A 2-page communications campaign framework

A framework for a campaign to embed your organisation’s strategy. What to do when they ask you for a hearts and minds campaign.

We need a hearts and minds campaign for our strategy.

Every organisation ever

Here’s a simple, adaptable, framework that could work for you.

It relies on these building blocks:

  • Identifying themes in your organisational strategy
  • Finding (proxy) clients for each theme to work with
  • An engagement-led approach
  • Creating tools and products that enable people to change
  • Reinforcing internal broadcast communications

Culture is an outcome not an output

And, while I’m at it, you can’t communicate culture. Not even through “hearts and minds” campaigns *cringe*.

And the reason that you can’t communicate your way to a new culture is that it’s not something that can be done to an organisation. You have to do it with an organisation.

That’s right from defining where you are now, the challenge you’re facing, and where you want to get to.

As for the ‘how you’re going to get there’ that takes a cast of thousands. They just need to support the idea.

What can communications do?

You can share the story of where you think you are, what you think the challenge is, where you think you need to get to, how you think you might get there, and what you hope the benefits might be when you get there. And you can use this to help test the ideas and shape discussion.

You can share stories of where you think you are already doing these things.

You can be clear about what’s up for discussion and what’s not.

You can amplify people’s stories of where they are trying new things and what they are learning.

But you can’t paint a picture of a to be state (however compelling or visual or blanket coverage) and then expect it to be owned and delivered.

Time and space for discussion

The magic ingredient is offering people time, space, and a framework, to find a common understanding, a shared purpose, disagree well, discuss at length, input, build, and sense-make.

Time to debate, tyre-kick, think about things from different angles, and work through what it really means to them as individuals and teams.

Structures and systems, policies and processes

Then, once people have wrapped their head round things, and begun to make it relevant to themselves, you can work with them to help them think through what changes they want to make in the light of it.

Autonomy and ownership

The last piece of the jigsaw is how we support each other and remove blockers. Do people feel as though they are enabled and encouraged?

  • How do your leaders and people managers enable people?
  • How do you share information and ideas?
  • How do you get decisions made?
  • What are your people saying they need in order to get on with things?


  1. Paint your picture – why change, why now, broadly how, why will it be better
  2. Make time and space and structures to help folks test the thinking and make sense of it
  3. Help people think through what they can/want to do to help
  4. Get out of people’s way – make governance, leadership and management supportive
  5. Amplify stories of where it’s working and/or where people are trying things out

What have I forgotten/glibly skipped over?

This is a quick fly-through of the mental map I’ve built from the five or so organisations that I’ve spent time with over the last ten years.

What would you challenge on this? What would you add to it?

Keeping internal campaigns on track

The key to getting results from an internal communications campaign is about working with your sponsors to define clear outcomes (rather than outputs).

The key to getting results from an internal communications campaign is about working with your sponsors to define clear outcomes (rather than outputs).

Preparing for a journey on the Watercress Line

What will the campaign achieve if it’s successful?

The bottom line is…

…will it:

  • deliver a change, or
  • help get something done (an aspect of the organisation’s work).

Critical success factors

Here’s a useful checklist:

  • Have a clear objective that contributes to a shift in audience behaviour, knowledge and perception, or feelings
  • Know how you will evaluate delivery against that objective
  • Know how your campaign supports the organisation to achieve its mission and vision
    • and/or one or more of its milestones, strategic priorities or objectives
  • Use multiple channels during a clearly defined period of time in support of targeted stakeholder engagement activity*
  • Include a means of evaluating the success of the campaign, ideally before, during, and after

*broadcast communications alone will struggle to deliver change. But they can be useful in reinforcing targeted stakeholder engagement.

A stitch in time saves nine

Spending time with your stakeholders to get the what (desired outcomes) and the why and how really straight and watertight is the best investment you can make.

Getting started without getting these properly nailed down can leave you adrift and adding to the comms churn to no point and purpose. Not helpful for your audience, or your sponsor, and demotivating for you.

Internal communicators will never stop being asked to ‘raise awareness/profile’ or deliver a change in ‘hearts and minds’. And helping our stakeholders to think more rigorously is often challenging – especially when they are under pressure to show that they are ‘doing’.

But we’ve gotta try. It’s our duty.

Recipe for a change narrative

A structure to help with writing a change narrative, and suggestions on how to use it.

First catch your ‘why’.


  • 1x background
  • 1x what’s changed
  • 1x what’s the challenge
  • 1x what’s the strategy for facing the challenge
  • 1x how will we need to behave to make the strategy work
  • 1x how do we know it will work
  • 1x what’s the first step we need to take


Mix all your dry ingredients. Make sure that your why and how are evenly distributed.

Use this mix as the basis of your messaging. It is versatile and can be turned into:

  • Key messages
  • Presentations
  • Speeches
  • Elevator pitches
  • Web content (static pages / news content)
  • Social media content
  • Staff briefings
  • Videos
  • Animations

But remember

Show, don’t tell. It’s essential to include the examples of where it’s already working (how do we know it will work), and to keep giving new examples of where it s happening, working, changing…

Even better if you can include a diversity of voices telling stories about where it’s working: colleagues from different areas (managers/ frontline/ leaders), customers, external stakeholders…

Local comms: the view from where you are

Reflections on what internal communications looks like outside of the corporate team – and a reminder of how effective local comms are an essential building block for corporate internal comms.

Effective local comms is an essential building block for corporate internal comms

The view from the Yew Garden at Packwood House (through a narrow gap).
The view from the Yew Garden at Packwood House

When you are working in corporate comms you feel that you have to focus on supporting communications which further the org’s strategy.

Very often, sat in a corporate team, I’d despair at the functions who wanted help with their local comms. (In every corporate team we were never resourced to support local comms.)

I’d give some top-level pointers on what they could do and then move on to looking for stories to demonstrate our corporate messaging, all the while bemoaning the quality of line manager communication.

And sometimes we’d run comms communities to upskill and pool info.

Catch 22

The Catch 22 is clear. And all the clearer for recently spending five months embedded with a team outside of the world of corporate comms.

Good comms within your function reduces frustrations and confusions in your role and makes you feel better about work.

It also makes your team more efficient, reducing duplication, overlap and work at cross-purposes.

And it makes it easier for others to work with you. Especially key if you are offering services and products to others.

Lastly, it also makes it more likely that you will use and support corporate messaging and campaigns by carrying out the essential local context-setting and relevance-adding.

So, my new perspective has confirmed what I secretly knew all along. By not investing in, and supporting, good local communications, corporate internal comms teams are missing a trick.

Good basics

My recently-drawn observations about good basics for local comms (and there’s no rocket science in this, just salutary reminders) are:

  • Two-way face-to-face is still king – equip your local managers and be human about it
    • Brief them regularly with useful info and content – give them a chance to fully understand and interrogate the info
    • Task them with getting their people up to speed face-to-face (but however works for them) – and give them a reasonable amount of time to do it
  • Functional, regular, very short and disciplined, stand-up briefings (in person or online) help people to share essential updates and give visibility of who’s doing what right now
  • Minimise the amount of push and inbox comms
    • Try and consolidate as much as possible into round-ups (including the corporate and divisional comms)
    • Try and allow people to opt-in and out of as much as possible so they can tailor what they receive as a push
  • Maximise the amount of pull communications – and make it easy and effective
    • Build an easily navigable, single place for pull communications which has everything they could reasonably want including the links to the corporate resources they need (recruitment/ reporting/ induction)
    • Make your local management meetings and decision-making transparent by sharing agendas, minutes, meeting dates etc.


This is part of the prescription for the team I’m working with right now (backed up by some proper comms research) – but it’s close enough to my guess in week one. The key is to invest time in taking the people on the journey and getting the buy-in so that they can own and operate the approach themselves.

Inside out

Meanwhile, on the other side of the job, I’m looking at improving communications with customers and stakeholders within the organisation. And the other truism is that it’s hard to do that without getting the team’s own internal comms in hand. More on that in my next post….