As a public relations professional, I’m familiar with defining audiences as internal or external, but I’m frequently surprised at how often the first audience gets overlooked. In my years working in both the creative agency and corporate marketing settings, I’ve observed a consistent trend with most companies: They spend the bulk of their communications budget, time and efforts strictly on external audiences without evaluating the value of a strong internal communications plan.
In my experience, most companies don’t think about internal communications until disaster strikes, or internal problems bubble up to the point that they cannot be ignored. That is not the recommended approach we learned about in school or preach at public relations seminars. So why do many businesses alienate this important audience? My best guess is lack of information or the assumption that it will require more resources than available.
If you’re on the fence regarding an internal communications plan, I can assure you there is value in a properly executed program. While engaging with your internal audience (employees, stockholders, board of directors, etc.) won’t directly increase your bottom line, it can result in various benefits including camaraderie, efficiency and increased productivity. Ultimately, these benefits have great potential to improve a company’s financial wellbeing too.
If you see the value of internal communications, but don’t quite know where to start, here are five simple ideas to consider:
Develop an employee newsletter. This is one of the most common internal communications tools for a reason. A regular newsletter delivered to employees’ inboxes each month or quarter will help everyone stay on the same page, learn about other departments, reinforce company culture and share the company’s successes. The content is important, but the real value of this tactic is frequent, scheduled communication to all internal audiences.
Establish brand standards and use them. Most companies have brand standards that include their mission, voice, color palette and other unique characteristics of the company—but many don’t embrace them internally. Each employee should know their company’s brand like the back of their hand. When employees fully understand the brand, they live the brand, and that trickles down to their work, customer service and more.
Turn your employees to advocates. Who better to champion for your business than the real people who know the place inside and out! By working with your employees to create an employee advocacy plan, you can boost your company’s reputation in new authentic ways that reach far beyond the walls of cubicles.
Foster a positive culture. A strong company culture begins at the top. Start with creating a communications plan to make your leadership team more approachable and accessible. This could include monthly meetings, presentations or social media. No matter the communication vehicle, the key is to strive for a conversation and not a presentation. Members of leadership should make an effort to show they are relatable and value what their employees have to say.
Gather employee input. Sometimes it’s most beneficial to step back and gauge employees’ feelings about internal communication before implementing any plans. Conduct an internal and anonymous survey to discover which areas need the most work and get great ideas for how to address any communication issues.
If you need more ideas to help engage your internal audiences or if you need assistance in developing or executing an internal communications plan, contact Insight Creative and talk with our team of experts.
Emily was managing editor of the national cable marketing magazine delight!, and previously managed marketing projects for top cable providers in the nation. Diverse writing experience, combined with exceptional organization and strategic planning skills, make Emily a key component of the content department. Emily holds a degree from UW-Oshkosh in journalism, with an emphasis in advertising/public relations.