I’ve been fortunate to work alongside some of the top thought leaders in internal communications over the years, and their wisdom has been invaluable to me and to my corporate clients. I encourage others to keep learning, even from those outside of your industry, to help you grow and add value in your work. Think differently, and see how your results impact what you deliver.
I’m sharing some excellent tips from Rebecca Gahlagher over at Poppulo from her article, 6 Ways Thinking Like a Marketer Can Improve Your Internal Communications:
1. Know your audience
As part of a routine communications audit, employee focus groups told me that they do not know why they receive certain messages.
Often, they are unclear what the relevance of communication is to them in their role.
For your communication to have an impact, you must take time to understand your audience and target your message.
When major brands launch a new product, they do not create one ad to reach all potential customers. Why do we, or the business leaders we support, assume it is acceptable to do that for employees?
I encourage my team to get to know our employees and find ways to segment communications so we reach the right people at the right time with the right message.
For a fun exercise, create customer profiles by department and geography. What do they like? What do they dislike? How do they view themselves? How do they feel about communication? How do they like to receive information?
Using your existing technology, you can create targeted distributions for emails. You can segment messages by location on digital signage. HRIS database integration allows for customized content on intranet pages or mobile apps.
Leverage channels that meet employees where they work, whether that’s a collaboration tool like Slack, a desktop alert, or, in the case of non-desk workers, high impact floor graphics. To be effective, don’t forget to ask employees how they prefer to receive information as well.
2. Build a strong media mix
“We sent everyone an email, but no one read it.” Sound familiar? Good marketers do not rely on only one vehicle, and neither should you. Internal communications should not rely on a one-size-fits-most approach.
Create a list of all of your communication opportunities (meetings, email, newsletter, digital signage, mobile app, intranet, etc.) and define a strategy for them.
For each, identify what types of messages work best, its audience reach, and how you will interact with employees on the platform. Combine your audience analysis with vehicle analysis and you have a powerful tool for targeted communication.
3. We don’t live in a one-way communication world
As a marketer, I had to convince leaders that converting traditional broadcast GRPs to digital buys (and the human resources to manage social media properly) was a sound decision.
They had to learn to trust consumers with pieces of their brand image. Years have passed, but many internal communicators have not had the same conversation about employee messaging.
Comments are blocked on the intranet. No time is allowed for questions or input outside of formal town halls. If you have a top-down, broadcast-only approach to communication, your leaders are missing out on employee engagement and advocacy potential.
A year ago, my team began crowdsourcing content for one section of our quarterly all-company call and soliciting questions in advance through a name-optional form.
Overall satisfaction with the calls immediately improved 5%. There are free solutions to crowdsource questions. You can also pay for services that allow transparent question solicitation with audience voting as well as interactive polls.
Digital workspaces allow comments; some have forums for informal live Q&A (think of it as an internal Twitter chat) with leadership. Encourage social interactions.
Ask for feedback. Above all, don’t let fear of the unknown prevent you from creating a two-way conversation with employees.
4. Start with the end in mind
Before you write anything, take time to think about what you want to accomplish. What does success look like for this campaign? At the end of the day, what actions do you want your employees to take?
For internal communications, in particular, it is important to connect communications goals to business goals such as increasing sales, improving performance, attaining adoption of a new platform, retaining talent, improving engagement, etc.
Most important, make sure you select SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound).