"Know your audience" is one of the first things we learn about communication, so it's not news that different audiences have different needs. Why then, when it comes to internal communication planning, do so many of us rely on the “one size fits all” approach—even if our organization is large and complex? Instead, take your plan to the next level by analyzing your audiences' needs and developing strategies tailored to key segments. Here's how to get started.

 

  1. Understand your organizational structure.
    Before you can begin to create a segmented plan, you need understand how your organization is structured. If a functional organizational chart doesn't exist, create your own conceptual map that captures how your organization works. Consider business units, major functions (such as IT and Finance) and geography.
     
  2. Conduct a thorough demographic analysis.
    Leverage your HR database to find out exactly who makes up your employee audience: How many employees are there in each business unit or region? What's your ratio of men to women? How many people are long-time employees versus how many have been with the company less than two years? This information lays the groundwork for segmenting strategies throughout the plans.
     
  3. Review your available research.
    Draw upon communication measurement and focus group studies you've conducted, as well as employee attitude surveys and other internal research. Analyze the data to reach key conclusions about employee communication preferences—both the information employee groups are most interested in and the communication channels they prefer.
     
  4. Correlate everything you've learned with what you need to communicate for the coming year.
    Part of this process is deciding what needs to be shared across the organization—the company's objectives, strategies, and performance, for example—and what happens at a business unit, functional or local level.

This approach is not quick or easy, but it's critical for developing a communication plan that meets the communication needs of all employees in your organization.

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