There comes a time in the life of a growing organisation when you need to think about internal communications. When there were only four of you, all working around one desk, everyone knew everything that was going on. And then when you moved to bigger premises, it was still fairly easy.
But then came the opening of your second office. And you have more colleagues out on the road… and slowly but surely, people feel like they’re not quite in the loop.
Why are internal communications important?
Internal communications are important for both large-scale company culture and branding – and for more pragmatic, everyday, getting-the-job-done reasons.
At top level, a team that functions well is one that feels part of a common purpose. It’s one where everyone knows what the goals of the company are – and what their role is in delivering them.
To get to a point where individuals understand what your company values are – and what your overarching mission is – you need to communicate frequently.
On a more pragmatic level, if you want to prevent silos and boost inter-departmental and inter-functional collaboration, communication is massively important. Teams need to be aware of what other teams do and are doing – so there’s no duplication of efforts and everyone knows who to contact when they need to pick someone’s brains.
There’s also a lot of research that suggests people who feel involved with their organisation also feel more loyal, happier – and tend to be more productive.
So how do you start doing internal communications?
As with anything in life, it’s often helpful to start simple and then build as you find out what works best for you.
Here are our suggestions for starting out with internal communications:
1. Think about who you’re communicating with. Who are they? What are their working hours? Where do they work? How are they going to access the information you share?
If your teams are all out on the road, for example – and working unusual hours – then communicating in group meetings or presentations probably isn’t going to work.
2. What do you need your teams to know?
Internal communications should perform two key functions:
- They’re a useful vehicle for strategic culture-building
- They’re a means to share tactically useful information and updates
For example, if “innovation” is one of your brand values, you can use internal comms to bring this value to life. You could communicate innovations that your organisation is working on. And more importantly, you could communicate ways to be innovative and to think innovatively. On a more pragmatic level, you can communicate information about benefits to your teams and information about what’s happening when – alongside news updates about projects, activities and achievements.
3. Decide the channels you’ll use
A channel is simply a way to let your teams know something. So an intranet is a channel, as is an email or an email newsletter. An intranet is a platform for sharing information internally with your teams. It can’t be found online and it can only be seen by members of your team.
There are tons of easy-to-use intranet platforms available on subscription – just google “intranet platform” and see which one suits you and your company.
The channels you use will depend greatly on who you want to reach, and how your teams are able to access information. An intranet is useful for office-based teams or teams that use computers or phones regularly. However, if your teams are volunteers working in shops, an old-school paper newsletter could be the way to go.
4. Create a schedule
So let’s imagine that you constantly want to be reinforcing the message of “innovation” – and that you also need to let your teams know about events, project updates and wins.
Your next step is to create a schedule of information that you will share. It could look something like this:
|Internal communications schedule|
|Publication date||Final submission date||Content category||Title/ description||Content types||Channels|
|1/6/20||22/5/20||Innovation||Don’t think “failure”, think POC||*White paper *Animation||*Intranet|
|3/6/20||27/5/20||Update||Success at XYZ festival||*Image gallery||*Intranet|
|8/6/20||1/6/20||Update||Meet our new apprentices||*Video||*Intranet |
|26/6/20||25/6/20||Check-in with MD/CEO||Round-up of the month||*Video|
5. Create guidelines
One of the biggest reasons any social media, blogging or internal communication attempt fails is because it doesn’t become part of business as usual. People think of communicating as the thing to do when you have time… and the thing that can be dropped when you don’t.
So put guidelines in place that show how important submitting and publishing content is.
As part of your guidelines, make it clear what all of your content categories are about, what kind of ideas you’re looking for, who to submit ideas to – and what to expect when you submit.
There are some easy things to cover in guidelines – no offensive jokes, banter etc. It’s also useful to manage the expectations of people who are submitting content. So make it clear that you could rewrite, edit or tweak submitted work. And that you may not be able to use everything.
6. Get senior-level sponsorship
To make sure everyone contributes to – and engages with – your internal communications, get your MD or CEO to be the visible face of it. You could also get her to send out an email or newsletter once a week to invite people to take a moment to read or watch particular pieces of content.
7. Get professional help
Everyone can write and shoot a video on their phone. Very few people can do it well enough to be consistently interesting. If you have the resource, it could be worth employing an internal comms specialist. If you’d rather stay lean, get an external agency like Wordtree to help you.
This gives you the ability to keep on top of communications to your teams, consistently, while you get on with your core business.
If you’d like to talk to us about your internal communications, we’d be very happy to help. We support HR and marketing teams in both SMEs and large corporations – and we’d be interested to hear about what you’d like to achieve.