Making communications centre stage

A recent webinar reminded us that internal communications (IC) have never been more important. The panel of experts claimed Covid-19 had put IC on a bigger stage, one that reflected its true value and growing level of influence. But it’s one thing to know your real value from the wings, it’s quite another to step up and take centre stage to prove your return on investment (ROI) and earn your seat at the table.

IC purpose has definitely risen with 87%* up from 67%* agreeing ICs are viewed by senior leaders as trusted advisors. That said, many still lack decision-making powers with 47%* denying IC has a seat at the table when it comes to business plans and strategies, so there’s still much progress to be made.

A couple of points the webinar raised that particularly resonated with us were tone of voice (TOV) and digital fatigue. A definite change in tone is being seen, in what is being said and how it’s being said. TOV has had to become more authentic and human and we’ve certainly seen that in the IC projects we’ve worked on.

The panel agreed technology had enabled firms to come together in new and creative ways with digital proving the lynchpin during the pandemic for organisational stability. But equally we have to be mindful of digital fatigue, and channel overload. Jennifer Sproul, Chief Executive at Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) urged ICs to step back and consider the immediacy of sending something out straightaway, urging ICs to hold off unless something was deemed critical. She also reflected on the importance of listening to all channels and monitoring open rates and adjusting channel use accordingly.

Gallagher* put it more forcefully when it said that having a specific voice, tone and purpose for each channel is the only way to get this right. It’s a good point but while you may have embraced channels like Zoom, Teams, Slack and Yammer last year you need to keep reflecting on how they work with your organisation. Are they still relevant for what you need, are they inclusive environments or are they overwhelming for some?

It’s hard to interpret what Gallagher meant when it said*: “Digital content is different to anything ‘analogue’. Fact.” One has to hope it wasn’t dismissing traditional channels like mail as part of multi-channel communications as it’d be missing a trick. When used in conjunction with digital, print can be highly effective at improving engagement and fostering good relationships with employees.

And marketing automation platforms and other analytical technologies can really help make clear which channels your employees are engaging with as well as free you from repetitive tasks. In much the same way marketing automation could help an e-commerce provider reach out to customers who abandon their baskets, so too could it enable you to reach out to employees, for instance, who abandon internal surveys. It may be they just don’t feel comfortable engaging digitally in which case the the platform allows for more traditional methods like print to additionally be used as part of your IC.

Marketing automation helps you create personalised content and push it out through the channels your employees best respond to, from email and mobile, to social and print. Not only that but it’s measurable and shows you end-to-end ROI on all your communications activity, which could be very useful when called upon to take a more starring role on the centre stage of your organisation.

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* Source: Gallagher -State of the Sector 2021
† Source: Deloitte 2017 Global Human Capital Trends