Why Communication Professionals Should Put Internal Communications First
By Sean Filidis
As a (corporate) communication professional, your north star goal is getting your brand to positively resonate with the external masses — particularly, those C-level decision makers with the power to produce major business impact.
And so you spend most of your time thinking about press and media relations, marketing strategy, and how best to generate interest regarding your products and services.
That's good. Those things are really important.
But if you're like many others in your field, it's possible that you're spending too little time on internal communication. You might even see it as a "necessary evil" — a distraction that takes time and resources away from your more critical external communications.
In 2018, however, all signs are pointing to the increasing importance of marketing and communications towards your "internal public."
And it may even be the case that internal communication is the key to unlocking greater success regarding your external efforts. [Tweet That].
Here are some ideas about why and how you should shift your focus and put more emphasis on internal communication.
Why Internal Communication Matters
1. Employee Engagement
As baby boomers retire and millennials take their place, internal communication becomes increasingly important.
That’s because every generation from millennials onwards are more demanding regarding the way their employers talk and listen to them. They want (and expect) more collaboration, more transparency, more interaction, and more feedback.
These younger generations also want to know the "why" behind the work they do. They want to know about company plans and goals, and they need to understand the value of their individual contributions.
And unsurprisingly, they rely primarily on feedback and interaction for this.
"73 percent of employees who say they work at a 'purpose-driven' company are engaged, compared to just 23 percent of those who don't," according to Inc.
Why does this matter? Because being able to identify with the purpose of a company leads to greater interest and commitment to one's work.
Strong internal communication motivates employees to work toward a common goal. Including them on the “why” will significantly help companies get them engaged in the “what.” [Tweet That]
2. Keeping Control of the Message
Nobody in a company should learn about important company news from an external source. Neither should they learn of it third-hand after it has filtered down through a game of corporate telephone and been subject to significant reinterpretation.
Communication professionals should ensure that official company information reaches employees promptly and that the message is clear and consistent so that everyone remains on the same page.
If important messages are left to disseminate via word-of-mouth, they become subject to individual interpretation. This tends to fuel the rumor mill and can breed confusion and misunderstandings.
Today's workers also place a high value on transparency. In fact, it's one of the top reported factors in determining job satisfaction.
Providing good internal communication and keeping your employees in the loop helps to foster a better working environment. It keeps rumors at bay and keeps workers happier about their jobs. [Tweet That]
Tip: Have a quick look at how Instant Magazine enables communication professionals to create engaging staff magazines that employees will actually want to read.
3. Be A Better Company To Work For
A convenient side effect of a better working environment is that it lowers your turnover rates (which is particularly relevant for millennials who are known for job hopping), and also makes it easier to attract new talent.
Whether you're trying to retain talent or attract new talent, having a reputation for being an open and transparent company that puts effort into good internal communication can be a significant advantage in a highly competitive landscape.
Tip: Learn how EMO, one of the world’s largest coal transshipment companies, skyrocketed employee engagement using Instant Magazine and regularly achieves 90% open rates on their gorgeous digital staff magazine.
How Your Internal Communication Affects The Public
Coming back to the success of your external communications, we can now see why internal communication is essential.
Happily engaged employees who are loyal and enthusiastic have a tremendous role in the reputation of your company and are one of the best forms of advertisement you can have.
In the age of social, you can count on the fact that each of your employees has a substantial network with whom they can communicate in mere seconds. The cases of disgruntled and disillusioned employees who have harmed a brand via social media are too numerous to count.
But employees can also be ambassadors.
Excellent internal communication leads to happier employees. And according to Staffbase, this can lead to a 40% increase in customer satisfaction, a 30% increase in profitability, and a 36% increase in the overall performance of the company.
Conversely, if employees don’t know what your strategy is for the future or what company goals they're working to achieve, then how can you expect them to contribute to the best of their abilities? [Tweet that]
Every employee should know your brand’s core values and the essence of the messages you wish to convey to the external public. And this can only happen if you have a clear strategy for internal communications.
Getting Better at Internal Communication
Start by making your company goals and objectives public. Understanding what your company is trying to achieve will help employees find meaning in their work. Understanding your company's strategy will help employees know how best to live it. After all, it's difficult to work towards a strategy for which you don't have a full picture.
You should also encourage sharing, feedback, and dialogue as much as possible. As a manager, you should give feedback to your employees, but you should also ask them to provide feedback and give input on the information they receive.
The key to this is fostering a sense of trust in the workplace. Employees should know that their feedback and contributions are valuable — as indeed they are.
It's also important to establish regular processes for monthly, weekly and even daily information gatherings.
For teams, the daily huddle (or stand-up meeting) is one of the most efficient and effective ways to ensure everyone is on the same page and that the team is working towards the same goals. At Instant Magazine, daily huddles are an integral part of our work culture.
Internal communications should not be something that gets tacked onto the end of a communication professional's to-do list. It should be a deliberate, well-planned and well-articulated element of every company's communication strategy.
If you're delivering grandiose messages to the external public while, internally, workers are unengaged, uninformed and unhappy; something is clearly wrong.
Excellent internal communication is the key to a happy and engaged workforce. And it's from the overflow of a healthy internal climate — when your whole organization is striving towards a common goal — that external communication will most succeed.
Are you looking to take your marketing and communications collateral to the next level? Start a free trial with Instant Magazine and create branded content that will dazzle, persuade and convert.
Sean Filidis is a copywriter, blogger, web developer and content marketing specialist. He heads up content strategy at Instant Magazine, making sure the right people see the right messages at just the right time.