At the IABC Heritage Region Conference, I led a workshop designed to help communicators with the challenges they face while planning, creating and delivering communication.

Here are seven challenges that surfaced and 16 resources to help you navigate these obstacles:

  1. How can I be more strategic, while managing day-to-day work? One participant described this as “seeing the forest for the trees."

    Let’s start with the big picture. Moving from a communicator focused on delivering tactics to a strategic advisor takes planning and practice. This smart guide will help you become a rock star communicator. 

    And here are two strategies you can implement immediately: 
    ​–Making time to plan is critical to becoming a strategic communicator. Watch this video: How to find time for internal communication planning
    ​–Sharing your results will help others see you as an expert and strategic thinker. Take a look at this infographic: Transform how you share internal communication achievements.

  1. What’s the best way to manage competing messages?

    When messages start to bump into each other and employees don’t know where to focus, it’s time to prioritize and coordinate. A communication network may be the strategy you need. 

  1. How can I create communication that breaks through? 

    This challenge can be as simple as getting responses to your emails or as complicated as ensuring employees read critical information. My colleague Alison Davis wrote the book on breaking through: Your attention, please.

    Try these two simple approaches to help your communication break through: 
    –Improve your headlines. There’s data out there that tells us that headlines make a difference; for example, effective headlines increase readership by 75%. Why not try taking this simple step? Here’s how: Create compelling headlines that attract employees’ attention
    –Simplify content. This infographic summarizes 26 ways to make your messages easier to consume.

  1. Can I play a role in encouraging interdepartmental communication? 

    While members of the internal communication function rarely play a role in  interdepartmental communication, we know from our research that it’s a pain point for employees—especially when they need help to get work done. 

    Try stepping in as advisor—helping groups or teams diagnose gaps and ramp up their communication. Here's a tip to help you play that role: Use social media to break down silos.

  1. How do I give employees a voice? 

    Employee activism (when employees speak out on key issues) is on the rise. Harness that energy by helping employees understand they have a voice:
    –Conduct focus groups on key issues and demonstrate that you’re taking action on employees’ feedback
    –Reinvent your town halls, and other major meetings, so they’re less about information dumps and more about engagement.  
    –Encourage participation in key decision and changes. See Include high-touch experiences in my e-book, Change communication made easy

  1. What’s the best way to engage employees in the business strategy and other high-level topics? 

    The first step is to understand what you need to achieve. Do you need employees to be simply aware of the topic? Or do you need a group of employees to do something differently? Your objectives will drive your communication tactics. Read Segment employees by impact and set objectives in my e-book, Change communication made easy to learn more.

    Most communication about business strategy and other high-level topics comes in the form of multi-page PowerPoint decks, nested priorities and long speeches. Make these complicated topics approachable by telling stories. Stories create memorable moments that capture our attention. Listen to this podcast and read Articulate the story in my e-book, Change communication made easy.

  1. How do I reach non-wired employees? 

    As a first step, understand non-wired employees’ work environment. Conduct a site visit to understand what gets in the way of communication and identify hidden opportunities. For example, we toured a client’s facility after a communication strategy workshop and discovered an opportunity in the cafeteria: We had a captive audience but no visible communication.

    Then develop targeted communication that is designed to reach this unique audience. 

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