A successful communications strategy doesn’t sit on its own; it needs to be fully integrated into the strategic fabric of your organisation. No one will do this for you, but they will help you if you can persuade them by showing what’s in it for them and the organisation. As part of your approach you must invest significant time in the right areas; and one of these is creating strategic alliances and partnerships across the organisation.
You will need to first make sure colleagues in your own department understand the influential role internal communications can make supporting the reputation of the organisation. You also need to have a good grasp of the key campaigns and initiatives they are working on and, more importantly, demonstrate what you can do to support them.
HR and organisational development are clearly departments you need to be working closely with. In some organisations internal communications will be located within these departments. HR needs to be involved because internal communications is not just about distributing information; it’s about creating understanding and engagement. HR has an increasingly large agenda, including change management, introducing new values and ways of working, and improving performance management. Each of these agendas will need effective internal communications.
This close strategic partnership will increase the influence of internal communications across the organisation, improve business performance by breaking down silos, and also provide a critical support network for lone internal communicators and small teams. As natural allies, internal communications and HR should assess the communication processes that tie their organisations together to share data and avoid duplication of effort.
Your internal communications strategy must support your people strategy and ideally share key performance indicators, around engagement for example, so you are all working in the same direction and adding value.
It is critical that communications has a strategic role in the planning and running of your organisation. It’s quite likely that the director of communications sits on your management team and from this position will be able to influence strategy and business plans.
However, employees, particularly those in customer facing departments, represent your brand and influence your reputation in their day-to-day interactions with customers. It is therefore clear you need close strategic partnerships with operational departments and heads of customer services so you can work effectively with them to influence their business plans and managers at a local level.