We’re all communicators now…yep, even Larry in Operations.

We all know it’s happening and rather than embracing it, corporate communicators often find ourselves hiding terrified under our desks when we see employees commenting on social media talking about the company. Whether you like it or not, companies have communicators everywhere and all it takes nowadays is a smartphone and something to share. Don’t fight it; embrace it. Arm employees with great content and share the responsibility to release your successes and stories to the world. It’s not an easy thing to do but smart communicators are working to take advantage of this opportunity versus the alternative.  Parameters are necessary and communicating those to your employees (with a little help from the legal department) is key.  Once you give them those guidelines, empower your employees to disseminate information in a smart way…and maybe your CEO can sleep a little easier at night.

Dashboards aren’t just for PR and marketing.

Dig out that calculator…it’s time to start measuring our communications efforts for internal initiatives. We’re measuring internal communications now? Why? Two big reasons:

  1. Executives want it. Leadership likes numbers. They’re what they base decisions on. If you’re the one team reporting up that cannot provide measurement, you’ll eventually find that you aren’t at the top of the list when budget and employee headcount increases happen. Results bring opportunities.
  2. Unclear what employees are reading and responding to? Creating that dashboard or measurement tool will give you and your teams immediate feedback on what’s working, what’s not and how to plan your approach moving forward.

But what do you measure in a function area that might lack numbers?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Distribution numbers of digital, print and other communications
  • Read rates or click-throughs to stories (are numbers going up? down? why?)
  • Editorial highlights: Bucket the stories and share what’s getting readership and engagement (business stories, competitive updates, human interest?)
  • Response rates to open-ended items or surveys
  • Video views (comments, shares, likes, depending on tracking abilities)
  • Attendance at events, town hall sessions and webinars
  • Mobile and/or digital app user and read rates
  • Collaborations with other teams (e.g., “Four new meetings with Human Resources resulting in strategic communications planning for 3 new joint projects”)
  • Just about anything else you can measure or show change from month-to-month/quarter-to-quarter
  • If you can’t prove it, don’t measure it!

If you have a problem getting face time or promoting your communications efforts with executives, let your dashboard tell your story.

You have great power. More than you think.

With increased attention shifting to internal communications, executives are counting on the team (or person) who is communicating to a captive and hardworking internal workforce. It’s not uncommon for executives to turn to internal communicators as advisors when creating strategic messaging and making decisions on key company-wide initiatives. They realize that communicators have a strong pulse on sentiment and tone of the company. This opportunity is giving communicators the chance to not only share, but influence, shape and reinforce the culture and employee brand.

According to Mark Buchanan, of the Cisco Global Brand Team, executives are relying increasingly on internal communicators in creating a “Journey Map.” Leadership sees the current state of the company and can share what the corporate culture in their “utopia” looks like. Where you come in is to help them connect the dots to get them from point A to point B.  It’s giving communicators more power—and responsibility—than ever before.

Shift your focus.

We write about executives. A lot. Nigel Williams of Interact gave the example that there are countless companies whose CEOs write blogs about their experiences and travels. However, he’s never seen more success in readership than from an executive who travels for trainings and does a selfie with every group he visits. He shoots selfies and shares one engaging or inspiring fact about that group or his experience with them.

He receives 66 percent more engagement and readership on these than an average executive blog, and it’s all because of the approach. He’s made the employees the focus, not him. People love to read about themselves and their colleagues.  Sure, we need to share business wins, but why not from the employees’ perspective? Why not highlight the team that led to that success?

By shifting the focus from the executives to the employees, not only can you see readership grow but content ideas and new connections in the business start to flow as a result.

Be bold. Not boring.

At the end of the day, internal communicators will write articles and share business updates to fulfill content goals, but if no one is reading them, does it matter?  Not a bit.

Keep it simple. Keep it fun. Mark Buchanan urged, “Write like a human being. We’re just people building relationships with other people.”

Katrina Blauvelt, the senior director of associate communications at The Home Depot, told conference attendees that one of the most popular pieces of content they share out to the business is shared in a printed newsletter that goes to each employee’s home (by the way, that’s roughly 50,000 employees).  Last month, that newsletter included photos of employees’ backyard tree houses. You’d assume that employees at The Home Depot would have amazing gardens, houses and backyards, right? Yep. You’re right.

By allowing people to share what they are proud of creating, what brings them joy and what may inspire others…they have huge success and engagement.  They don’t overthink it. They just do what makes sense, given the company, the culture and the people they speak to every day.