Last week, individuals from a variety of organisations in both Guernsey and Jersey joined Nichole Culverwell for an internal communications webinar.
This webinar was designed to help business leaders learn more about the impact of internal communications plans, and how to ensure their staff understand the organisation’s purpose and mission at this critical time.
What are internal communications?
Internal comms are not just a monthly staff newsletter or organising the staff Christmas party. They are planned actions, strategically designed to influence the understanding, attitudes and behaviours of staff. Internal communications plans are designed to encourage people to say the right things and do what’s needed to reach the business objectives.
There is a lot of debate as to where internal comms sit within an organisation. They are often assigned to the public relations team because of its role as the organisation’s reputation guardian, and because the team comprises communications professionals.
They can also sit in human resources, although personnel teams typically have a full agenda and may not be skilled in copywriting, message development or social media. However, they are closely aligned to linked functions such as resourcing strategies and performance.
Why do internal communications matter?
A strong corporate reputation starts with staff engagement, and the impact of internal communications will flow outwards to benefit your external reputation.
It shouldn’t take a crisis such as the Covid pandemic to make you think about how you communicate internally, but there is no doubt, right now, that communications are more important than ever.
This was evident in the poll we ran in the webinar, which showed the majority of attendees felt that internal communications are more important now than ever before.
Communication in the time of Covid
The current heightened awareness of internal communications is driven by three main factors:
- Organisations need to keep staff very focused on the organisation’s objectives or they may need them to understand and pivot to new goals
- Organisations may need to implement a change to its staff levels or structure
- Organisations will need to manage their staff working from home in the long term, or are facing a hybrid model of office and home working
Questions your staff might be asking right now:
- How will our office be cleaned?
- What if I work across two teams and one goes back to the office?
- What are we doing about communal kitchens and toilets?
- Does the virus mean we can’t hot desk any more?
- Will I be allowed to take holiday later in the year?
- Will I still get my bonus?
- Is the exec team taking a pay cut?
Other reasons to kick-start a new internal comms campaign:
- Merger and acquisition activity
- Opportunities for new services or pivot towards services which have previously provided lower value
- New product launches
- New ways of doing business or selling your services
- Acceleration of your digital transformation
- Improve your customer experience
- Increase sales in a certain sector
- Improve relationships with suppliers or develop new relationships to strengthen your supply chain
- Launch into a new jurisdiction
Black Vanilla’s strategic internal comms framework
All communications plans should be carefully considered and planned. Internal comms start and end with the organisation’s goals, but should also answer these questions:
- Why? What organisation goals is this campaign supporting?
- Who? Who needs to get on board to help achieve those goals, what do they need to know, think and feel?
- What do you want people to do? And WIIFM?
- When? What’s the timeframe for the campaign?
- How? What are the channels you will be using, what role do they all play? How will you resource the campaign?
- Has it worked? Measurement and reporting
Our planning framework:
- SMART Objectives – SMART objectives allow us to measure and report, making sure we set out key messages.
- Audience & channels – Identify where you should be focusing your efforts for maximum impact, this will be a result of good audience research and campaign planning.
- Your target audience will then allow you to identify the most effective channels for your organisation.
- It is also helpful to consider whether your channels ‘push’ or ‘pull’ information.
- Actions & messages – Key messages are the distillation of everything you want people to take away and remember. In internal communications plans, messages typically prescribe an action which will result in the change and emotional outcome you want to take place.
- Campaign implementation & resources – It is helpful to plan your internal communications journey, remembering that different channels serve different roles throughout different stages of the journey.
For example, a floor walk from the CEO could help to create advocacy, but cannot convey the detailed information that might be required during the ‘appreciation’ stage of the journey. This is better served by a team meeting, a webinar or explanatory film.
It’s important to remember that all plans need to be resourced and people will be at the heart of that resourcing.
There will be some groups of people in your organisation who are particularly important to your internal communications such as HR, CEO, line managers and communications teams.
- Reporting & management – This is when you bring everything back to your SMART objectives and KPIs. It is crucial to understand how to measure the outcomes and impacts of your internal communications, through surveys, views, attendance, sales figures etc.
According to our final poll, the barriers to internal communications are a lack of understanding about the benefits, and of the skills needed for a good internal communications campaign.
How can we help?
Black Vanilla can help improve with your internal communications and benefit your organisation in several ways.
We can deliver an outsourced solution from campaign planning right through to implementation, measurement and reporting.
We can provide an internal communications strategy workshop which guides you through objective setting, audience and channel development, gap analysis and measurement strategy, ending up with your plan on a page that can be implemented internally.
We can plug your skills gap with ad-hoc resourcing such as copywriting, digital activity, films, podcasts and events.
Find out more.
We also work with business leaders on message delivery and media training.
Keep an eye out on our website and social media for upcoming workshops and webinars. If you are looking to improve your organisation’s internal communications, please get in touch.