What is strategic communication & how to make your own comms strategy

What is strategic communication & how to make your own comms strategy

What is a communication strategy? Do you need one? And how do you make one for you and your team?

Ah, communication. We all do it all the time. I'm doing it right now, albeit grudgingly, because we ran out of coffee. You and I communicate with other people almost daily, every day of our lives. But very little of this communication is actually strategic. This is because tragically few brands, companies, and agencies have taken the time to fully develop a communications strategy.

Let's discuss why strategic comms is necessary, how to make it happen, and how to get your team on board.

What is strategic communication?

Strategic communication is creating systems by which your team can communicate internally and externally. This includes building processes and workflows to manage, track, and archive internal and external comms.

That is a stuffy, formal way of saying: strategic communication is about creating ways for people talk to one another both inside and outside of your company. Yes, it's that simple (and that monstrously complicated).

Internal vs. external comms

Internal communication is everything you say inside the company. This could be anything from team meetings and all-hands to employee newsletters, internal memos, and handbooks. Whenever an employee talks to another employee, that's internal communications.

External communications is everything you say outside the company. This includes press releases, community-facing newsletters, advertisements, your website, and social media posts. Pretty much anything you say publicly to non-employees is external communications.

Why you need a communications strategy

So, what's the point? Why make communication more complicated by creating pedantic systems and processes around conversation? That's a good question, my skeptical reader. Here are just a few ways that a lack of strategy can negatively impact your business:

Continuity & organization

Communications these days, both professional and personal, are… scattered. You know the feeling: you message a friend via text, and they respond on Instagram about an email they forwarded you earlier, which included a question about a DM they sent you on TikTok. It's chaotic and messy. Business communication can be this way, as well. With so many tools and avenues, things can get lost easily without deliberate continuity.


This point is especially important for external communications, where your team will be (hopefully) interacting with fans, consumers, potential customers, and stakeholders. A robust strategy for external comms is necessary to keep brand messaging consistent. You don't want one person on the team treating the company Twitter like the National Parks Service and another treating it like Wendy's.


You know the saying, "Your brain is for having ideas, not storing ideas"? Communication is sort of like that, too. A good comms strategy will also include a way of storing and referencing communications. Whether that's an archive, a comms tool with a robust search feature, or a little of both.

There should always be a way to find and reference previous internal and external communications without taking hours out of your one precious life.

Examples of strategic communications

I will highlight the importance of strategic communication through the power of storytelling. Sit down at your nearest campfire (or build one if you have to) and listen to my sultry voice as I tell you these business stories.

You can borrow this one.

Example #1 Social media meltdown

An unhappy customer blasts you on X. They say your company stole money from them by charging the annual fee after their trial period, which they definitely agreed to and just forgot to cancel before the 14 days were up.

Unstrategic nonsense response: The sales rep writes a professional, apologetic email offering to extend the trial and make things right. At the same time, the marketing intern flippantly responds to the post, saying that the customer is a dummy and should have read the fine print better. The situation escalates out of control because nobody communicated internally, and there was no P&P established for these kinds of crisis comms situations.

Strategic response: The company decides beforehand that the success team will handle customer complaints. The social media person hands off the message, letting the rest of the team know what's going on. Customer success takes over, marketing drafts a carefully worded reply, the relationship is salvaged, and everyone is happy.

Example #2 New hire

A new employee is brought on. They are given a rundown of the company and told, "Good luck!"

Unstrategic nonsense response: They are generally left to fend for themselves and figure out who reports to whom, what tools are used, etc. Onboarding takes a ton of time because they have to figure it out as they go. Many more senior employees are tasked with explaining who does what and how to the new person. The employee is left feeling destabilized and like they are annoying everybody with their questions due to a lack of strategic comms P&P.

Strategic response: Someone spends a few hours drafting a useful, actionable communications guide for new team members. It takes time and several re-writes, but new employees now have a helpful guide to refer back to to figure out how the company communicates. Everybody claps.

Example #3 Internal conflict

The sales team is having problems working together internally. One side feels unheard and devalued. The other feels like they have to carry too much of the workload.

Unstrategic nonsense response: Eventually, everything disintegrates into a passive-aggressive mess. Several team members leave because they are tired of not feeling overworked. The company suffers.

Strategic response: The team has a meeting with the predesignated internal mediator. Team members can express their feelings and come to a consensus about what to do moving forward. Tensions ease over time.

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The magical formula for calculating PR value ✨

JK! There's no secret sauce, so don't waste your time looking for one. Instead, do these three things (you won't believe #2!)

How to create a communications strategy

Here are some tried, true, and tested steps to build a solid internal and external communications strategy.

Step 1: Identify the audience for each person

Who is talking to who (or is it "whom")?

Knowing who your team is communicating with and why is the most important first step. Without identifying this essential bit of info, everything else will be scattered, incomplete, or inefficient. So, who are people talking to? Who are they reporting to?

Who is responsible for speaking with customers?

Which marketing person is sending out the tweets?

Who speaks to clients?

Your audience will vary dramatically based on the type of company, the type of audience, how many employees you have, if you're an agency or a solopreneur, etc. But, for the most part, it makes sense who speaks to whom based on their role.

As a side note, this step is important not only for internal communication purposes, but also for consistency and professionalism from the outsider's perspective. If your customers or clients consistently talk to different people every time they interact with the business, this will lack continuity and create confusion.

Questions to ask when deciding on your audience:

  • Who are you trying to attract?
  • How does your target audience want to be communicated with?
  • Who speaks to whom, why, and how often using which communication channel?
  • Who is designated to which comms role?

Step 2: Decide on the framework

So, now that you know who is talking to whom (yes, it was whom), what will this look like? What is the workflow to ensure that your employees can connect with each other and with potential customers, current customers, stakeholders, and enemies?

Questions to ask when deciding on your framework:

  • What tools will you use for your internal/external comms?
  • How much money are you willing to spend on tools for this framework (which can get really, really expensive)?
  • How will those tools work together?
  • Are there any "holes" in your process where comms can get lost or misplaced?

Step 3: Establish the "tone"

What is your agency tone? This is primarily an external comms question, but it can be relevant to the overall internal vibe, too. Is your brand super formal and serious? Feral and goofy? A confusing, whiplash-inducing mixture?

Every good brand kit or guidelines should have a section about the agreed-upon company brand voice. New employees, particularly customer-facing ones, should know and be able to match the tone relatively quickly after joining.

Questions to ask when deciding on your tone:

  • Does your tone match your audience?
  • Is your tone culturally aware and consistent?
  • Is it possible for your tone to be misinterpreted accidentally (or wilfully, by your enemies)?

Step 4: Get it all down in an easily-accessible P&P

Now that you know what you're doing, write it down. Make it available to everyone for easy reference, and refer back to it consistently.

Questions to ask when drafting your P&P:

  • How accessible is it by everyone on the team?
  • Is everyone able to log into the tools that you've decided on? And if not, who do they talk to?
  • Who is responsible for keeping policies updated and reflective of ongoing changes?

Step 5: Continually evaluate for improvements and breakdowns

Obviously, you will need to update this document regularly as new situations and company changes unfold. Few things in life (or business) can be established once and work perfectly forever without updates.

Companies change, roles get shuffled around, tools are swapped out for other tools, etc. For example, we at Prezly have a handbook that acts as a sort of living document that we regularly revamp.

Questions to ask when evaluating for improvements and breakdowns:

  • How has the company changed since the last P&P review?
  • What isn't working?
  • How can comms be improved internally and externally?

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  • Measure performance to see who's engaging with your stories

Our favorite tools for strategic communications

If you want to build a framework for strategic communication, consider checking out this tech stack. These tools may or may not be the exact ones Prezly uses to do our strategic comms. We've arrived at this particular comms tech stack after much laborious trial-and-error with tons of tools over the years as a fully remote, 20+ person team. Feel free to steal our whole vibe.

But! Do keep in mind that we are very specifically a remote, SaaS company. You may have a whole different set of needs. See our list of the best digital PR and comms tools for more inspo.

#1. Slack

Useful for: Communicating internally with teammates, one-on-one chats, organizing projects

Alternatives: Teams, Discord

#2. Notion

Useful for: Company wiki, P&P and handbook, organizing projects, high-level tasks

Alternatives: Monday, Obsidian, Workflowy

#3. Linear

Useful for: Task management, delegating projects, updates

Alternatives: Trello, Asana, ClickUp

#4. Prezly

Useful for: Internal/external newsletters, press releases, newsrooms, email campaigns

Alternatives: None; we are the best

#5. X & LinkedIn

Useful for: Content distribution, company news, memes

Alternatives: Instagram, Threads, Facebook, TikTok, MySpace

#6. Zoom

Useful for: One-on-one meetings, all hands, brainstorming sessions

Alternatives: Teams, Skype, meeting face-to-face

Useful for: Customer support, relationship management

Alternatives: LiveChat, FreshDesk, Zendesk

Of course, we use different tools here and there for other things. But these are the primary ones we used to communicate with each other and our customers throughout the day.

Go forth and create your perfect communications strategy

Alright, you now have all the tools needed to develop a communication strategy that works for you and your team or business. Congratulations on never miscommunicating ever again.

Did we miss an essential aspect of building an excellent comms strategy? Communicate with us on X or LinkedIn!

Katelynn Sortino

Katelynn Sortino

Storyteller, Prezly

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