How to Choose the Right Communications Channel

Internal communications teams must opt for the channel that best serves their given purpose and audience.

This article has been updated from a post originally published on May 4, 2016 by CEB, now Gartner.

Internal communications teams are tasked with conveying all kinds of messages, but they don’t always pick the most effective channel to do so. Too often, these teams fall into the trap of trying to get an important message out quickly rather than taking time to consider how it fits into their overall communication strategy.

“If there has been a senior leadership change, for example, it can be all too easy to think, ‘I’ll just write a quick post on the intranet,’” says Iliyana Hadjistoyanova, senior research analyst at Gartner. “Instead, comms should be asking, ‘How do I make sure employees are informed in the right way and feel equipped to deal with this leadership change?’”

Read more: Strategic Planning for Communications

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4-step process

Start by identifying the channel that best supports the targeted business objectives — and then take these four steps to optimize your channel strategy:

  1. Add and use different channels more frequently as they become more popular and as necessary to reach specific audiences. Research current stakeholder behaviors on different channels such as social media, and determine which ones they use and which are influential.
  2. Experiment with new channels and measure their effectiveness before using them frequently.
  3. Evaluate your channel options and select the channel mix that is most appropriate for your objective and target audience. For example, consider which nontraditional channels are best for different types of employees, such as remote workers.
  4. Use the channel selection guide below to identify which channels are best suited for your communication objectives.

It’s easy to rely on preferred communications channels; the channel selection guide helps orient you toward the best channel — or channels — for a given purpose and audience. Critical to the equation: How does your target audience like to consume information?


Gartner for Communications Leaders clients can access this guide to creating a communications strategic plan.

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