Internal communication’s Periodic Table of essential elements

Imagine the fundaments of your in-house messaging laid out like Mendelev’s iconic chart. Actually, you don’t have to imagine that; it’s already been done—with space for your additions.

In 1869, Dmitri Mendelev created the first-ever Periodic Table of Elements.

Since then, Mendelev’s design has evolved into the Periodic Table we know today—an arrangement of all known elements on Earth. Taking you back to high school science class, the table is organized by elements that have similar characteristics and arranges them in groups and families.

Mendelev had the foresight and knowledge to know that his concept wasn’t final: He included all the elements known at that time. He knew it was incomplete and left spaces in his design knowing that new elements would be discovered or created.

The Periodic Table of Internal Communication

I began thinking of ways to provide a similar structure and order to the world of internal communications and immediately thought of the Periodic Table. Being a huge fan of Alive With Ideas‘ work, I approached them (and only them) with my idea of creating the Periodic Table of Internal Communication.

I couldn’t be prouder of what we came up with. The team at Alive With Ideas did much of the heavy lifting in making this idea come to fruition.


Working with Alive With Ideas brought sanity, structure and creativity to this idea. The table is broken down into seven categories:

  1. Strategy. Internal communication strategy is a map, an outline of the organization’s journey. Every strategy should have a clear objective and/or key goals that it wishes to achieve, detailing how they will be delivered.
  2. Objectives. An internal communication team will have many diverse functions, and its purpose will vary from one organization to the next. These are examples of common objectives/desired outcomes.
  3. Themes. Examples of business practices, subjects, areas of the business and other matters that internal communication can focus on.
  4. Audiences. One size does not fit all, and therefore communicators must segment audiences to develop a deep understanding of their communications needs.
  5. Format. Examples of the different approaches and methods that help messages to be shared and communication to be facilitated within an organization.
  6. Channels. The different media through which internal communication messages are carried to employees, each with its discrete uses, characteristics and benefits.
  7. Metrics. The use of different forms of data and some of the main collection techniques for measuring the impact and effectiveness of internal communication.

Think about what internal communications was like five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. It has evolved at an amazing rate in so many ways.

Download this free white paper, “Auditing your Internal Communications,” for a step-by-step guide to assess which communications channels work best for your organization.

Like Mendelev, we recognize that this edition of the table is not final. Here’s your chance to provide input. If there are other elements that you use or think of, submit them on elementsofIC.com.

You can also download your very own Periodic Table of Internal Communication. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn.

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