CONNECTIONS

An Edelman perspective on making meaningful employee connections that deepen engagement, build trust and accelerate business performance.

JANUARY 2014

SEVEN NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIO NS FOR INTERNAL COMMUNICATORS
The start of a new year is a great time to make (and hopefully keep) resolutions for improvement, whether personal or professional. While we can’t necessarily help you with a diet or other personal goals, we can offer some professional resolutions to help you make sure your company’s internal communications program is the best it can be in 2014. RESOLUTION 1: WHEN CONSIDERING A SOCIAL MEDIA PROGRAM, FIRST ASK, “TO WHAT END?” We often see communicators who immediately jump to picking a social media platform before they’ve really asked the harder questions about what they want to achieve and what audiences they want to engage. There are seemingly countless platform options available to you and to pick the best one, you first need to know what your objective is in adopting a social media platform. Are you looking to connect virtual employees in an engaging, interactive way? Is it for a discrete purpose, such as providing a resource to collect and build on best practices to support an upcoming product launch, or a more broad-based need? This resolution sounds simple, but is often overlooked. Asking yourself “to what end” will help ensure you go down the right social media path on your first try. RESOLUTION 2: MEASURE IMPACT, NOT ACTIVITY All high-performing communications program (internal or external) should be grounded in research and have measurement incorporated throughout. When building your measurement baseline or assessment activities, make sure you’re not looking only at activity, but also the desired impact that activity’s having. For example, while it’s helpful to know how many people attended a webinar or opened an email, it’s better to know if a webinar or email helped people understand something and take action. And make sure you develop and embed meaningful measurement strategies early in the planning stages so they aren’t overlooked come crunch time. RESOLUTION 3: MAKE A CONCERTED EFFORT TO REACH REMOTE, MANUFACTURING AND SALES EMPLOYEES For far too long, many internal communicators have neglected harder-to-reach segments of employees, including those in manufacturing, on the road in sales roles, or remote/virtual workers. Make 2014 the year you change that. Start by understanding more about these audiences and the existing communications mechanisms and rhythms that already work for them; then take advantage of those existing methods. Also, work at understanding what messages these unique audiences want and need to hear – particularly manufacturing and sales employees who tend to desire a much more straightforward, “what’s in it for me?” approach. RESOLUTION 4: PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR COMPANY’S NET PROMOTER SCORE We’re always surprised when we talk to internal communicators who have never looked at their company’s net promoter scores on jobs sites like glassdoor.com. These sites are a great way to get a snapshot of what employees think of senior leadership performance and if they’d recommend their company as a great place to work. Potential employees also reference these sites for unfiltered information about your company, so it’s important they are encouraged by what they read rather than put off. The effectiveness of internal

communications can play an out-sized role in influencing both of these data points, and communicators should understand what’s being said, why and what they can possibly do to influence it. RESOLUTION 5: FOSTER CLOSER COLLABORATION WITH MEDIA RELATIONS AND INVESTOR RELATIONS COLLEAGUES We have no doubt that 2014 will bring with it the increasing elimination of barriers between internal and external communications, meaning that the need to get information to employees as fast as they can get it from external sources will likely be greater than ever. To ensure that employees hear company news from you first, it’s critical that you know what external releases and activities are planned by media relations and, for publically traded companies, investor relations. Resolve to develop regular coordinating mechanisms with these colleagues, and continue educating them about the importance of employees hearing things first (or, when that’s not feasible, at least at the same time as external audiences). RESOLUTION 6: LOOK FOR WAYS TO MAKE INTERNAL CONTENT GO EXTERNAL We know from the Edelman Trust Barometer that employees are highly credible sources of information about a company and highly trusted. Especially when trying to change external perceptions of your company, look at ways to encourage internal-facing content to go public. Are you creating a video about a team of employees who worked behind the scenes to launch a new product? Put it on YouTube and encourage employees to share it with family and friends. Are you organizing a “family day” or similar employee volunteer activity? Find ways to make it easy for employees to tweet and share fun pictures and results from the day to their own social networks. While companies are sometimes reluctant to share internal content externally for confidentiality reasons, be realistic in your assessment of the damage such content could do if released externally. In many cases, releasing it will actually help burnish external reputation and employer brand. RESOLUTION 7: NO VIDEOS LONGER THAN TWO MINUTES We’ll end with an easy one: Create a rule that videos to employees may not be longer than two minutes. Our experience has shown that employee viewership of even well-made and engaging videos stops after two minutes, so embrace this reality and focus on how you make those two minutes count. If your video topic is too complex for two minutes of well-structured content, this may be a warning sign that you’re not using the right medium to communicate – written or something interactive may instead be the better way to go. Best wishes for 2014! ABOUT US Edelman’s Employee Engagement Practice helps organizations accelerate business performance, delivered by highly engaged and trusted employees. We do this by making meaningful, trust-building connections — connecting employees with the company, connecting employees with each other, and connecting employees with the outside world. We have a global network of employee engagement specialists who can develop engagement strategy; deploy the tools and processes to deliver it; create the multimedia channels and content that support it; and design the insight mechanisms to measure it. For more information, visit us at ee.edelman.com, follow us on Twitter at @EdelmanEE or email us at employee.engagement@edelman.com.

For more information, please contact Edelman Employee Engagement at employee.engagement@edelman.com. For more information, please contact Edelman Engagement at EmployeeEngagement@edelman.com. Employee

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