On the back of our recent results at the Internal Communications and Engagement Awards, our Head of Client Services, Oli, wrote a piece for Communicate Magazine pleading for more creativity in internal communications:
Let’s be honest, in some circles, internal communications is seen as the ugly duckling of the wider communications industry. We’d argue against this, but this is not a completely unfounded opinion – for many years and in many organisations, the discipline has suffered from limited focus and attention, inadequate investment, and seen as a ‘nice to have’. In times gone by, organisations churned out employee communications without spending much time trying to raise the bar, therefore creating communication materials that would definitely not pass legendary (if fictional) Creative Director Don Draper’s measure of success (“Success comes from standing out. Not fitting in.”).
However, we’ve seen a progressive shift in recent years, with internal communications receiving more and more attention. This in turn has meant the sheer volume of such communications has increased exponentially, often creating a saturated environment for employees – something we hear repeatedly from our clients. This saturated environment means that too often internal communication materials get lost in a sea of other messages. So many campaigns flop because they simply fail to be digested, or aren’t even seen by employees.
In today’s busy world of internal communications, cutting through the noise is becoming essential. This is even more important as employees (like the wider public) are becoming more communication savvy, and therefore more likely to engage with and act on campaigns and materials that communicate to them in a smart and creative way.
In addition, in most instances, internal communication campaigns require people to take action: to change their behaviour, to participate in an activity. The best way to get people to take action is to get them to care, and the best way to get people to care is to engage with them on an emotional level. To achieve this level of engagement, creativity is key.
Over the last few years, we’ve worked closely with a global FMCG company that wanted to get its workforce to engage with compliance training – admittedly a dry topic – with the need for employees to renew their training and commitment every year. With research showing that people retain 22 times more information when learning is woven into narratives and anecdotes, rather than just as facts, working closely with the client team, we created a Netflix-style, binge-worthy series to convey the key messages.
Based on real life situations, delivered through films of broadcast quality using trained actors, these were far above the expected standard of corporate training videos. This was underpinned by scenario-based learning, enabling the audience to apply their learning directly to the training. The campaign has been hugely successful and has become the most talked about training within the business. A few months after the run of the campaign 100% of the audience had completed the training. These outstanding results were a great example of creativity being used to stand out and communicate intelligently with the workforce (as well as a trusting client!).
Finally, the way an organisation communicates is an integral part of a company’s culture, and that of its Employee Value Proposition. Creativity can help foster a positive, enjoyable and engaged culture for employees at all levels. And consistently strong internal communications can help maintain, or even improve, your employer brand. Debra Corey, best-selling author of “Built It: The Rebel Playbook for Employee Engagement” and our resident HR expert, is a staunch advocate: “They say you should ‘speak from the heart’, which talks about being authentic in how you speak. When it comes to delivering internal communications, this is absolutely key. If we don’t align our speak with who we are – our EVP, culture and values – we risk confusing and disengaging our people, which is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve. If instead we are intentional with our creativity, our creativity will speak to the hearts and the minds of our people.”
So, I hope you will all join us in championing smart, creative internal communications. Always keep in mind that an employee’s time is a precious resource. Respect that with sharp, effective and intelligent outputs.
Head of Client Services, MGA