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3 Strategies to Borrow from External Communicators to Improve Internal Communication

Posted by Sandy Yu on 11.15.2018

employeechannel_-_112F15_customAs an internal communicator or human resources professional, you might think you have mastered all things employee communication. However, our own research found that 30 percent of employees don't feel you properly communicate important company information.

Ouch.

Perhaps it's time to learn a thing or two from your public relations department. After all, by combining external and internal communication efforts, you can improve employee communication and positively impact the bottom line.

To help all internal communicators learn from their external communication counterparts, we turned to the experts:

Use short, jargon-free, media-rich messaging

The strategic connection between internal comms and external comms is a must-have in today’s dynamic environment.

How employees receive information has fundamentally changed. A key pillar of communications -- getting the right message to the right person at the right time -- is more complex and requires greater integration between what is being said internally, our external PR, and what we’re talking about on our social channels.

Here are three things our friends in PR and social do extremely well and we can all learn from:

  1. Use the 'Twitter version.' When you are messaging to external audiences, you need to get to the point fast. Employees want quick soundbites of information. Keep it short and to-the-point, and don’t bury the headline!

  1. Jessica-RoyLose the jargon. We all fall victim to our internal company acronyms. Try to keep these to a minimum.

  1. Think multi-media. Infographics or short videos to reinforce key points are great tools to use because people consume information very differently. Use that to your advantage.

Jessica Roy, VP of Corporate Marketing and Communications at WEX Inc.

Help employees shape their stories -- then get out of the way

Most companies focus on listening to their customers, but what about your employees? How do they feel about working for your company? The truth is, you may very well be disappointed when you find out.

In a 2017 report, Gallup found that 85 percent of employees are either not engaged at work or worse, actively disengaged. That includes managers, professionals, and lower-level employees.

In order to increase word-of-mouth marketing and the effectiveness of public relations, companies must consider the story that their employees tell on their behalf. If internal and external don't match the company may seem inauthentic, which may hurt sales prospects and the long-term brand story.

Employees can be your best advocate or worst critic. It's a double-edge sword. If you ignore them, they write their own story. If you tell them what to say, they may resent it.

Adele-CehrsTherefore, internal and external communicators must shape the types of stories they want employees to tell and then get out of their way. While monitoring your internal stories and narrative is an important part of the job, understand that people don't want to be forced to compliment their employer.

Adele Cehrs, CEO of EPIC and Author of SPIKE Your Brand ROI

Develop brand champions

Making room for positive stories is essential. This can be done via social media campaigns, hashtags or community portals that enable employees to appreciate certain aspects of a company such as perks, benefits, and the company culture.

For example, to ignite brand advocacy externally, eBay set out to amplify their brand internally too with an ingenious exercise designed to remind employees that they are the eBay customer.

The internal exercise, "Share Your Perfect," provided employees with a custom online tool that allowed them to photograph their "perfect," describe it in their own words, and share that vision of perfection on Facebook.

The goal is to create brand champions inside the company.

In essence, millennials want and need a space to vent, share and talk about their employers. Glassdoor and other employer review sites can demand high prices to address negative reviews that can be made anonymously and by former disgruntled workers.

For instance, we had a client with a situation where an employee was terminated and up popped 10 negative reviews that all sounded the same and were created within 45 days of the person's departure.

To fix the reviews and respond, it would cost the client upwards of $10,000. This is why companies need to invest in creating, establishing and maintaining their online company culture.

Adele Cehrs

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Topics: internal communications, employee communications

Human Resources Today