Internal communications is a rapidly evolving space where new tools and channels are often becoming available to help internal comms professionals better target their messages and improve the flow of information within their organizations.
Unfortunately, less than half of internal communications teams (46%) say that they use a formalized channel document to help guide them in these efforts, according to a Gatehouse report.
Having a solid framework in place – also called a communications channel matrix – is something internal communicators can’t afford to overlook. Plus, you can download a template.
Table of contents
What is internal communication channel matrix?
Workforce demographics, how we work, where we work, and how we expect to receive information has changed. Where traditional communication methods such as memos, emails and formal meetings were once sufficient enough to facilitate internal communication, they aren’t enough in the context of the modern workplace.
Nowadays, an approach that uses various channels to reach employees in different circumstances is the best-practice approach to internal communications.
An internal communications channel matrix sets out when and why different communication channels in the organization should be used and which internal stakeholders should be targeted.
Put simply, it is your go-to document in your toolbox that you can use to ensure people in your organization are kept in the loop and you reach the right people, at the right time, in the right way.
Why do you need an internal communications matrix?
An internal communication matrix will help you to improve communication across your organization. It can benefit the internal comms team and anyone in the company who needs to communicate with colleagues across different teams and different functions. As internal communicators, we often have an intuitive sense of what we should do and how we should do it – but it isn’t everyone’s area of expertise.
The matrix can help to shape the way communication happens and guide anyone who isn’t sure about what to do and how to do it.
By setting out communications channels in a more tangible way, non-communications colleagues can better understand the positives or negatives of using different channels to communicate so that they can be guided towards communicating in an effective way to solve the communications challenges they need to overcome.
Read more: Internal communications calendar template.
How to create an internal communications matrix?
There are several steps to take in order to create an internal communications channel matrix:
1. Audit the channels you currently use
How do you commonly reach people within your organization? Do you primarily use emails and intranet? Do you have other tools you’ve invested in, such as employee apps or internal communications software? Are you satisfied with these tools and how they have been performing? Are some teams/areas of the organization using their own communications tools that you don’t know about?
2. Do you need to introduce new channels?
A multi-channel approach to internal communications is the best practice. When you send your information across different channels, you are more likely to cut through and reach your employees. Employees are more distracted than ever in the workplace, with notifications and emails, and other interruptions often preventing them from finding out the things they need to know.
It might seem counter-intuitive to add more disruptions into this mix. Still, sometimes the only way to cut through digital distractions is to fight fire with fire and include deliberately disruptive tools such as pop-up alert or desktop ticker.
A good rule of thumb is to ensure you have the following mixture of channels:
- Offline channels: think posters, flyers, displays, banners, and other physical collateral that you can deploy in places like kitchens, break rooms, meeting areas and other spaces where your employees are likely to congregate.
- Online channels: these are channels that require your employees to connect to the internet or intranet to use. This includes email, the intranet, blogs, videos, e-newsletters, project sharing platforms and more.
- Interactive channels: there are lots of different ways to reach people in a way they can interact. This can include social media, surveys, polls, quizzes, instant messengers, chat rooms, comments sections and more.
- Live events: these can be in-person or online but include townhalls, webinars, meetings, focus groups, social gatherings, lectures and more.
3. Do you have the right channels for the right communications scenarios?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to internal communications, and the best method of communicating with employees in one particular scenario is not going to be the best way to communicate in another. For example, if you have an emergency situation, you can’t expect to send an email or place information passively on the intranet and expect people will find out and take the right steps to be safe.
You need a more timely tool, such as DeskAlerts, where you can send urgent and intrusive emergency notifications to desktops and mobile devices.
Other times you may need to reach employees who don’t work at traditional desk-based jobs such as sales teams, logistics and freight employees, healthcare and other emergency workers, factory workers, construction personnel, retail employees and even workers who are now at home because of the pandemic. Traditional channels such as email are not effective for these types of employees and solutions, such as employee apps, will help you to achieve better results with these cohorts.
4. Determine and understand your audience(s)
It’s important to identify your different audience groups within the organization and assess their needs when it comes to communications. People from different age groups, cultural backgrounds and even job types will have specific needs or preferences regarding communication, so to get the most out of your internal communications channel matrix, these need to be given due consideration.
>> Learn more about targeted communication. <<
5. Determine uses for each channel
Now you should look at what you have and what you would like to have in your internal communications toolbox.
With each channel, you should determine:
- How it should be used
- How fast it can reach people
- Who would be receptive to receiving messages with it and who would not
- What are the limitations of that channel?
- What are its benefits?
Essentially, this step sees you mapping your channels against your audiences so that you can reach the right people in the right way that will generate the best results.
We have created a free template to help that you can access here.
Building a structured framework can take the guesswork out of communicating internally for others, particularly colleagues who are not internal communications professionals. The internal communications channel matrix will also let you have a holistic view of what you are using and how you are using it so that you can benchmark use and make continuous improvements over time.