How to Become the ‘Go-To’ Expert for Strategic Internal Communication Solutions
— April 26th, 2022
The answer is a newsletter / intranet / video / ESN / app*.
Now, what was the question?
(*Delete as applicable)
Too many communication conversations start with the channel. Internal communication guru Bill Quirke says that internal communicators are ‘seduced by channels.’
He goes on to explain that, in his opinion, “the value is not in the channels, it’s in the thinking’” and I couldn’t agree more.
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Over my more than 20 years as an internal communicator, there have been various shiny new communication channels that seem like they will deliver all the answers, no matter what the question.
Communicators (and their bosses/clients) tend to gravitate towards these things as if they are a silver bullet that will solve all of their communication problems.
I’ve often been briefed by a senior leader or a client to create a newsletter/intranet/video/app /or whatever the latest "in thing" is. Although it would be easy to do exactly what they ask, if you aspire to be a trusted advisor and to add real value, then my advice is not to take their request at face value.
Always dig a bit deeper. Find out what their real question is — then you have a good chance of coming up with the right answer.
Remember, you are the communication expert, not them. Demonstrate this by working with them and taking a strategic and professional approach to their request so that you can help them to identify the communication solution(s) that will really work, rather than simply applying a quick fix.
The good news is that there is a simple, tried and trusted model that you can apply to achieve this. It is easy for anyone to understand and believe in, and it will ensure you deliver the right communication solution every time.
You can apply it to everything from a simple announcement to a major change program. It is something I’ve been developing and refining during my career and it really is a game-changer.
And, even better news, it’s as simple as ABCDE.
The ABCDE Model of Internal Communication provides a logical set of questions for you to work through in order to find out everything you need to know to put an effective, strategic communication plan in place.
It will prevent you (and your client / in-house contact) from leaping straight to an obvious solution (usually a channel) that may or may not deliver what is really needed.
Simply follow these five steps and you’ll be well on the way to ensuring a professional and effective solution that will not only deliver what is needed from a business outcome point of view, but will also make you — and your client / in-house contact — look really good.
- Who is your communication aimed at?
- Who are you trying to reach?
- Who are your potential enablers and blockers?
- Why are you communicating with them? What is the objective?
- What do we want people to do, say, think and feel?
- How can you motivate them to make the required change?
- What key messages do you want to convey?
- Will your content connect? Is it clear, compelling, in context, and concise?
- Is your role to create, co-create or curate the content?
- What channels should you choose? Verbal, online, or print?
- Do you need to build your line managers’ or leaders’ communication capability?
- Do you have enough two-way channels? Are you really listening?
- What does success look like? How will you know if your communication has achieved its objectives?
- What measures do you need? Before and after? Inputs or outputs? Qualitative or quantitative?
- What next? How will you demonstrate that you’ve listened to and acted upon the results?
Using the ABCDE model ensures that it’s only after you’ve established exactly who your communication is aimed at (audience), why you are communicating with them (behavior), and what you are communicating (content), that you start to think about how you communicate i.e. what channels to use (delivery).
My book, Better Internal Communication: How to add value, be more strategic and fast-track your career provides advice on each of these five steps (and a few other areas that don’t fit neatly into the model). In it I share both tried and tested approaches, and the latest thinking about each.
It will give you the knowledge and the confidence to push back on those glib requests for a newsletter/intranet/video /ESN/app and become instead the ‘go to’ expert for really effective strategic internal communication solutions.