When it comes to media for internal communication, most people think of an email that is being sent to all employees, a message on the intranet or a short note on the blackboard. But how come there are so many more (and more efficient) communication media in marketing? These media can also be used for internal communication! And there's more: They could actually make internal communication more efficient, too. But what media are we talking about? And how can you use them in internal communication?
There's nothing new about the fact that there's still a lot left for internal communicators to learn from marketers. We've been saying so for years, and we're so convinced of it, we even made a podcast series about it. The use of media is no exception to this: Where marketing departments use all kinds of creative media, from illustrations or photos to animation or even interactive media such as a quiz, internal communication lacks behind. There might be an occasional photo in one of those internal emails or on the intranet, but that's about it. And that's crazy! After all, marketing doesn't only use these media because it's more fun to do. There is a good reason they employ different kinds of media: Based on what their audiences prefer, they choose the right communication media to gain and keep their attention to get their message across. Which is basically the same goal we have in internal communication.
Gaining the attention of the target audience with the right media
Let's give you an example: One thing that often goes wrong when it comes to internal communication is that the media being used don't catch the eye of the target audience. Think about it this way: An email sent to all employees hardly stands out, especially not for those of us who receive hundreds of emails every single day. It's just another email that probably won't be treated as a priority in the overload of information we receive. Sure, it might contain a lot of valuable information for the target audience. But when they don't see that at first sight, why would they start reading that long text in the first place?
There are quite some possibilities to solve this problem. And no, we are not talking about marking your email as important and adding a subject line that makes clear everybody needs to read it. We are talking about making the media you use in your internal communication more attractive for your employees, for example visually. We've seen it happening in external communication for years: Marketers use visuals often, from illustrations or photos to animations and videos. It catches the eye and therefore helps them to gain the attention of their audience. And that's not the only thing: As the human brain is wired to progress visual information better than text, it also helps them to communicate more information in less time. In a world of people with very short attention spans, that's crucial. It didn't happen from one day to the next: Marketers got used to the situation and adapted the media they use on their communication channels accordingly.
Why You Should Use Visual Storytelling in (Internal) Communication
Of course the situation is slightly different when it comes to internal communication. After all, in most cases you don't have to compete with the visual circus of social media, streaming platforms, online shops and TV to catch the attention of your employees. There might be some photos on the intranet or visuals in their emails, but that's mostly about it. And that's exactly why visuals help you to stand out even more in internal communication: It stands out straight away. With all the information hidden in long texts, emails and maybe phone calls, employees will notice well-composed media in internal communication directly and your chances of getting your message across increase instantly. Obviously, visuals are only one of many ways to go. But with all these options available, how do you know which media suit the purpose of your internal communication strategy best?
How to know which media are suited for your internal communication campaign
As mentioned, visuals are just one option to enhance your internal communication strategy, and we'll get back to the different options in a minute. With all these options (and even more if you take the time to brainstorm and get inspired by the world of external marketing), it can be quite challenging to make the right choices. How could you possibly know which media to use to reach your target audience and get your message across? Or in other words: How could you possibly know which media will make your internal communication campaign as efficient as possible?
We totally understand that you tend to choose the media you like best yourself. It's tempting, especially if you already have a picture in mind of how you'd like to communicate your topic. But wait a minute! If you want to make sure that the media you go with actually support the goal of your internal communication plan, it's crucial to analyse the situation, the needs of the target audience and the topic before making this choice. Get to know your target audience and you'll see there might be segments with different information needs, knowledge levels and preferences when it comes to the media you can choose from. Based on your analysis, the goal of your campaign and the message you want to send out, you can put together the perfect media mix. Just as in external communication!
Examples of media for internal communication
This sounds easy enough, doesn't it? But after years of using emails and messages on the intranet only, it might still be quite challenging to take the step and employ creative media in your internal communication campaign. That's why we've put together some examples below. Obviously, these are just a few examples and there are way more possibilities, but it's to give you an idea.
We mentioned it earlier: Visuals help to communicate a lot of information in way less time than when using text. Simply because that's how our brains are wired. And that's exactly what makes an animation the perfect communication media in any phase of your internal communication campaign: You can use one to show your target audience why the topic you're communicating is relevant to them, what you are expecting from them or how a certain project is going to be rolled out. Even better: You can use characters that encounter recognisable situations when presenting solutions to a problem your target audience has, for example. Recognisability helps your employees to identify with your company, which is good for their motivation on the long term, too. Sounds pretty perfect, doesn't it? However, an animation is not always the best media to use: Sometimes, your target audience might prefer information in written. But that's something you'll find out during that analysis you'll do before determining which media to use.
An infographic is ideal to present a lot of information or step-by-step instructions in a visually attractive way. It's perfect to substitute those endless lists of bullet points in emails and still get all the information across. And you know what's even better? You can use an infographic digitally, of course, but you could also print it and make a poster out of it, for example. And that's especially good in the last phase of any internal communication campaign, when you want to remind your target audience of the topic. Or in case you have employees who don't work behind their desks aall day and are therefore less easy to reach digitally.
Sometimes, you'd want to make your internal communication more interactive. Think of situations where you want to make sure your employees don't only read all the information you are sending them, but need to be able to use it in their daily business afterwards. An e-learning isn't only a great way to let them click through the information at their own time and speed (which is great for everybody with busy agendas), it's also a great way to make sure your employees understood the information and know how to use them going forward. By adding a quiz at the end and monitoring the results, for example, you can easily see how well your internal communication campaign is working (and send out more information or reminders, if necessary).
Want to know more about how to use e-learnings in your internal communication strategy? Download the whitepaper!
Another thing you might want to throw into the media mix is a landingpage. This can be on Sharepoint or whatever internal communication solution you already use, but it could also be a completely new page. Why? Because it can function as the ideal central hub to store all the information you want to communicate in one place. It's perfect when communicating via a variety of stakeholders who need to pass on the information to their teams, for example. Or if you want people to access the information in their own time, whenever they have a gap in their busy agendas. Even better: You can link an analytical tool, such as Google Analytics, to that landing page and measure exactly how many people visit it, how long they stay there (and if it's long enough to actually read through the information), download the media stored on there and more. It makes your internal communication campaign measurable, which helps you to evaluate its efficiency.
We talked about this, visual media are not the only thing you can use in internal communication. Have you ever wondered why there are so many podcast available and why, every single day, new shows are being added? Podcasts are an easy way of consuming information on a certain topic while doing something else, like driving to work, for example. Interviews are interesting and engaging, and listeners get new insights from it. So why not use it in your internal communication? An internal podcast also gives you the opportunity to make your employees part of the show: For example by interviewing people from different departments about their point of view on a certain topic. By making them part of it, it will increase the engagement of the employees. Definitely efficient!
Wait a second, didn't we say earlier you shouldn't send out emails? Well, yes, but no. It's not like you can't send out emails at all, it's just that you need to carefully analyse the needs of your target audience and make sure the media (in this case the email) fits their needs. And sometimes, the answer is that an email is actually the best way to reach them. However, that still doesn't mean you need to go back to sending long textst in one email. It rather means that you use an email campaign as part of the deal, sending out the information your target group needs at the right time. By using the tools your marketing department uses, you can even get more insights in who opens your emails and who doesn't, if people clicked through to whatever you linked in the email and if not, you could send out automated reminders. By making use of all these possibilities, an email campaign can be just as efficient as any other internal communication media.
As mentioned, these are only a few example of media you could use for internal communication means. And we could go on for quite some time, listing more and more options, but we guess you got the point by now: If you want to make your internal communication campaigns more efficient, think like your target audience and make sure to use the communication media that suits their needs and situation. By doing so, you enhance not only the chances to gain their attention, but also to keep it and get your message across to meet your goals.
Do you need help finding the communication media that go with your topic and your campaign? Get in touch! Our consultants are looking forward to go through your case together and come up with the ideal internal communication plan to get your message across!
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