Internal communications are a tricky business. With email inboxes overflowing and information streaming through every imaginable online portal, that company newsletter you’ve worked so hard to construct more often than not tends to fall on deaf ears, no matter how many red exclamation marks you attach to it.
But don’t be discouraged. In this case, it’s not what you do, but how you do it that’ll separate success from a double-quick trip to the Deleted Items folder. Internal communication remains a key marketing platform for any business: it’s a great tool to get staff (especially new ones) to understand the company, to get excited about what the business does and to cultivate a great, familiar culture.
So, how do you get your staff to not only open but also to continually refer back to your internal comms efforts? Well, the same way most publications get their readers to refer back to the content they put out there – make it sticky!
Here are five tips to keep your employees engaged with your material:
Spread the word (but not too thinly)
Most people are bombarded with a hundreds (if not thousands) of messages via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, emails, billboards, newspaper headlines, iMessages, Whatsapp etc – usually before they’ve even picked up their first cup of coffee at work! Avoid contributing to this information overload by keeping what you need to say to one medium – whether it be email, a newsletter, a bulletin board or a Facebook update. Having the same information flying at you from six different directions is only going to severely reduce the likelihood of it ever being absorbed.
Bite-sized is best
In the current age of information overload, it’s no secret that people tend not to read or pay attention – especially when what they have to consume is longwinded or intricate. Remember, what you are saying is competing with tens of thousands of other messages! If you have a lot to say, don’t feel like it all needs to be said at once. Rather opt to send your masterpiece out in regular, bite-sized snippets – it’ll make the content far more appealing to recipients.
Give and take
There’s no surer way to lose a reader’s attention than by talking at them. So make sure there’s some way for staff to respond and encourage them to deliver comments, send feedback and to submit suggestions – there is truth to the saying that sometimes people just want to be heard. Just make sure your feedback mechanism is simple and easy to use – if it takes more than one step to deliver said feedback, patience is likely to wane and attention will turn to the next email that just popped into the inbox.
Raise the stakes
A little healthy competition never hurt anyone – and yes that also applies to internal communications. So don’t be afraid to incentivise engagement. Encourage suggestions, opinions and comments by offering up rewards, serving up questions that force users to engage with the material on offer. They needn’t be lavish prizes – “Suggest a new name for the upstairs boardroom and win an iPad” is an enticing, but ultimately very financially damaging subject line – just enough to keep things interesting and sustain attention that little bit longer.
Don’t underestimate how much people love reading about and seeing themselves – let’s face it, in the age of selfies, vanity rules! So get snapping, and make sure you include plenty of mug shots in your content. Not only does it make the content more visual (and thus less intimidating), but it also exponentially increases its virality. Remember, your internal communications should be crafted for your staff, but also about them – that’s how you’ll foster a better sense of community and ultimately, a productive internal dialogue.