Whether you’re still getting to grips with hybrid working, focussing on retention, or dealing with staff shortages, employee engagement should be at the top of your agenda. Internal communications can work wonders here – but it needs to be planned, managed and executed very carefully.
The first step of any internal comms programme should be to consider the audience, the messages you want to land, and how you will evaluate success. Without this type of strategy, your internal communications programme is likely to end up being largely reactive, leaving you feeling like you’re always fighting fires.
To avoid this trap, consider building a ‘real world’ strategy that taps into business initiatives, awareness days and other events, rather than treating your organisation as if it sits separately from the wider business environment. Your internal comms plan should set out key dates for activity as well as the types of content you want to produce; this way, comms will be delivered in the right format and when they’ll have the greatest impact. Effective planning will also enable you to build a stream of activity over time.
You should always consider a range of channels – both internal and external – for any internal comms. Everyone consumes content and engages with communications in different ways and via different channels, so internal comms strategies should be developed with this in mind. Content can be developed in a wide variety of mediums, from the written word to visual assets. Blogs, podcasts, videos and social media also have a role to play here, as they will give employees even more opportunities to engage with your content.
Internal communications should not be a one-way street. Even your most formal announcements should be seen as an opportunity to capture your team’s thoughts and feedback and get their insights. Whether you are sharing positive or negative news, it’s important to encourage team members to get involved. Understanding how teams are reacting to your content is essential, as it can help you do more of what is working well – and abandon what isn’t.
Your employees can help in other ways too. There are likely to be people within your team who would be happy and suitable to be ambassadors for the business, producing their own content, helping to shape the internal comms messaging and generally acting as advocates for the internal communications strategy. Identifying, engaging with, and collaborating with these people will not only amplify the impact of your internal comms programme, but also provide a level of authenticity that can’t be replicated by one-way, top-down communications.
Internal communications that promote positive news can act as a morale booster for teams, aiding retention and potentially making it easier to recruit – so look for opportunities to shout about what’s going well; this approach will also help teams feel rewarded and valued for their hard work.
If you have less positive news to deliver, make sure you do so in a way that leaves people feeling involved, respected and engaged. Making redundancy announcements via video call isn’t something that goes down well, for example. Bad news needs to be delivered sensitively, in a timely fashion, and ideally in person. And don’t make the mistake of mixing your own feelings into the announcement (“I feel horrible about having to deliver this news”); it’s not about you, it’s about your audience, how they are affected, and what the company is doing to support them during a challenging time.
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