By Cindy Remy
The gap between internal and external communications is very real in so many organizations – but it doesn’t have to be.
A strong organization is built on a foundation of trust, relationship and knowledge. The underlying “glue” holding it all together is a carefully crafted communications strategy, and not just an “internal” strategy. The creation of a strategy will propel an organization forward, and bridge the gap between your internal culture to the world outside the company doors in a positive way. If your employees are happy and feel included, they will project to anyone they meet, on a personal or professional level.
Creating a proactive strategy relies on five basic components:
- Establish a goal. This can be as simple as wanting more regular interactions with employees to increasing your company’s visibility within the marketplace. What is it you want people to know about your organization and why? Keep asking those “why” questions. The “how” will follow.
- Understand your current culture. Do your employees live and breathe the company values? Are they acting as positive company ambassadors when interacting with community-at-large? What do external constituents think about your company? Is there a new trend? Are you about a launch a new program, initiative, health insurance plan, etc.?
- Know your audience. Don’t over-simplify into “internal” and “external” constituents. Do you have salaried and/or hourly staff? Is there a union? How many managers do you have in comparison to the rest of your staff? Who are your external constituents (investors, legislators, clients, community members, parents, etc.)? It is likely each type of audience requires a different type of communication. This is where you think about messaging, format and frequency.
- Be transparent. Always be up-front about any strategy you are creating. Don’t ever impose a strategy without getting input. Once you establish your goals and audience, consider reaching out for input, perhaps through a survey, a series of focus groups, or even public forums. Buy-in is key for creating and implementing a strong communications strategy.
- Measure. Take the time to evaluate your strategy. What worked? What would you change? Afterwards, repeat steps one through four, tweaking as necessary.
The important thing here is to not overly separate “internal” and “external” communications. It’s well worth taking the time to fully develop a proactive strategy with your various constituents. A strong foundation of inclusion and transparency will pay off exponentially.