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How to build a tech stack for multi-channel internal communications

Creating a strong tech stack is critical for any organization — and its individual contributors — to succeed. It’s especially important for communication leaders to have the tools they need to engage employees and others stakeholders as well.

  • Why it matters: No two teams or teammates are exactly alike, so reaching them effectively requires a thoughtful, multi-channel internal communication strategy. Most organizations have multiple tools already. Most also aren’t using them to their full effect.

“You must analyze all of your channels. What do you have at your disposal? What are you currently using?” Blair Aires, who has held communication roles at The Kraft Heinz Company, Chobani, Edelman, and Centric Brands, said at a recent Axios HQ event

Start by asking for feedback

​​Find a mix of channels that work for your audience by observing their communication habits, acknowledging the channels where they spend their time, and asking their input on where they prefer and expect to receive important updates.

A few of the most common, from Blair’s perspective:

  • Email. "Email's probably one of the most critical channels that you have in your ecosystem.” It's what 60% of her current employees want because it delivers what they need right to their inbox — and it can be tailored to specific audiences. 
  • Newsletters. Employees specifically request newsletters so they have one central place to know what is happening. Blair sends a separate bi-weekly newsletter for leaders so that they know what's coming up for the organization, too. 
  • Intranets. Some companies use intranets as a place where employees can find links to additional resources. Others use it to house crucial information. Employees need to know your intranet's purpose and then be directed there via other means, like newsletters. 
  • Mobile apps. These can be great — if you get employees to download and actively use them on their personal devices, which is a hard sell. Typically, Blair has found these end up working for niche groups within a company unless leaders make an app their go-to comms resource. 

Finding the right comms channel mix comes down to "reducing the number of steps someone needs to take to get the information they need to do their jobs," Blair said. Once you know where they’re willing to engage, the next step is optimizing the tools to help you deliver it there. 

Revise your communication tech stack

Each company and industry will need different channels that resonate with their employees and unique needs. With that in mind, Blair recommends several tools that help get messages delivered as part of your multi-channel internal communications strategy. 

Blair’s suggested tech stack:

  • Email/newsletter platform: “Axios HQ, of course!”
  • Intranet: “Service Now is great, but can be costly. We use WordPress.”
  • Surveying tool: “Microsoft Forms for quick pulse surveys. Glint for larger ones.”
  • Mobile app provider: “Facebook Workplace and FirstUp are the two I recommend.”
  • Display management: “Bright Signs is the one I’ve used. I like how you can target your content by audience and location.”
  • Communications planning/calendaring: “I still use PowerPoint and Excel.”
  • SMS: “For crisis situations, we use SendWord Now.”
  • Video conferencing: “Zoom is by far a better experience.”
  • Chat/instant messaging: “I love Slack, though we currently use Teams.”

The bottom line: Choose the tools that will reach your employees where they are, then share what you’ve learned with all the leaders who help you communicate. “You need your leaders to deliver your messaging, to get their employees engaged because their employees are listening to them more so," Blair said. 

Go deeper: Get a free worksheet to assess your comms channel and define their identities. 

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