The field of internal communications is changing fast. It has already evolved beyond static intranets, top-down messages, and email-centric strategies.
As new trends emerge in workplace communication, your internal communication team needs to restructure accordingly. Otherwise, you risk alienating workers from the information they must have to do their jobs and help your business grow.
A well-planned internal communications team can go a long way in unifying your company’s workers — both desk-based and frontline - and achieving business goals.
So let’s see how you can build and scale your internal communications team in a way that maximizes your organization’s potential.
Responsibilities of an internal communications team
Your internal communication department ensures that every piece of content is created and distributed in a way that gives your company the best chance to succeed. But this may be an oversimplified description. So let’s get into specifics. The responsibilities of an internal communication team include:
Managing internal communication channels
Email is important for any workplace, but it has also been largely abused and overused. As per research by Radicati, a worker sends and gets over 120 emails per day. This overwhelming number also explains why 20% of emails are never read.
In fact, many workers — especially those on the frontline — don’t even have an email address. They’re more likely to have mobile phones. So communication sent via an employee app gets much better engagement.
This shows that if you want to implement effective communication in a modern workplace, you need more than just email.
For example, modern communication channels available these days include instant messaging, social feeds, SMS, video conferencing, internal content platform, and more. And you need to pick the ones best suited for your company.
But which channels are available, what should be used for what type of communication, and how to implement them? These are the kind of questions addressed by an internal communications team.
For example, if you want to get workers’ opinions on a single, specific, and casual issue, sharing a quick, fun poll on an employee app’s social media feed is better than sending an email.
Supporting external campaigns with an internal spin
There are often times when internal inputs can help external marketing campaigns. For example, if the marketing department wants to communicate how carefully the products are made, they can interview employees and take potential customers behind the scenes through images and videos.
In such scenarios, an internal communications team can help accelerate the process. Even better, they may already have this data from one of their previous campaigns. This cross-department collaboration helps both teams be more efficient.
Implementing new technologies
With new modes of digital communication, organizations are rapidly adjusting their communication tech stacks with new collaboration, communication, and social networking tools.
It’s your internal communication team’s responsibility to ensure that no worker gets left behind. For example, your frontline workers need to be kept in the loop as much as office-based employees. So your internal communication department will be tasked with choosing and implementing the right employee app.
Not just that. Before and after installing a new solution, the internal communication team will champion it across the organization, get buy-in from all stakeholders, and ensure best practices to make the most of it.
Track and improve staff engagement
An internal communication team’s job is not done once they schedule everything to be sent and published. The next step is to gauge the reach and engagement of their content.
So as part of your internal comms plan, your team will also have pre-defined KPIs and ways to track performance. The team should seek answers to questions like:
- Are our messages successfully reaching employees?
- Are they reaching them on time?
- How many workers are taking the actions mentioned in the messages?
By tracking staff engagement, the team keeps improving its messaging and continues refining the overall communication strategy.
Roles needed for a superstar internal communications team
Here are the key roles you may want to include in your internal communications team. But note that every company is different. Even if you don’t have the resources or the budget to fill all of these roles, it’s still possible to build an effective team with fewer people ready to wear multiple hats.
Internal communications head
Every great team needs a great leader. Within your internal communications team structure, this person will be in charge of planning, implementing, and measuring the performance of your communication strategy.
Internal communications business partner
If your business is divided into different units, each unit will have a representative/partner who collaborates with the central internal communication team.
This would also include someone who acts as a bridge between senior leadership and the internal communications team. For effective communication, you want top management to be involved and visible in ongoing communications, and this role would ensure the same.
Internal communications channels coordinator
Next, fill your team with members who will administer and coordinate communication on different channels and communities. How many? That depends on the channel structure and internal communications strategy.
Internal communications multimedia executive
Studies have shown that people only remember 20% of what they read and 10% of what they hear. Yet, they remember 80% of what they see.
Image Source: Medium
So you must consider having someone who can turn your plain-text messages into engaging infographics or videos.
How to build and scale your IC function
The following best practices will help you make the most of the resources you have as part of your internal communications team.
Understand organizational goals
You can’t build or restructure your internal communication team without understanding the business requirements first. So think this through. Business strategy informs the communication strategy.
For example, if a part of your sales strategy is expanding to new locations, your communication practices, tools, and team structure should take this into account.
Plan roles and responsibilities
Now that you’re clear on your business’s goals, consider the different types of roles you’ll need. Refer to the roles we shared above to select what’s best for your internal communication team.
And if you're using an employee app, you need at least one person committed to ensuring that the stakeholders post regularly.
Invest in your internal communication team
Just filling up members in your team is not enough. It’s important to invest in their professional development. The sooner they get up to speed, the better for your company.
Even if you have a limited budget, there are plenty of free resources out there for IC (internal communication) professionals to get better at their jobs.
If you have been working as a team of one, it’s likely that you don’t document much. All you do is in your head. We don’t blame you. You’re overloaded with tasks, and it’s tempting to just move from one thing to another and get more done.
This may work for a solo IC professional, but not for an internal communications team. Documenting is essential for a team to clarify roles, outline processes, and share knowledge.
Fortunately, it’s not that hard. All you need is a decent information-sharing hub that can be accessed on the web. So take the time to record and reflect on what you’re doing.
Lead the team effectively
If you’re the head of internal communication in your company, you should be ready to step into that space. This includes guiding your team, developing relationships, and building trust.
And a big part of that is ensuring that the communication within your own team is flawless, and setting an example for everyone else. Establish protocols and a regular cadence for how you’ll communicate and collaborate with your internal communications team.
Focus on efficiency
Productivity and timelines are especially significant for internal communications. When there are situations that need to be addressed or communicated quickly, your team should be ready to step up and hit the Send button.
So it’s on you to build a proper yet short chain of command that isn’t hindered by bottlenecks. At the same time, there should be a review and approval process in place to ensure no message goes out on someone’s impulse.
Communications team structure FAQs
How do you build an internal communication team?
If you wish to build an internal communications team you need to do the following:
1. Identify what structure you need - Do you need assistants? Co-ordinators? Who will these report to?
2. Recruit - Put together a job description, and start advertising the agreed positions. Get your interview questions ready.
3. Hire - Evaluate your applicants and select the one you think will fill the role the best.
You then need to evaluate your team's output and identify where you need support, this will be an ongoing process.
How should a communications team be structured?
The ideal communications team includes, a Head of Internal Communications, an Internal Communication Business Partner, an Executive, an Assistant, a Co-ordinator and possibly an Internal Communications Multimedia Executive. Depending on the size of your organization you may also need an Internal Communications Director.
What does an internal communications team do?
An internal communications team looks after all communication within an organisation. This can include producing and delivering messages and campaigns on behalf of leadership teams, such as key business updates, business performance, CEO updates etc.
Conclusion: building and scaling your internal communications team
Internal communications vary a lot from one company to another. The structure of your internal communications team will depend on the size of your business and unique organizational goals.
Regardless, the purpose of a high-functioning internal communications department remains the same. And the above tips will help you build a team that has the skills and expertise to contribute fully to that purpose.
So start making the adjustments you need to build or scale your internal communications team the right way. And while you’re at it, consider using Blink as the internal communication solution for your team, along with the whole workforce. Get a free demo today.