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Kick off your 2023 communications strategy faster, stronger, and smarter

Your communication style early in the year sets the tone for what employees and stakeholders can expect through the following months — so now is the time to prepare so you can start off strong.

  • Why it matters: The key is defining what’s essential to your audience from the start. If you don’t, staff are more likely to be unproductive, prone to losing focus throughout the year, and disengaged.

Only 21% of workers feel engaged at work, according to Gallup. This means they aren’t getting what they need from leaders to keep them invested in their role and organization’s mission. But strong updates that offer short but specific insights your audience needs to understand key priorities get everyone aligned around clearly communicated values.

  1. Decide what’s most essential to share.
  • Operational changes. Everything from new process to protocol updates to policy changes are things employees and stakeholders want to know when the year starts. It’s typically a time for new beginnings, so if you’ve got new methods, now is the perfect time to implement and broadcast them. 

  • Goals and new initiatives. Focusing employees around common priorities keeps them making progress in the same direction. Break down items by team, department, or colleague in order to show employees their specific impact and enable them to better communicate down the pipeline — because employees are 2.8 times more likely to be engaged when they regularly communicate with their manager about goals.

  • Culture and People Ops. Everything from employee benefits to DEI updates are essential to keeping company culture going in the right direction. Over 60% of employees stating they consider DEI a key factor in their organization’s ability to be successful. Lead by example and treat these important topics as essential business initiatives. Bring them to the forefront early in the year and make them a priority to send a message of inclusion and openness that will strengthen team building and enhance culture. 

When you establish what’s essential — then share it early in the year and often throughout — so your perspectives, priorities, and the context readers need to understand both become more memorable. And your readers learn to trust where they can always find what they need.

  1. Rally employees with unifying tone and messaging. 
  • Highlight the hard work that got you here. Use last year’s achievements to uplift and highlight what’s possible in the year to come. 

  • Revisit company values or mission. Reiterating gives employees something they can rally around and feel committed to. Try introducing a quarterly award for those who most embody your values as a way to recognize employees and strengthen retention.

  • Keep things human and direct. Your first communication sets the tone for the year ahead. Even amidst change or turmoil, stay transparent, straightforward, and double check word choice to ensure you’re offering inspiration even in times of uncertainty

Making colleagues feel hopeful about what’s to come unifies them around priorities, gives them something to strive toward, and proves the organization has a solid direction to follow.  

  1. Give your communications staying power. 
  • Make it recurring. Now that you know what people want to hear, make sure your updates arrive on a consistent basis. Set up weekly single source newsletters or emails. And structure your cadence by topic or stakeholder as necessary. 

  • Use them strategically. Send messages when they’ll have the most impact. Send updates first thing Monday to start the week strong, 24 hours before a team meeting to get everyone caught up, or before all-hands meetings so your org stays forward looking. 

  • Collaborate to elevate. Bring in other voices to meet that goal of sending weekly. Create a seamless cadence by tapping others to contribute their own essential updates on a regular schedule — lightening the load on any one person while still serving the organization that needs to hear from its leaders often.

  • Collect feedback. Besides looking at open and click-through rates, the only way to truly know what resonates is to ask. Poll your audience about topics they want to see more or less of. Include questions centered around send frequency. See what your poll shows and restructure your sends to increase engagement. 

The more you involve colleagues and prove to them that you care about their input, the more likely they are to feel valued and engaged — not to mention more likely to read your updates. 

Go deeper: See an example all-staff update Axios CEO Jim VandeHei sends every week.