy fees. It’s important to include a buffer for unexpected costs to ensure flexibility.

By aligning your budget with your communication goals and objectives, you can prioritise spending, such as investing more in high-impact initiatives and cutting back on lower-priority activities. Regularly reviewing and adjusting the budget plan in response to performance metrics and changing organisational needs ensures efficient resource utilisation towards achieving the desired communication outcomes.

7. Key Messages and Content Pillars

The next step in creating a strong communication strategy is to work out the key messages that need to be communicated to each specific audience group. When developing these messages, it’s crucial to analyze and understand what each audience group already knows and expects.

Questions such as “What do they already know?”, “What do they want to know?”, “What do you want them to know?”, “What is their level of influence/power?”, and “What level of effort would it take to reach them?” are essential in this context. It’s important to prioritize audiences based on how they impact the achievement of your goals, starting with those whose understanding or actions can significantly advance your objectives.

For every important audience, tailor your key messages to bridge the knowledge gap effectively, making sure they align with what you want them to grasp or act upon. Remember that while one message may appear suitable for different audience segments, nuances in tone, context, and detail are crucial to ensure the message resonates appropriately with each separate group.

This method requires a nuanced understanding of the audience demographics and psychographics, guiding the creation of bespoke messages that accurately address the informational needs and engagement styles of each segment.

8. Decide on Timing

Organisations need to use their communications wisely and strategically to succeed. Timing is crucial for effective communication. Your comms strategy should outline when messages are to be delivered, whether immediately or at a later time. Your communications team should consider these factors when crafting your messages and timing plan.

I recommend creating two equally effective strategies: one for the present and one for potential future events. A crisis communication plan helps prepare for unexpected developments. Careful timing planning ensures your organisation remains adaptable, relevant, and responsive in a fast-paced and often unpredictable world.

9. Communications Matrix and Editorial Plan

The communications strategy needs a practical editorial plan. For each messaging campaign, this plan will outline the budget, timetable, key activities, and a list of available resources. If there are any vital events in the campaign, these should also be included in the work plan. For instance, a brand awareness campaign might require one or more press releases.

10. Measurements

For each of your key messages, you need to define what success looks like. While overarching goals can be vague, these message-level metrics should be specific, measurable, and time-limited. Ideally, each of your metrics should have designated milestones. This ensures you can assess progress quickly and, if needed, pivot the messaging to something more effective.

For instance, imagine your goal is to encourage users to switch from your desktop app to your web app, and one message highlights the new features in your web app. Your metric could be the number of users trying one or more of the new features. A first milestone could be “50 more users trying Feature A by 20th November”.

Face to Face Meetings

Organisational Communication Strategies to Improve Communication in the Workplace

Effective workplace communication is pivotal in forging a cohesive and productive organisational environment, enhancing both employee satisfaction and overall performance.

Face to Face Meetings

In line with fostering an open environment, it’s crucial to schedule individual meetings with each team member to allow them to approach you with queries, issues, or ideas. One-on-one sessions provide excellent chances to discuss team members’ progress, challenges they face, and ways you can enhance your support. They might reveal concerns they hadn’t felt at ease sharing in a group setting. These personal meetings also show team members that they are valued as individuals.

Give Clear Instructions

One area where communication often falls short is in how team leaders relay instructions. Vague communication can lead to delays or bring a project to a halt. To address this challenge, it’s crucial to ensure that each task or project is accompanied by detailed instructions.

These directives can be shared via various channels like email, a project management tool, video calls, or a combination of these. By offering clear guidance, it becomes much simpler for your team to carry out tasks accurately on the first try, ultimately boosting productivity and cutting down the time spent on revisions.

Make Use of Visuals

Using visual aids like graphs, charts and images can greatly enhance how we communicate complex information in the workplace. According to a study by the 3M Corporation, the use of visual aids can boost communication effectiveness by up to 400%. These tools are crucial in breaking down intricate data or concepts, making information easier for employees to grasp.

This not only helps with better understanding but also ensures that the information sticks. By incorporating visual aids in presentations, reports or emails, we can achieve more engaging and effective communication at all levels of the organisation.

Identify Potential Conflicts

Managers should understand the significance of two-way communication. Being open to feedback from team members is vital for refining communication and leadership style. Establish a feedback system for easy sharing via email, in person, or anonymously. Encourage suggestions to enhance employee satisfaction and improve team communication for the company’s future.

Create an Open Environment

To foster better communication, it’s important to make sure your team members feel at ease approaching you when they encounter a problem, slip up, or need guidance. While we often say, “My door is always open,” it’s tricky when your team is scattered worldwide.

By reassuring your team that they can contact you for anything, whether face-to-face or via video call, you create a welcoming atmosphere for communication. This not only lifts spirits but also promotes a culture of openness and trust, vital for resolving issues successfully and nurturing fresh ideas.

Be Open to Feedback

Managers need to realise that two-way communication is also crucial. Open communication means being receptive to feedback from your team to enhance your communication and leadership style. Establish a system for easy feedback submission via email, face-to-face, or anonymously. Encourage team members to offer suggestions for improved employee satisfaction and better team communication, sharing ideas for the company’s future.

Conduct More Open Sessions

Meetings can be a bit dull, especially when just a couple of people dominate the conversation. You’ve likely been through many where you were expected to sit and listen. But not all meetings are boring. A meeting is just a tool. And like any other tool, you can use it effectively or not so well. So every now and then, it’s good to hold an open session with all the workers in your company or specific departments.

This meeting will have a clear agenda, and every employee will be encouraged to speak up and discuss their work, experiences, or any concerns or ideas. Regularly scheduling such open sessions will not only enhance communication but also give you insight into different teams and your overall culture.

Use Effective Communication Tools

Remote work, dispersed teams, smartphones, and other advancements are shaping the new reality of work. However, in many organisations, the communication systems and processes haven’t caught up to this change. The good news is that modern technology and employee engagement tools have made it easier than ever to streamline internal communication and involve every employee in the process, from recruitment to global HR services.

Frontline workers, for instance, have largely been left out of communication channels available to desk-based employees, such as email and instant messaging. Yet, with the rise of smartphones and mobile apps, it is now possible to make them a crucial part of your ongoing communication.

FAQs

What are 5 methods of communication in the workplace?

In the workplace, communication can be effectively carried out through various methods, each serving different needs and contexts. Five common methods include:

  1. Emails: A standard tool for formal and informal communications, suitable for sending detailed information and documents.
  2. Meetings: Whether face-to-face or virtual, meetings are perfect for discussions, brainstorming sessions, and decision-making processes.
  3. Instant Messaging and Chat Apps: Tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams allow for quick, real-time conversations, making it easier for team members to stay connected.
  4. Project Management Tools: Platforms such as Asana and Trello enable teams to collaborate on projects, track progress, and communicate directly within task comments.
  5. Video Conferencing: Services like Zoom and Google Meet facilitate face-to-face interactions, important for building relationships and engaging in complex discussions.

What are some barriers to effective workplace communication?

Effective workplace communication often faces various obstacles that can impede productivity and cause misunderstandings among team members. One of the key hurdles is the presence of physical distance, particularly in today’s work landscape where remote work is widespread. This geographical separation can result in communication delays and a lack of prompt feedback. Cultural differences also present challenges, with diverse norms and language barriers leading to potential misinterpretations.

Moreover, technological restrictions or inadequate tools can disrupt the smooth flow of communication. Emotional barriers, like a fear of criticism or hesitancy to share ideas, can further hinder open dialogue. Overcoming these obstacles demands proactive approaches, such as embracing inclusive technology, nurturing a culture of trust, and advocating for effective listening and feedback processes.

What is an example of strategic communication in an organisation?

Strategic communication within an organisation involves the purposeful use of communication by management to fulfil its mission. For instance, a company planning to launch a new product might utilise a series of targeted internal and external communications to ensure alignment and excitement among employees, while also building anticipation and understanding among consumers. Internally, this could involve town hall meetings, detailed newsletters outlining the product’s features and the strategic importance to the company, and training sessions for sales teams.

Externally, a combination of press releases, social media campaigns, and partnership announcements might be used. This orchestrated approach ensures that all stakeholders are informed, engaged, and motivated towards the common goal, illustrating the power of strategic communication in achieving organisational objectives.

Follow me

Our website uses cookies to provide you with the best browsing experience.
You can view our Website terms of Use here.
By continuing to use our website, you agree to our use of cookies.
Our Cookie Policy can be found here.