Your Internal Communication team has a strategy and plan. Their objectives are clear and the senior team is signed up to the value of good communications and the outcomes it drives.
But what activities constitute best practice for an Internal Communication team? We know what they need to produce, but how do they achieve their outputs?
Read the following eight top tips for best practice Internal Communication.
Top Tip #1: Make sure your media is mixed
The media – or the materials – used to convey messaging is the key to a winning Internal Communication function. Dull posters or unimaginative announcements will soon switch staff off but a good mix of different media – think video, blog posts, dynamic adverts and even branded giveaways – will ensure your employees prick up their collective ears. It’s the job of the Internal Communication team to get the driest of corporate messages out to those that need to know and generate some interest in doing so.
Top Tip #2: Create an event-full calendar
This tip is also about keeping things fresh and engaging. Sometimes the written word just isn’t enough and it’s then that the Internal Communication team needs to look at events such as conferences, live briefings or focus groups to garner the interest and involvement of their internal audience.
With the evolution of social media, these events can also now be virtual so don’t need to cost the business in terms of venues and travelling time but can still present a great opportunity to give the messaging some reality and context.
Top Tip #3: Remember: sharing is caring
Often, businesses operate in silos and can take the view that information is power, holding things close to their chest.
Replacing this outdated adage with the much more inclusive ‘sharing is caring’ can mean a more positive culture where knowledge management is celebrated and sessions such as ‘lunch & learn’, laid on by the Internal Communication team who often have the luxury of a ‘helicopter view’ of the business, facilitate a more open structure within an organisation.
Top Tip #4: Always look for the story
Storytelling is well-documented to be a successful way of communicating. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that the human brain responds differently to being told a story than to, say, watching a PowerPoint presentation.
For the Internal Communication team, running themes or storylines through their communication calendar can provide a linkage that increases the effectiveness of their work.
Top Tip #5: Publications still have a place
The vast majority of companies have a percentage of non desk-based staff so there’s still a place for good old print in the Internal Communication offering. Ultimately, you are offering your employees different choices for the way they take in the information you’re providing and some will find a magazine or newsletter in the canteen the best way to find out what’s going on around the business.
Top Tip #6: Get social!
Many businesses are wary of introducing social media style apps and platforms into their internal communications because there’s a perception that people will become less efficient if they start using them. However, times are changing rapidly and these tools are evolving too. There’s a huge wealth of data that says employees who can easily contribute to in-house discussions will be better motivated and engaged and this, in turn, leads to a better employer/employee relationship.
So, don’t discount the digital stuff – check out the huge range of options and see whether one fits your business model and delivery needs.
Top Tip #7: You cannot manage what you cannot measure
Like its marketing brother, Internal Communication is traditionally tricky when it comes to measuring impact on the bottom line. But the simplicity of finding trends and measuring online success through analytics is improving things.
The best practice advice is definitely to include metrics and measurements whenever you can – even if they don’t belong to the Internal Communication function. For example, the HR team should regularly assess employee engagement and recruitment or retention rates and both these measures are impacted by internal communication’s activity.
Top Tip #8: Avoid information overload
Oddly, one of the most valuable roles an Internal Communication team can play is to restrict information flow. Obviously, this needs to be done in a controlled way – but releasing too many major announcements or launching too many engagement campaigns can be confusing and lead to a lack of action or response from your audience. With their helicopter view, internal communication should be able to help the various directorates plan the best time to release their news, this giving employees time to pay attention to everything in turn.