Review: Internal Communication Strategy

About the author

Martin Flegg Chart.PR FCIPR is a PR professional specialising in internal communication. He is also a guest tutor and assessor for PR Academy on CIPR qualification courses.

Internal Communication Strategy: Design, develop and transform your organizational communication
Rachel Miller

Kogan Page, 2024, 296 pages

If there is a name which is synonymous with internal communication, it is Rachel Miller’s. This is her first book, which has been widely anticipated by the internal communication community who likely already know her best from her huge back catalogue of All Things IC blogs and Masterclasses.

Much of that IC wisdom has been distilled and refined into the book, and practitioners will instantly recognise some of the ‘Millerisms’ within it from her posts such as “working out loud”, “working on, as well as in your IC role”, “it’s our business to know our business” and her signature soundbite of “what happens inside is reflected outside”. For anyone who has followed Rachel and her work for any length of time, there is a comforting familiarity conveyed by these phrases and the thinking which underpins them, but there is also so much more here which is insightful, practical and useful.

The book is in two main parts, ‘writing a strategy’ and ‘implementing an internal communication strategy’ with the two linked together by the Miller Framework which provides the overall thematic structure and progression for the chapters across the two parts. Rachel presents these chapters, and the content within them, as a series of considerations and actions for internal communication practitioners to think about, develop, write and review an internal communication strategy, with a helpful summary checklist included at the end of each chapter.

As the book is about strategic internal communication, there are many of the usual strategic issues and challenges covered such as research and insight, identifying stakeholders, setting objectives and the internal communicators’ perennial nemesis of using data and measurement. The point of difference here is the way Rachel tackles these, and other issues, by providing some fresh thinking and approaches within the Miller Framework and the chapters covering Mindset, Insights, Logistics, Leadership, Evaluation and Revision.

In Chapter 1, the book opens with an introduction to strategic internal communication, which effectively increases the accessibility and appeal of the book for those who do not already work in the internal communication field or who work in other related functions such as Human Resources and Organisational Development.

Being strategic means being proactive, whereas being tactical is about being reactive.

Rachel Miller

All Things IC


A wide range of considerations and issues are covered in this first chapter, including definitions of internal communication, its purpose and importance, myths, and the role and skills of the IC practitioner. The chapter concludes with discussions about what strategic internal communication actually is, with Rachel sharing her own view that “being strategic means being proactive, whereas being tactical is about being reactive”. This simple and concise definition will, no doubt, strongly resound with many IC practitioners who are constantly bombarded by tactical requests from internal organisational stakeholders, leaving them no opportunity or time to think or plan, strategically or otherwise.

Insights into practical challenges such as this, and others throughout the book, demonstrate that Rachel really knows her IC audience and the difficulties they face every day. It can be tough working in an organisation as an internal communicator, and other difficulties, pitfalls and solutions which are covered elsewhere in the book, such as giving unwelcome feedback to leadership (the mirror) in the introductory chapter and avoiding being recruited into the wrong IC (start-up) job in the Mindset chapter are further evidence of this deep and practical understanding of the profession.

Throughout the book, Rachel presents a number of her own models and ways of thinking about familiar problems. For example, in the Insights chapter the three ‘working considerations’ of connectivity, communication and collaboration are offered as a tool to strategically think about and plan communications to support hybrid working, something which many internal communicators will have tussled with during and since the pandemic. In the same chapter, asking questions such as ‘What will I/we gain? and What will I/we lose?’ are offered as a research approach to tease out the communications needed to encourage employee action. In the Logistics chapter, the Internal Communications Relevancy Model of Global-Local-Me, turns the usual communications approach for change (and other topics) onto its head to give employees what they really want to know about first rather than what leadership want to tell them first, increasing communication impact.

The overarching strategic practice, rather than academic, theme of the book is enhanced by the inclusion of many organisational case studies throughout the chapters, presented as the ‘Expert View’, which provide some useful ‘real world’ examples and applications of the techniques covered to develop and implement strategic internal communication in organisations such as Marks & Spencer, Hilton, BBC and The Met Office. This latter expert view in the Leadership chapter explains in some detail how The Met Office used the Miller Framework to develop their internal communication strategy, establishing internal communication principles, identifying sources of demand on the team, establishing solutions to identify stakeholder requirements, managing workflow and defining their overall communications service to the organisation. The detail offered here, and in some of the other ‘Expert View’s in the book, is refreshing and increases the impact of the techniques and considerations covered elsewhere in the chapters.

This is not just a book which offers a template covering how to structure and write an internal communication strategy, although it could be used in this way. It is an extensive pick and mix of strategic internal communication considerations, tools, techniques, models and information sources which can be referenced and used by internal communicators to increase the impact of their practice across the full range of what an internal communicator does; whether that be research, stakeholder management, channel use, data analysis, measurement, evaluation, ethical practice, recruitment, team design and many other topics.

The final chapter, suitably entitled ‘What happens inside is reflected outside’ provides a recap on some of the key themes in the book and looks to the future covering Rachel’s aspirations for the internal communication profession, many of which I and other internal communicators will share.

As she highlights “Internal communication needs to be treated as the strategic function it is and recognised for its ability to transform organisations”.

This requires a shift of mindset and upskilling for many working in the profession, issues which much of this book addresses, as well as having the time and opportunity to work less tactically and more strategically. Having, or more specifically, making the time is perhaps the biggest hurdle of all to working more strategically in internal communication.

As Miller highlights in the opening pages of the book:

“The best time to write your internal communication strategy was yesterday, the second-best time is today”