A critical component to business success is an actively engaged workforce. And one way of almost guaranteeing you don’t have one is by producing dull internal communications (IC).
If, when reading an article, you yawn before the second paragraph, what are the chances of you finishing it? Pretty slim, right? Well, the same goes for your staff when they’re skimming the weekly newsletters, email updates and intranet features.
IC doesn’t need an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza each time a newsletter goes out.
When done well, internal comms can facilitate effective communication between senior leaders, managers and personnel; help foster a culture of collaboration, productivity and performance; as well as develop and define a company’s internal culture. If your IC is like digital chloroform, it’s probably not all it could be.
So what should you consider?
First off, your internal communications should always mirror the values of your external marketing activity. For your employees to actively embrace your brand, they need to feel its promise is delivered across the board. Doing one thing and preaching another only foments distrust.
To be interesting, IC doesn’t need an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza each time a newsletter goes out. In fact if you want to increase the likelihood of people actually reading the content you publish, it’s probably best to keep it short and simple.
Don’t go overboard
If you’ve got a lot to say, don’t send out a Kerouacian-style stream of consciousness to get your message across – some people find that a little heavy going (have you read Big Sur?). Instead, communicate more often. Busy people will respond better to light, breezy, easy-to-digest newsletters than they will to impenetrable blocks of text.
This idea of keeping things simple should also be applied to how you use your IC outlets. Newsletters, bulletin boards, emails, team meetings – there are plenty of platforms available, but publishing content on all of them won’t work either, regardless of how light and breezy it is.
Mix it up
Something we practice here at Southerly is interweaving business messages with fun weekly contests. This week for example was a 10-question quiz on global brands, and the person with the highest score got to choose what next week’s haul of biscuits will be. I’ve yet to win one of these competitions, but we’re all expecting a truckload of Jaffa Cakes to turn up at the office on Monday, so no one really loses.
As a way of encouraging more people to take notice of specific communications, you can even incorporate a competitive element into the message itself. This way, not only are people more likely to take in the important information, but they might also be inadvertently enjoying themselves. Ha! Genius.
Freedom to interact can help nurture a company-wide community culture.
As with Southerly’s imminent delivery of Jaffas, people appreciate rewards. Recognising employee participation with prizes let’s staff know their company cares. You don’t necessarily have to spend a king’s ransom on extravagant gifts to convince them of this – the emphasis needs to be on it being a kind gesture, and not some sort of ‘bribe’. Things like cinema tickets and Waterstones gift cards have proved successful in other companies.
Much like content marketing, the value of your IC can be measured by how well it resonates with the people it’s targeted to. If the public is commenting on external blog posts, you know you’re on to a winner. Likewise, if people are discussing your newsletters, you’ve got a good thing going.
So ensure your employees are able to respond to and give feedback on anything you publish, as this freedom to interact can help nurture a company-wide community culture. Nokia is a company that’s been at the forefront of this approach. One of its most effective tools is its internal BlogHub where employees at all levels can post or comment on posts. It’s used as an idea-sharing mechanism and also as a way for management to gather employee feedback.
We would say that investing in content marketing is essential, but we’re equally as passionate about improving our clients’ internal comms. After all, internal communications are a company’s gateway to an actively engaged workforce. And Jaffa Cakes…