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Sunday, October 7, 2012

How to develop a successful internal communications plan to improve corporate reputation?

Internal communications is probably one of the less explored fields in the world of corporate communications but it is one of the most important elements in the process of building a strong reputation and corporate image.

From my personal experience, I had the opportunity to know some companies keen on improve their image without working in important aspects of their corporate identity which means an effective process of internal communications.

But, what is internal communications?
Internal communications is the process of generation of messages throughout the whole company as an holistic perspective, and it is always present in every human actavity.

There is always internal communications from the beginning of the company, and it is shaped according to the business culture and its core values.

These insights are very important for us to understand the necessity to manage the flow of messages around the organization as a way to develop a strong identity that will be later the base of a successful reputation.

Why is important internal communications to build a strong reputation?
Workers and employees of the company are the most important ambassadors of the company. They know the business, the good points and their dirty little secrets. People outside will tend to believe what they say about the brand, the company and its leaders, no matter how millionaire our advertising campaign is; workers build the business reputation from inside the organization.

If you people are not happy, believe me, there is no way to develop a good reputation among you key stakeholders.

How to develop a successful internal communications plan?

  • Where are you?
To develop an Internal Communications plan, first of all you have understand what is your position inside the company organization. It look pretty obvious, but it is extremely important to identify your possibilities and future resources in terms influence among the leaders of the organization, as well as the board of managers.

  • Looking for key information
At this point you need information about the company operations, history and important milestones in the past. You also need information about its present activities and a prospective vision about the future. You also need information about your managers board: who could be you ally when you “sell” your ideas, who could buy your projects easily.

  • Analize the business corporate culture
How is your corporate culture? What are their main core of values? Not only the written ones, but those which are put on practice every single day. Look carefully how is the company behaviour facing internal and external troubles. To do that, you need to develop your observation skills, this is a must.

  • You need a strategy
I mean, you need a strategy about the strategy. What are you going to to first and how it is going to be presented. You are already supposed to know your allies and main listeners. You are also supposed to know the best moment to attack. So, it is important to design a little strategy to present you communication strategy.

  • Tools of investigation.
Now you have the manager's approval to start working, what kind of formal investigation you need? Primary information? Secondary information? According to that you will choose the appropriate kind of tools of investigation: Focus groups, interviews, surveys, direct observation, etc.

  • Identification of main audiences.
You have to determine who are you primary and secondary audiences. Remember, in the frame of an Internal Communications project, your primary audiences are those who you want to influence in order to change, or even maintain, a behaviour. Your secondary audience are those who can help you to do it: managers, middle managers, supervisors, team leaders, etc.

  • Identification of communications problems
You need to identify your problematic frame. What are the elements that are part of you communications problems inside the company: motivation, values, rules, organization, lack of identity, etc.

  • Setting communications goals.
Communications goals are about change of behaviour, and include the wished behaviour, the time it will be reach, and the way you will measure it. Remember, communications is about influence, and change of attitudes and behaviour.

  • Setting messages
Communications messages are one of the most important part of your strategy, and they have to reach to your primary and secondary audiences. Communications messages are composed by:
A promise.
An evidence.
A tone of communication.

  • Media selection
What is the best way to reach your audiences? Workshops, Social Media, TV, Radio, Emailing, Face2Face, etc. There are lots of options, but you have to choose the most effective according to your goals.

Once you have these elements clear, you can develop your internal communication plan, according to the established time that you have scheduled previously. Remember, the core of you communications plan is to get coherence, motivation and identification; without this you can't improve your external communication and corporate reputation.

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