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What Is a Communications Strategy?

A communications strategy is a plan detailing the entirety of your organisation’s internal and external communication efforts. That includes the way the organisation interacts with investors, leadership, employees, customers, the press, and competitors.

This strategy should focus on high-level coordination, with communication tactics left to the owners of the individual messaging campaigns.

The communications strategy provides these campaign owners with key messaging concepts and metrics they need to define success.

That way, the goals of all communication campaigns are aligned without stifling communication ideas and innovations.

Download Now -> Free Internal Comms Strategy Template

Why is a Communication Strategy Important?

Your organisation’s communication strategy serves to align your internal and external communications.

When all of your communications are based on coherent, well-defined strategies, they complement and reinforce one another. A well-implemented strategy also avoids redundancies, maximising the ROI of all your communications.

Without an organisation-wide effective communication strategy, your communications are likely to become disjointed.

In the best case, this will confuse your internal and external stakeholders.

Worst, you may lose the trust of customers, employees, or shareholders if they feel that the conflicting messages indicate you are not being open or truthful with them.

Internal Comms Strategy Template

  1. Identify the SMART objectives and an end goal of the comms
  2. Plan out your internal comms for better engagement
  3. Align your internal comms goals and objectives
Swift Digital Internal Communications Strategy Brief
Download Template

What are The 3 Main Elements of a Communications Strategy?

  1. Audience Analysis – Understanding the target audience is crucial. This involves identifying who the audience is, what their needs, preferences, and behaviours are, and where they can be reached. Audience analysis helps tailor messages and choose appropriate communication channels.
  2. Message Development – Crafting clear, concise, and compelling messages is essential. Messages should align with the organisation’s goals and objectives while resonating with the target audience. It’s crucial to consider the tone, language, and content of the messages to ensure they effectively convey the desired information and evoke the intended response.
  3. Channel Selection and Implementation – Choosing the right communication channels to reach the target audience is vital. This involves selecting from various channels such as email, websites, traditional media, events, or direct mail. The chosen channels should be appropriate for the audience and the message. Implementation involves executing the communication plan effectively across selected channels to ensure messages reach the intended recipients.

What Should a Communications Strategy Include?

  1. Statement of purpose 

  2. Assessment of current state

  3. Organisational and communication objectives

  4. List of internal and external audiences

  5. Key messages for each audience

  6. List of communication channels

  7. Work plan

  8. Success metrics and milestones

How to Develop a Communications Strategy

1. Determine Your Communications Strategy Goals

Before anything else, you need clear, concise, explicit goals for your organisation’s communications.

Typically, you will include both long-term and short-term goals, and the timelines of these goals should be clearly defined in your strategy document.

Communications based on non-existent, conflicting, or confusing goals will immediately be apparent to the audience. At best, they’ll be uncertain what your message is.

At worst, they’ll read a message that is at odds with your vision.

2. Define Your Target Audiences

Make a list of every group your messages need to reach, both internally and externally.

Some of these categories may be as broad as “customers”, but you can split those groups into smaller sets if the subsets often require different communication tactics.

For example, enterprise customers and small business customers often require different frequencies or modes of communication.

It’s helpful to identify each audience as either external (e.g., customers) or internal (e.g., employees).

The strategies for internal communications vs external communications, as well as the available communication channels, will be significantly different in most cases.

3. Assess Your Current State of Affairs

With your goals in mind, prepare an honest assessment of the current state of your company’s communications. A common tool for this is SWOT Analysis, in which you write out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Other tools you can use for this step include:

  • PEST Analysis: Looking at political, economic, social, and technological impacts on your efforts.
  • Competitor Analysis: Assess your competitors’ current strengths and weaknesses as a comparison to your own.

As part of this assessment, you should gather information and opinions from a wide range of stakeholders. The most important stakeholders should be talked to directly, but communication surveys are an excellent way to include a wider range of opinions as to the current state of communications in your organisation.


Download Now -> Free Internal Comms Strategy Template

4. Create Your Key Messages

The next step is to decide what key messages you need to get across to each audience.

For each audience, ask yourself the following questions based on your current state and your goals.

  • What do they already know?
  • What do they want to know?
  • What do you want them to know?
  • What is their level of influence/power?
  • What level of effort would it take to reach them?

Audiences that will have a larger impact on whether you reach your goals should be prioritised, particularly if your message is likely to have a significant impact on them.

Starting with these highest-priority audiences, create key messages designed to bridge the gap between what they know and what you want them to know. 

Consider the appropriate audience for each message.

Even when a single message seems to be right for multiple audiences, the tone or information content may not be identical.

It’s best to treat messages to different audiences completely uniquely.

5. Decide on Metrics and Milestones

For each of your key messages, you need to define what success means. While overarching goals can be vague, these message-level metrics should be specific, measurable, and time-limited. 

Ideally, each of your metrics should have designated milestones. This ensures that you can assess progress quickly and, if necessary, pivot the messaging to something more effective.

For example, let’s say that your goal is to get users to switch from your desktop app to your web app and one of the messages is about the new features in your web app.

Your metric could be the number of users that try one or more of the new features. A first milestone could be “100 more users trying Feature A by November 30th”.

6. Identify Your Communications Channels

Every organisation uses multiple communication channels. Some common examples include:

  • E-mail newsletters
  • Advertisements
  • Press releases
  • Workshops and events
  • Website blogs
  • Social media

You’ll want to compile a list of all of your communication channels. In that list, be sure to note any limitations of the channels (timeliness, reach, length limit, cost, etc.).

You’ll also want to determine which audiences can be reached by each channel and which channels would be preferred by each audience.

7. Assign Message Owners

Every message in your strategy needs a designated owner, responsible for delivery and measurement.

Often, the owner will be an individual who is familiar with the given audience. For instance, a message intended for employees would likely fall on a Human Resources team member rather than a Marketing Manager.

8. Create a Work Plan

Finally, the communications strategy needs a working communications plan.

For each messaging campaign, this plan will outline the budget, timeline, key activities, and a list of available resources. If there are any essential events in the campaign, these should be included in the work plan as well.

For instance, a brand awareness campaign could require one or more press releases.

Download Now -> Free Internal Comms Strategy Template

Use Powerful Marketing Automation Software For Your Internal Communications

Do you need help with the creation and automation of your internal and external communications?

Here at Swift Digital, we can help get you started with your communications our useful internal communications template.

We also have tips on internal communications best practices and a bunch of internal communication examples and effective communication strategy examples to help make your internal communication campaign a success.

To find out how your business can get the best out of Swift Digital’s platform, contact our team.

The Preferred Email, Events and SMS Automation Software For All Australian Government Departments

Swift Digital’s templates help you effortlessly create stunning emails and events communications using our drag-and-drop email and event builder.

You can raise engagement with embedded images, videos, polls, article feedback, and emojis and schedule messages to send at the right time.

Government departments’ unique marketing requirements are covered with Swift Digital, and full compliance with all anti-spam and privacy laws is guaranteed. Swift Digital is also ISO 27001 certified.

Swift Digital is Australia’s leader in marketing automation software and event management working with organisations like the NSW Government, ATO, and companies like Westpac Bank and Qantas.

Find out why we’re the Australian government department’s number one choice for their professional communications and events.

To find out how your business can get the best out of Swift Digital’s platform, contact our team today.

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Communication Strategy Frequently Asked Questions

How can you ensure your communication strategy resonates with target audiences?

Developing an effective communication strategy is an important task and requires a clear understanding of your audience and strategic deployment.  

You need to ensure you know your audience, develop your audience personas, create clear and relevant messages, choose the right channels, use a mix of content types, be transparent, stay agile and measure your effectiveness.

Here we have a successful communication strategy example.

How do you measure a communication strategy's effectiveness?

You can measure whether you have built an effective communication strategy and areas for improvement by using the communication strategy measuring methods below

  1. Goal achievement – Did your communications strategy achieve its SMART goals? Goals usually include brand awareness, ROI, lead generation, and customer satisfaction. 
  2. Audience engagement – How engaged was your audience? Diid your email statistics increase such as click-through rate, responses and subscriptions. High levels of engagement indicate that the communication strategy is resonating with the target audience.
  3. Conversion rates – Track conversion metrics such as leads generated, sales made, registrations to your event or desired actions taken (e.g., sign-ups, downloads). Analyse how the communication strategy contributes to driving conversions and achieving organisational objectives.
  4. Feedback and surveys – How many surveys did you receive? Was the feedback received positive? Collect feedback from stakeholders, customers, colleagues and other relevant parties.
  5. ROI – Was your communication strategy successful in meeting ROI targets?

How often should a communication strategy be updated?

An effective communication strategy should be reviewed annually or as often as you think your audience and market changes and to also measure the effectiveness of your current communications strategy and your overall organisation’s goals. 

Developing a communication strategy for a specific campaign is ideal and should be reviewed once the campaign ends. Communication strategies are an important part of an organisation’s overall business objectives.