Internal comms: A never ending challenge for communications teams to get right. There are lessons a plenty out there and some free learning opportunities…
by Emma Rodgers
I was lucky enough to go to the comms2point0 unawards masterclass held recently in Birmingham.
As well as hearing presentations from five fantastic unawards winners on the reasons why they won with lessons that could be applied back in the day job, there was an afternoon unconference where attendees created their own agenda.
One challenge that was quite rightly discussed and raised throughout the day was the critical importance of getting communications right with employees.
From the brilliant Brent Council unawards winners, the lessons and challenges were clear; match it to your organisational culture, be human, get buy-in at the top, push the boundaries and think about the little things that can and do make the difference.
The challenges and the themes debated across the day seem to be the same things keeping us all awake at night; how to keep good internal communications front and centre when you’re losing resources, remaining creative in your internal communications, keeping up with technology and being able to take advantage of video and other social media tools to improve what you do. The list went on.
There were five take aways I took from the day linked to employee communications…
1. It’s imperative we as communications professionals take time to keep up with the technology trends that are out there. They can and do simplify life for people and it pays to understand when best to use these options for your staff. Let’s not keep internal communications as the Cinderella service and let’s make sure that we deliver as high quality communications for our own employees as we do everyone else.
2. When budgets across the public sector are being stretched, it pays to be collaborative. Others within your organisation will be keen to help. Harness this. One example was given of crowd sourcing ahead what was needed and asking for volunteers – whether it was to help at events for staff, spreading the word, writing something. Internal communications isn’t just for those who have the title.
3. Take time out to remain creative. It’s all too easy to do things in the same way because that’s the way it’s always been done. We should and have to get better at planning creative time into our communications. More often than not it delivers better results and that in itself means we need to ignite and retain creativity in what we do.
4. Better communications to staff doesn’t have to cost the earth. Really brilliant examples were given throughout the day of how to keep employees informed on a budget. From tea bags to biscuits to jelly beans – in fact anything that helps to get messaging across – is worth the minor investment.
5. Don’t ever underestimate the value of informed employees – you do so at your peril. First hand stories illustrated that employees who are advocates for your organisation not only improve performance, productivity and retention but can be your greatest marketing and customer service assets. Get this right and you’ll see and feel the difference straight away.
If you missed the UnAwards Winners Masterclasses don’t worry, there’s a dedicated internal communications LGcommunications seminar coming up that’s covering some of the areas to covered above. It’s being held on 26 April in Stoke-on-Trent and is free for LGcommunications members to attend.
The line- up includes:
LGA launching their new internal communications resource for local government with case studies from Cheshire West and Chester Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Wigan Council.
Darren Caveney, creator of comms2point0 and owner of creative communicators ltd who will be looking at the barriers to good internal communications and how to overcome them
Dom Livens, the Acting Head of Central Communications at the House of Commons talking about internal communications and change at the House of Commons following his first six months in the role.
Alan Oram – Creative Director, Alive with Ideas who will cover creativity in internal communications.
Adrian Stirrup from Brent Council who will be talking about the use of video and social media with employees.
Julie Waddicor – head of communications, Salford University who will be covering behaviour change and evaluation in employee campaigns.
You can book and find out more here
Emma Rodgers is Strategic Manager, Communications at Stoke-on-Trent City Council and vice chair of LGcommunications
image via The Library of Virginia