Six Steps to Develop an Editorial Strategy for Internal Communications
This is part one of a six-part series.
- If you don’t know what an editorial strategy is, please start here: What Is an Editorial Strategy for Internal Communications?
At a high level, here are the six steps you must take when developing an editorial strategy for your internal communications function.
- No single step is more important than the others
- No step can be removed
- Go deeper on a topic by clicking the related blog links
1. Understand your goals
Understanding your goals is important because you need a benchmark against which to measure your efforts. And if you want to get that year-end bonus or keep your job, you better have something to prove that you helped move the needle for the company.
- Remember: Goals are strategic. The things you do to support goals are tactics.
There are two kinds of goals in internal communications:
- Business outcomes
- Team optimization
BUSINESS OUTCOMES drive your strategy. You cannot create and publish content unless you know which business goals your team supports.
You shouldn’t be doing work:
- because it “feels right,” or
- because “it’s always been done that way”
Some goals are out of your scope of work. Increasing sales by 20%, for example, is a goal for the sales department.
- But… but… you need to know this goal exists so you can create content that helps salespeople achieve the outcome!
Remember that goals may change during the year, so be flexible.
- Part two of this series will cover this topic in depth.
OPTIMIZATION is an indication of whether you are doing more with the same or less.
Is your team being more productive? Efficient?
Volumetrics (i.e., the measure of volume) is one way to measure optimization. For example, you can count increases (or decreases!) in the number of:
- Open rates
- Number of articles published
- Number of employees who contributed content
You want to get the most bang for your buck.
- Part two of this series will cover this topic in depth.
2. Understand your audiences
Unless your company has just one employee, your audience is not monolithic. Understanding your audience helps you determine what kind of content to create, as well as the best way to deliver the material.
You can categorize your audiences in several ways, such as:
- Hierarchically — where employees sit in the org structure
- Geographically — where employees literally work in the world
- Departmentally — in which business units employees work
Another way to categorize your audience is psychographically. This understanding is not based on where employees sit geographically or in the org chart, but on what they do or value (e.g., creators or drivers or regulators).
Understanding your audience in this psychographic way can be a creative and fun way to mix up a traditionally straightforward comprehension of a workforce.
- Part three of this series will cover this topic in depth.
3. Create content that connects goals to people
Now that you know which business goals you support and you understand the several audiences you’re speaking to, you need to develop content that rings true.
Many questions about content need to be investigated, such as:
- What kind of content performs better? For whom?
- How do you organize your content? Is it by the audience? By theme? By type of content? By channel?
- How do you organize resources for your content? That is, who creates which content? And when? And where?
Content can be any assets — stories, videos, podcasts, digital, photography, gifs, etc.
An editorial series is one way to organize content and it comes with many advantages:
- People outside your team can contribute content
- Consistency is created around quality, timing, and voice
- Content starts to brand itself and builds expectations within the targeted audience
- Relevancy increases and, therefore, so does respect for time and attention
- Measures can be compared over time
- Aligns easily with business goals
Three examples of editorial series:
- Tips for retailers selling clothes: Try This On
- For interviewing airline pilots: This Is Your Captain Speaking
- A blog about work-life balance at a pharmaceutical company: The Chill Pill
Pro tip: A well-run editorial series is also an efficiency play, which boosts your team’s optimization (see step 1).
- Part four of this series will cover this topic in depth.
4. Publish to a platform, not just a channel
Publishing to a platform, rather than to individual channels, is the surest way to increase the return on investment (ROI) for your work.
Channels are distinct outlets. A newsletter is a channel. So is a Twitter feed. And a bathroom poster.
A platform contains contributors, multiple channels, and feedback loops.
Included in the concept of the platform are four levels of activity:
- Ideation and creation
- Engagement and feedback
To ensure you maximize ROI, you must consistently publish to a platform.
- Part five of this series will cover this topic in depth.
5. Look at the data
Tracking and measuring your efforts directly relates to the two goals outlined in step 1. This is the only way to know whether what you’re doing is working or if you’re shouting in the wind.
You can’t just track anything willy nilly or because it’s right at your fingertips. You must ask:
- Which metrics are valuable for your stakeholders?
- Which metrics matter for senior executives?
- What does your team need to measure for its own benchmarking?
- Are some metrics more valuable than others?
Want to go deeper? Ask yourself which metrics you wish you had and see how you can work toward getting them.
Recall in step 1 that we distinguished two types of goals: business and optimization.
You shouldn’t be on the hook for business goals like increasing sales of a widget by 20%. You are responsible, however, for creating content that connects the business goal to the salesforce and nudges them in the right direction. For this kind of effort, you may want to track behavioral metrics.
Behavioral metrics are observable actions that lead to business outcomes. For example, salespeople attending seminars, downloading tip sheets, and reaching out to other sales teams to combine efforts.
As far as optimizing your team goes, I already mentioned how you can (must!) measure volumetrics; i.e., superficial data like open rates, comments, and retweets. You should go deeper.
Optimization is that which makes your team more efficient and high-functioning. Again, refer to step 3 in which we mention how creating an editorial series can be an efficiency play. If you get a series up and running — especially one managed by contributors from outside your team — you have gained a level of optimization. Your team has freed up some time to pursue something else.
- You must measure these kinds of efforts!
- Case study: How to Use an Editorial Series to Extend HR’s Training
- Part six will cover this topic in depth.
6. Try, try again
The circle of an editorial strategy isn’t complete until you take what you’ve learned from measuring (step 5) and:
- Done more of what’s working
- Tweaked what’s giving marginal results
- Stopped doing what’s absolutely not working
This stage of the editorial process is not an end; this is a return to the beginning to ideating and creating. And it all goes back to step 1: understanding your goals.
Repeat this entire editorial process ad nauseum and you will have a highly successful editorial strategy for your internal communications function.
If you want help with creating an editorial strategy for your internal comms function, reach out. I’d be happy to provide some advice and consultation. Email me at email@example.com.