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What Is Strategic Communications and How to Implement Them

Are you asking, What is strategic communications? If so, ask yourself if your internal communications are successful. These 100% free ideas can help you.
Written by: Penny Swift
Published: December 19, 2023
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Strategic communications involve the intentional planning and delivery of focused messages to achieve particular goals and shape desired perceptions within a specific audience, in this context, employees. The question is, Are you meeting the strategic communication goals set for your organization?

We are going to examine this question and consider the reasons why strategic communications are so important

Strategic Alignment is All Important

According to Gallagher’s State of the Sector 2022/23 survey findings, the primary purpose of internal communication is, according to 77-78% of respondents, strategic alignment. These respondents were mostly from internal communication and HR roles and came from those working in enterprises with more than 10,000 employees or very large organizations with 5,000-10,000. Those in medium to large organizations (500-5,000) ranked the priority slightly lower, while those in small organizations (under 500 employees) didn’t consider it to be much of a priority (56%) at all. 

Nevertheless, with an overall ranking of 67%, strategic alignment – “Creating clarity around your strategy and creating a sense of ownership” – is still considered to be the second most important purpose of internal communication. With an overall vote of 74%, culture and belonging – “Creating an inclusive workplace where employees feel valued and energized” – is top of the list. 

strategic alignment

Another interesting finding is that while developing or refreshing internal communication strategies is a priority for 35% of organizations, only 33% have some sort of master plan that covers multiple plans for the year ahead. This is slightly higher for very large organizations (39%) and a lot higher (50%) for enterprises. 

However, measurement of internal communications success remains a problem. Depending on what internal communicators are measuring (for example, employee understanding, communications reach, satisfaction, and so on), only 55%-63% overall are measuring anything at all!

Uncovering the Importance of Strategic Communications

Ultimately, communication is essential to human interaction. No matter what the context, it’s not just about the information you are sharing. It’s about making sure that your message is heard, understood, and acted upon. Without a clear and concise communication strategy, even the best intentions and messages can fall flat and make zero difference to anyone.

We are going to start with a look at what strategic communications is all about. We will also explore the importance of a strategic communications plan. From there we will consider best practices for strategic communications. Finally, we will share thoughts on how best to implement a strategic communication strategy in your organization. 

What Is Strategic Communications?

At first, strategic communication may seem like an impossible idea. It is, after all, a broad term that can be perceived and applied in many different contexts. However, it can also be narrowed down into a concrete definition for internal communicators to garner and act upon. 

Strategic communication is the basis of how people communicate with their audience. This includes many different parts. In an article published in Forbes, Haseeb Tariq, a product marketing expert, considers five components of a successful strategic communications plan. If you follow his advice you will: 

  1. Consider your communications plan and ensure it has a clear purpose
  2. Define your target audience and identify the message you need to share
  3. Decide how you will communicate your message
  4. Decide when you will initiate a strategic communication plan and linked strategy — now or later
  5. Determine who is going to be responsible for your strategic communications

Strategic Communications Definition

According to Arkansas State University, a communication strategy is overarching, and ongoing. It provides a general direction. An internal communication plan, on the other hand, is time-bound and exists in the context of a strategy. At the same time, a communication process is part of a communication plan.  

As internal communicators, you are using these tactics to focus on employee communication. Strategic internal communications raise the value of communication by tying it to the goals and results of the business. This makes it a vital “idea” that needs to be implemented and acted on. 

Strategic Communication Plan vs Communication Strategy

A strategic communication plan is a tactical tool internal communicators, HR professionals, and so on use to support the organization’s much more comprehensive strategic framework. A strategic communication plan relies on a step-by-step process that will lead communicators toward a concrete goal. It operates within the broader framework of the organization’s all-encompassing strategy. 

Here’s an example of a strategic communication plan vs an all-embracing communication strategy.

A business needs to be producing content that is interesting and also hitting the mark in terms of engagement within corporate communication developed to inform and motivate employees. To be able to write stories that are interesting and that generate new ideas, this is what we can do:

  1. Cast a wide net of interest with different content on a general channel. This produces general interest stories. 
  2. Collect the data to be able to segment our audiences. 
  3. Use this process to inspire new stories based on the information we collected.
strategic communication plan

What is the Purpose of Strategic Communications?

The ultimate purpose of strategic communication is to deliberately plan and convey messages. But it needs to be done in a way that achieves specific objectives, shapes perceptions, and fosters desired outcomes among a targeted audience. It also needs to support organizational goals and initiatives. Strategic communication aims to create a cohesive and effective communication strategy that will achieve measurable and meaningful results.

Here’s how we can achieve this objective. 

Align Objectives

Ensure that your communication efforts closely align with your overall organizational objectives. This will help to create a unified and purposeful messaging strategy, enhancing the effectiveness of communication campaigns.

The Gallagher report referred to above found that creating strategic alignments is one of the main purposes of internal communications. But their survey found that less than a third of respondents had “a strategic narrative in place.” They also discovered vast discrepancies between smaller organizations (22%) who feel they don’t need a strategic narrative and enterprise-level organizations (44%) where awareness of the need is much stronger.

Build and Maintain a Good Reputation

Strategic communication should focus on consistently portraying a positive image and addressing potential challenges proactively. This can contribute to building and sustaining a strong organizational reputation over time.

Focus on Employee Engagement

Establish meaningful connections with the target audience through interactive and tailored communication channels. This will foster engagement, loyalty, and a deeper understanding of your audience needs and preferences.

Have a Crisis Management Plan

A well-prepared communication strategy for crises involves timely, transparent, and empathetic messaging. You need this to manage the situation effectively, mitigate reputational damage, and rebuild trust.

Drive Change

Strategic communication plays a vital role in conveying the rationale, benefits, and details of organizational change initiatives. To be able to drive change successfully, you need to foster understanding and gain employee and stakeholder support.

Improve and Enhance Visibility

Increase the organization’s visibility through strategic communication channels and activities. The goal here is to help broaden its reach, attract attention, and reinforce key messages for greater impact.

Positively Influence Perceptions

Craft messages that shape how the organization is perceived by its audience. This will help to create a positive image that will influence stakeholder attitudes and behavior towards the organization.

Facilitate Decision-Making

Provide clear and relevant information via strategic communications to help stakeholders make informed decisions. This will also promote a sense of confidence and trust in the organization.

Promote Consistency

By maintaining a consistent tone, messaging, and branding across various communication channels you can help to build a cohesive and recognizable organizational identity, reinforcing key values and attributes.

Measure Impact

Implementing robust measurement tools and analytics will allow your organization to assess the effectiveness of communication efforts. It will also help you to make data-driven adjustments and demonstrate the impact of strategic communication that relates directly to organizational goals.

Why is Strategic Communication Important?

Strategic communication is crucial because they align messaging with organizational goals. They also shape perceptions, and foster meaningful connections, ultimately contributing to the achievement of desired outcomes and long-term success.

Corporate Identity

Without even realizing it, employers often show their corporate values through their behavior. This is why incorporating corporate identity into strategic communication is highly beneficial. 

By developing strong organizational communication, a company can help employees internalize their core values. These employees will be able to transfer those values into attitudes and behaviors. 

Customer interaction can make employees’ attitudes and behaviors count. In this emerging “experience economy”, the consumer is a guest who wants a personal and memorable employee experience. If those values are being communicated by corporate communication, then your employees will internalize them and reflect them to customers.

Company corporate identity transferred to employees results in better customer interactions.

Company corporate communication transfers a company identity to employees resulting in better customer interactions

Company Culture 

Merging company culture and organizational communication is another incredibly useful strategy. The key lies in successful employee engagement, says Gallup. One of the major issues is that leadership doesn’t often communicate the organization’s intended cultural values and strategy clearly in the new world of work.

Gallup found that “it’s easy to find organizations with serious culture issues.” These same organizations also find there is a poor customer experience reputation or poor business performance, while they maintain that 80% of employees are engaged. 

“While 80% engagement looks good on paper, it obscures the strengths and weaknesses of the culture. When it comes to employee engagement, there’s a big difference between trying to look good and painting a clear picture of what is really happening in an organization’s culture.”


Their take is that there is a very real need to use in-depth, validated engagement measurement tools that will show what is driving individual and team performance in the organization.  

Culture Partners, in its Employee Fulfillment: The Future of Workplace Culture reckons that “employee engagement is dead.” The key, they say, is to move away from engagement to employee fulfillment. That is the way you can ”reconnect your people to your culture with purpose.” They also highlight the importance of strategic communication flowing up and down — which reinforces the importance of different types of communication.

“Leaders need to shift the way they view and gauge the health of their culture: workers are looking to feel fulfilled, not just engaged.”

Culture Partners

Stakeholder Engagement and Trust

Stakeholder engagement in strategic communication refers to the process of involving and interacting with individuals, groups, or entities that have an interest or influence in an organization’s activities. 

Building trust within this engagement is essential, as it involves consistently delivering transparent, credible, and authentic messages that align with stakeholders’ expectations, needs, and values. Trust, established through open communication and demonstrated reliability, fosters stronger relationships, enhances organizational credibility, and contributes to the overall success of strategic communication initiatives.

Competitive Advantage

It stands to reason that it can help more than anything to have a competitive advantage in business. 

A competitive example in strategic communication could involve a company distinguishing itself from competitors by crafting a unique and compelling brand narrative that resonates with its target audience. This might include leveraging innovative strategic communication channels like social media campaigns or interactive content to create a distinct and memorable brand identity. By effectively differentiating itself in the marketplace through strategic messaging and engagement, the company can gain a competitive edge and build a stronger connection with its audience.

Adaptation to Change

The importance of adapting to change in strategic communication relates directly to the ability of an organization to flexibly adjust its messaging and strategic communication approach in response to evolving circumstances, industry trends, or unforeseen events. It involves staying agile and responsive to shifting audience preferences, technological advancements, and external influences. This way business leaders can ensure that communication efforts remain relevant, effective, and aligned with organizational communication and the overall goals of the company. 

By embracing adaptable, strategic communication, leadership can proactively navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and maintain an effective resonance in an ever-changing landscape.

why strategic communications are important

Best Practices for Strategic Communications

When you implement strategic internal communications, this doesn’t mean churning out tons of content just for the sake of surface-level communication. There is a critical need for attention to detail and deep thinking, which positively affects your employees. 

Employees generally want to feel connected to the organization they work for. One way to meet this need is through purposeful leadership communication and a good strategic communication plan. Here are some suggestions:

  • Casually connect with employees and maintain open communication. These can be in the form of office walkabouts, random employee cafeteria visits, and a bunch of light-hearted, personal interactions.  
  • Communicate with specific employee groups via round table discussions, employee advisory groups, various departments, and so on. 
  • Connect with individual employees and/or groups to share key messages and recognize achievements. There are many ways of doing this by using videos or podcasts, live-streamed webcasts, and email shout-outs. 
  • Provide an open, if needed anonymous employee-focused forum for asking questions. Possibilities include a web chat forum, question-and-answer website (“ask the CEO”), surveys, and questionnaires.
  • Inform and educate employees about organizational values and progress toward goals. Important channels include emails, employee intranet, and a wide variety of meetings.

Strategic communication makes a large impact on employees’ relationships within any organization. The strategy is what internal communicators come back to when they make a decision or send out a corporate communication. The specific parts of it – good company culture and corporate identity – strengthen the bond between employees and the company in most cases.

How to Implement Strategic Communications in Your Organization

You need a thoughtful, systematic approach to strategic communication that aligns with the organization’s more clearly defined strategic communication plan. Key elements to include employment a strategic communication strategy are:

  • An understanding of organizational objectives and an ability to align communication efforts with overall goals and objectives.
  • Inclusion of a communication audit that assesses the current state of internal communication to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • A definition of key messages that need to be communicated to support organizational objectives.
  • Identification of target audiences. These should be segmented so that messages are relevant to those with different roles, departments, and communication needs.
  • The choice of appropriate communication channels based on the nature of messages and preferences of each target audience.
  • Creation of a content calendar to plan and schedule strategic communication activities.
  • Engagement with leadership to secure its support and involvement in corporate communication efforts. 
  • Two-way communication from leadership down and employees upwards. This encourages feedback and can be used to address employee concerns. 
  • Implementation of training and development to improve communication techniques used by employees as well as team leaders.
  • Establishment of solid metrics that will enable internal communications to assess the effectiveness of strategic communication efforts.
  • A willingness to be flexible and willing to adapt the strategic communication plan based on feedback and changing organizational needs.

Cerkl Broadcast is a powerful platform that was designed to suit the needs of any size organization, regardless of its structure. Ideal for internal communicators, it serves as a centralized hub for all types of communication. When you develop a strategic communication strategy, you can rely on Broadcast for effective planning that makes the end result more effective and manageable.  

Tarek Kamil, Cerkl CEO, offers insights from a recent conference on Strategic Internal Communications

What’s Next?

Now is the time to audit your corporate communication strategy. Ensure you’re communicating through the right channels at the right frequency with our Internal Communications Channel Audit worksheet.


What is strategic communications?

Strategic communications are the result of a planned, coordinated approach to conveying and sharing information. It’s used when specific outcomes are required and is commonly used for internal communications within a broad range of organizations.

What are examples of strategic communications?

There are many reasons for developing strategic communications plans. For example, they are great for reinforcing corporate identity, establishing a company culture, corporate branding, and crisis management.

What do strategic communicators do?

Strategic communicators plan, develop, and execute communication strategies to achieve specific goals.

What is a strategic communications plan?

A strategic communications plan serves as a roadmap for organizations to navigate and optimize their communication efforts. It is a structured document that outlines goals, target audiences, key messages, and various coordinated activities designed to effectively convey information and achieve specific objectives. It also maintains consistency and adaptability in response to various communication needs and challenges. 

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