4 Steps for a Brilliant Internal Communication Channels Audit

August 23, 2022

In times of utter chaos, I often repeat the mantra, “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” It’s a great reminder that intentional movements beat flailing every time. (If you hear me muttering it in a corner, just keep on moving.)

It’s no easy task though. Internal communications is a world of urgent requests. Of fire drills. Of panicked late-in-the-day meetings. Tipping the scales from reactivity to proactivity is a goal for every comms leader I’ve ever talked to and a challenge no one seems to have completely cracked yet.  

With so much uncertainty, planning wherever we can is essential. Understanding our communication channels inside and out is one way to gain control over our time, enabling us to focus our efforts on what matters and what really reaches the employees we serve.

If you feel like your channels are getting out of control, or if you’re not exactly sure where to prioritize your limited time, an internal communications channel audit is a great place to start.

At its core, a channel audit is a way to compare apples and oranges using feedback and data to make informed decisions about how to spend your time. It’s a way to pull yourself out of the reactive vacuum that we all find ourselves in and take control over your strategy.  

@linkList;Jump to a step or read on:;Step 1. Capture Your Communication Channels ;Step 2. Evaluate Your Channels;Step 3. Redefine Channel Use Rules;Step 4: Plan for the Future

Step 1. Capture Your Communication Channels

Identifying the channels seems easy, but it’s not always straightforward. Start with writing out the channels you manage, who they reach, and what metrics are available – but don’t stop there.  

Do some digging to see if there are any DIY methods or (gasp) unsanctioned tools teams use to communicate. You'd be surprised – or maybe not. Teams are often trying news methods to get work done and connect with each other (and hint hint, it might be because one of the existing tools isn't doing the job).

While you might not be able to influence channels outside your direct control, it’s always important to keep an eye on your competition.

Step 2. Evaluate Your Channels

Here comes the data! The research you conduct for your internal communications channel audit can scale with your time and resources, but our recommendation is to dig into these three:  

  • Review Metrics: Many channels today have built-in measurement tools so you can gauge things like open rates, clicks, likes and comments. These are important measures to understand which channels reach employees and which fall short.
  • Gather Feedback: The world of internal comms will never be purely quantitative – we’re dealing with human beings, after all. As you assess your channels, talk with employees and leaders to learn what they like and where they see gaps. Our favorite tactics for gathering qualitative data include internal communication surveys with open-ended questions, employee focus groups, and one-on-one leader interviews.
  • Conduct Usability Testing: User experience (UX) isn’t reserved for your product team. You can use the same usability practices to test and evaluate how employees engage with channels. Consider a usability test for your intranet to understand how people move through the tool or a test for your new employee app to see how employees share information.

We beg you. Do not skip these steps. Evaluating each of your existing communication channels is a crucial part of the audit process. Plus, what you find is sure to be illuminating.

Step 3. Redefine Channel Use Rules

Now that you know what you have and how things stack up, it’s time to refine your strategy. For each channel, ask yourself:

  • What does the data tell me?
  • Should I keep it or scrap it?
  • How should internal comms use it?
  • How should the rest of the organization engage with it?  

Once you have your thoughts together about how you want to use your channels going forward, it’s time to document your brilliance in a way that can keep you, your team and your organization aligned. To help you get started, check out Brilliant Ink’s channel map template for ideas on how to document and share your shiny new strategy.

Sample Channel Map Framework with channel, purpose, audience, owner and metrics.

Step 4: Plan for the Future

In an ever-changing world of work, the “right” communication channels will continue to evolve. Set a regular cadence for when and how you’ll refresh your audit.  

Also, create a plan for how you’ll handle the next new exciting channel that has the comms community revved up. New channels are fun, but are they strategic? Are they sustainable? Are they going to drive the business outcomes you need to see? A return on investment isn’t just a factor for budget; it’s a factor in how to use your time.

And that's it! Ready to dig in?

It all starts with identifying and evaluating your channels (including the ones you don't own), documenting how you'll use these channels and planning for future audits and how you'll introduce new channels. For the full process with additional best practices and pro tips from our team, plus some awesome templates, download our internal communications channel audit toolkit.

Download our templates to help you get started.

Need some help evaluating your channels or designing a sustainable strategy? Brilliant Ink can help! We support clients in all industries with exactly this, so you can drive business results, boost employee engagement, and ruthlessly prioritize how you spend your time.

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest!

Sara Forner Howland

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