There isn’t really a formula for effective internal communications. You might try following some best practices, but even the most seasoned communications professional is prone to mistakes which could reverberate across their organization. Holding the attention of your people, even if it’s just to notify them about the company picnic, is more of an art form than a science.
Great internal communications requires a strategic mindset and a willingness to learn from your mistakes—to always be improving. If this describes you, there’s one other thing you’ll need: examples of effective internal communications! Why not learn from the best, right?
Well, you’re in luck. This article offers three internal communications examples for the modern workplace. Use them wisely.
Good storytelling goes far in nearly any organization because, well, everyone loves a good story. Turning internal messages into compelling stories that reflect your company’s values isn’t only effective, it’s easier than you think. A story doesn’t have to be detailed to be an effective way of communicating important information; it can be as simple as an introduction.
For example, here at Jostle we all get a chance early on to tell a story to the rest of the organization in the form of an internal news article. All new employees post an article on our intranet to introduce themselves to the rest of the organization. It’s usually a brief bio with some interesting facts, and some background on how we came to work in our current role. In other words, it’s a story about how we’ve arrived and who we are.
This does a few things. Of course it’s first and foremost an announcement about a new employee. But more importantly, it makes new Jostlers feel comfortable using their intranet to post an internal message (to internally communicate!) right off the bat. Moreover, it gives everyone else a chance to get to know a little bit about their colleague. And, finally, it adds a new voice to our company culture via our intranet.
But anything can be turned into a compelling story. A quarterly newsletter, for instance, is essentially a story about what happened in your organization over the course of the previous quarter. Jazz it up a bit so that it’s more relatable to your audience (your people). Recognize them for their achievements and give credit where credit’s due.
2. Be interesting
Effective internal communications is more than announcing events and news, posting lists of figures, and screenshots of quarterly reports. To hold your people’s attention, your updates need to be interesting. Companies with great internal communications know this and try to incorporate interesting or even fun updates into their internal communications strategy.
Bentley’s Pet Stuff, for example, is one company that knows how to make their internal communications interesting. “We share all processes and procedures, industry related news, updates on our product, fun pet related information, and training on Bark About It, our intranet’s news feed. We also like to post articles that are fun, educational, or of-the-moment regarding promotions, company-wide events, recognition, and weekly news,” said Kate Maney, Human Resources Director.
What Bentley’s manages to accomplish is impressive because they’re able to encapsulate elements of their organizational culture and brand identity in the types of communications they publish. They’re a fun retailer of natural pet food for dogs and cats so their intranet (where internal updates are published) is called Bark About It. They’re curious about what’s going on in their industry, so they post relevant and interesting articles that their people want to read. They value and recognize career milestones, so they notify everyone when someone is promoted. In short, they keep their people interested by publishing what interests them.
Remember: internal communication hits a massive roadblock when people aren’t interested in or can’t find the content you want them to see. Give the people what they want!
Keeping your people interested usually means posting what they want to see or read in a tone that they prefer. If you’re a communications professional at a more traditional law firm (strict dress code, traditional org structure, business above all else), for example, quarterly reports and lists of figures might be fine. But if your company’s a graphic design agency with an open office plan and bean bag chairs scattered about, maybe memes are more your style.
Buckingham Strategic Wealth is a growing organization of advisors, financial specialists, and thought leaders who understand how the tone of internal messaging can impact how their information is received. By adopting a casual, friendly tone in their internal communications they’re able to create internal messaging that’s inherently more approachable and readable. Plus, it fits well with the types of content they publish.
Molly Zerjal, Internal Communications Manager, explains: “We have regularly scheduled articles from leadership, HR, compliance and bene ts teams. These are the ‘must-know’ type posts that drive the most readership. They're consistent, brief and informative. On the more personal front, we have a great series showcasing achievements and milestones. Everything from weddings and births to community successes to test passing is acknowledged and celebrated. We also have informative series with lighter tones like our ‘Bro Tips’ or ‘Cribs’ where various associates get to showcase talents and relay helpful info to the team.”
Tone should almost always be an important consideration when composing an update that goes out to your organization. Here are a few aspects you should think about:
Does you tone match your brand voice?
Is your messaging aligned with your company values?
Does the tone of the message match the seriousness (or lack thereof) of the subject matter?
Doing internal communications well is going to take a whole lot of practice and research. One of the best things you can do as you’re developing your internal communications strategy is to poll your people to see what kind of content they’d be interested in. This is also a good way to suss out the vibe of your organization, and adapt your tone accordingly. Good luck with all your internal communications endeavors!