Building an internal communications strategy that ties in with your culture and values

IntegrityYou cannot have a conversation about internal communication (IC), without having a conversation about the brain, about social media, about employee engagement, about leadership, and about culture.

So, how do you begin to formulate an IC strategy? Which of these subjects do you tackle first? In what order? Who do you bring into the discussion? And, when?

Well, there are invariably lots of opinions on that. But, in the end, each practitioner has to develop his own philosophy, and build a strategy that’s consistent with his own beliefs, values, and experiences.

For me, I have my own unique perspective on IC strategy, based on my years publishing a weekly newspaper in a large metropolitan US market.

There I found links between internal and external communications, between external communications and audience engagement, which for a media company, is the end game. For a newspaper, the product is “editorial integrity.” That’s both what we were selling and why we were selling it. Editorial Integrity.

Without it, we had no business. It was our core value, and it had to become our core competency. In order to achieve that, in a small company, integrity had to define our culture. And, it has to be obvious.

Looking back, a very important element to our success had to do with hiring. We looked for integrity in the people we hired, but more importantly, we looked for diversity. And, not just ethnic diversity; but diversity of backgrounds, of perspectives. When we came across people who might be considered odd for one reason or another, we considered them more closely. And, more often than not, we hired them.

I don’t know if we knew exactly why we were doing this, but looking back, it helped us create a culture that was tolerant, and respectful. Maybe we were hyper-sensitive about offending each other, given our diverse sensibilities. Or, maybe we really wanted deeply to connect with each other because we were so different. But for whatever reason, we looked after one another, and even protected one another from the “conventional” world. We were the misfits that could joke openly about one another, but for whom no one else dare threaten or offend. “Personal Dignity” was an expressed value and I adopted a “zero tolerance” policy to underscore its importance.

So, from my perspective, diversity (of opinion), personal dignity, and cultural curiosity are key ingredients to approaching the question of internal communication within an organization. You may have others. And, I would urge you to build your communication strategy using those as the foundation. Begin with what YOU truly believe–with what YOU see, feel, and know.

Plant those values at the base of your pyramid, and be sure that future decisions honor those values.