It’s a challenging market. Everyone on your team and throughout your organization is hands on and heads down; they’re focused on getting work done. It’s easy to get caught up in designing and executing strategies to pull in your external audiences – namely your buyers. But what about internal communications?
Sometimes, your internal audiences can be the most important “public” for your PR efforts. After all, if your own people don’t know what’s going on, aren’t excited about it, or can’t (or won’t) share the company’s messages and positioning, how can you expect outsiders to get on board? Internal communications is one of the more difficult areas of corporate communications to harness. And not because employees don’t pay attention or don’t care, but because they’re often an afterthought.
The why of internal communications
Aon Hewitt’s annual Trends in Global Employee Engagement report estimates that every 1% increase in a company’s employee engagement translates into an almost 1% increase in sales. This means investing in internal branding and communications can actually help you grow as a company. The report also states that an increase is employee engagement is a leading indicator of corporate growth.
Workplace dynamics that benefit from effective internal communications include:
- Increased employee engagement and morale
- Building trust and rapport with senior management
- Decreasing rumor mills and uncertainty
- Establishing and reinforcing cultural values
- Having a clear understanding of expectations
Engaged employees are more productive and loyal, refer their friends and family, and also act as informal brand ambassadors. Your internal communications strategy doesn’t need to complicated or overly robust – just clear and consistent (like your PR approach!).
Here are six tips and ideas to get you thinking about internal communications:
Keep it simple.
Where do you want people to go for information? A newsletter? Email? Intranet? Bulletin board? Choose one or two primary communications vehicles and focus your engagement efforts there. Also, consider polling employees for their preferences. If you give people too many places to look, they’ll stop looking.
Short and sweet for the win.
Resist the urge to put it all in one message. Instead of communicating more, communicate more often. People respond better to brief weekly newsletters than they do to quarterly distributions running thousands of words.
Let them know when and where to check for updates. Or don’t.
Either way, make it intentional and part of the plan. If people know when to expect something – especially if it’s something they enjoy – they’ll look forward to it and actively seek it.
Make it fun – and competitive.
Who doesn’t love a good contest? After all, we’re wired to compete (most of us, anyway). Motivate folks to read and act on what you’re sending. Encourage participation in a company-wide initiative, and reward them accordingly. Prizes don’t need to be big or expensive to be appreciated and meaningful. Things as simple and budget-friendly as candy bars, free lunches or a random dress-down day are proven motivators.
Recognition makes a difference.
Internal communications shouldn’t only be about sharing company news and information; they should be personal too. Everyone wants their stories and contributions to be noticed. Establish recognition programs, whether based on core values, standout work, years of service, or something else specific to your brand or an organizational endeavor.
Interactivity is key.
Give staff ways to engage. Encourage them to share or comment on company news, offer ideas or even contribute content (think blog posts!). But you also shouldn’t wait for them to come to you. Institute mechanisms to solicit feedback regularly, even if anonymously. Other collaboration and communication tools, such as Slack, can help make “conversation” across the organization easier and more effective no matter what the topic.
Of course, your internal communications and marketing activities should be as true to your brand promise, values and business goals as your external efforts. And, just like your PR strategy, consistency – in message, channel, frequency, etc. – is critical to success.