- Management & Leadership |
- 13 August 2017
Synchronise the message: The importance of internal communication
Employees can make or break an organisation. Internal communications need to be more than just an afterthought; engaged employees will accelerate your brand more effectively than a viral marketing campaign.
Like the saying ‘you are what you eat’, what goes on inside your company is reflected in its outward presentation. Poorly thought-out, ad hoc internal communications result in employees who feel like their organisation hasn’t got a clear message or vision. And this will permeate through when they are talking to clients, colleagues and potential leads.
For this reason, it is essential to ensure that what you are saying internally – and how you say it– reflect how you want to be perceived by the outside world. This is so much more than applying the ‘integrated marketing communications’ (IMC) model.
To truly meet the standards you want to portray, communication needs to be synchronised across internal and external channels. Both of these channels are equally important and are not mutually exclusive.
When you examine where your clients come from, it's often a referral from your in-house talent such as a partner of the firm. So, to keep it simple, your marketing efforts need to reach the people who sell your services.
If they believe in your brand, and what you are selling, they will become your biggest brand ambassadors. They will automatically speak the language set you have created for external campaigns. This, of course, is not a new concept, but it takes commitment and effort to get it right.
Simple measures to synchronise internal communications
The overall goal is to make employees feel valued, important and a part of an exclusive club. This is where you want to get to, and it is achievable. Your professionalism needs to be applied across all touchpoints. An easy test when it comes to emails sent by the managers or leaders of the firm is the ‘back page’ review – would you be happy to see it printed on the back page of a newspaper?
It is important that the person in charge uses the benefit of having a captive audience to reinforce the values of the organisation. Set the pace and give your employees the same level of service you expect them to give to clients.
If you wouldn’t send it out into the world because it is too informal, lacks context and also formatting (as it has been written on your phone), then hold off on the send button. It is important that the person in charge uses the benefit of having a captive audience to reinforce the values of the organisation. Set the pace and give your employees the same level of service you expect them to give to clients.
Review the intranet
The operations departments need to work together: HR, IT, finance and marketing should work hand in hand to establish the best way to promote staff benefits and vital information in a professional, accessible and synchronised way.
The introduction pages on the intranet should be written or at least edited by marketing with a view of using the same language used on external campaigns. Often internal comms are left up to HR, and HR may not have the skill of writing marketing communications. You need to sell yourself internally. If you are promoting yourself as a market-leading organisation that ‘thinks clearer’, then use this language internally.
Review your policies and procedures sitting on the intranet. Ensure the language is accurate, current and reflects the right message. If you can’t communicate serious HR matters such as leave provisions to your employees in a relevant, logical and professional way, then employees will start to question the quality of advice given to clients.
Be consistent with your colour scheme & imagery
The external colour schemes are to be used internally, in a slightly different way. You want to be instantly recognisable. Using colour and imagery to create a separate ‘management’ style can create a sense of priority for communications sent from senior leaders. This is important in organisations that suffer from email overflow. It is also particularly effective if there is a new senior position announced.
One Australian organisation that has achieved a synchronised branding approach is the Macquarie Group. Macquarie’s ‘Holey Dollar’ is instantly recognisable. It's a formidable calling card to the market place. This particular brand element, along with the signature black, is generously used throughout the Macquarie offices and appears on all formal internal communications.
On its website, the company says: “The holey dollar remains a relevant symbol of financial innovation and, within the Macquarie business, inspires out best efforts to deliver new ideas and products for our clients.” The result of Macquarie’s consistent and considered synchronised branding is employees who live, breathe and believe in the institution.
How to run an internal marketing campaign
Organisations should run strategically aligned marketing campaigns internally. The goal of the internal marketing campaign is to develop the connection and relationship between employees and the company. Inform employees about your values and strategic goals, so they can apply that knowledge to how they operate within the business. They should be making everyday decisions based on how best to reflect the company values and strategy.
As with an external campaign, you need to consider the audience. Do some research on how best to engage with them. It is also important to include the key leaders of the business, not just the top executives; sometimes the mailroom staff are influential for staff morale, and the best propagators of information. After all, they have access to all levels of the building.
The campaign should mirror the external look and messaging, but the tone should be slightly more personal and considered. The aim is to do more than repeat the latest campaign; you want to inform the reasons behind it as well.
Ultimately, the most successful synchronised campaigns are when the external uses internal as a selling point. Highlight your employees in your external marketing, and you will instantly engage those on the inside.
It is easy to overlook the importance of internal communication, especially when businesses have so many external channels to concentrate on. But if you don’t have an engaged internal audience, the company will not perform at an optimal level.
Synchronise the message, and half of the external promotion is done. Engaged employees who are on-brand, are happy employees; they will tell the world how proud they are to work for the company. And this will be reflected in the bottom line.