Tag Archives: Internal Comms

What's at play in internal communications?

A couple of weeks or so ago I set up one of those polls in LinkedIn asking what the single most important aim of internal comms was. The chart of the results so far is thus:

internal_comms_chart1

The discussion continued on LinkedIn, with a lively engagement on what the most importan aspect might be. Now of course, this is all a bit phantasmagorical as in real life there’s no single one most important aspect, but the discussion did draw out some interplays between the different aspects.

I tend to agree with Nicky Fried’s comment that:

If we, as communicators, are able to link each employee to the corporate vision – the rest takes care of itself.

but as we see above most people disagree and think engagement is the most important aspect rather than the vision or strategy. There was also an important contribution from Mark Barwick, who argued that I’d made an error by missing out Productivity as the key aim. For Liam FitzPatrick  however, asking what aim might be most important implied conflict or polarities between ‘productivity/strategy/engagement’.

My view on this is that we’re not talking about polarities and certainly not about conflicts, but different spheres of action and influence. I’d still place strategy as the most important aim and align its relationship with engagement and productivity as so:

internal_comms_triangle

But then, as I pointed out to Mark, the strategy might not be productivity, it could be to say, increase market share. The ultimate end, and the ultimate end of all business, would be Profit. We might therefore, replace Producivity with Profit as the driver. Thus all internal communications becomes a drive to profit.

We therefore end up with a chart such as this:

internal_comms_triangle1

This creates a very instrumental, one might almost say brutalist picture of the enterprise. What’s missing is the ethos of the company – it’s brand and its culture. For me at least, the brand is all about internal communications – we’re articulating the brand to our shared internal audience. So what we need to do is bring this branding aspect into the equation:

culture

Taken together these aspects create the enterprise’s culture. One can then begin to imagine who the communications would change as each of these gains ascendancy over the other. Profit must always have the final say – or the business goes out of business. But if profit becomes the only driver, what then for internal communications?

I think this is where Visteon came unstuck. They created a Culture, complete with a well-defined Corporate Social Responsibility and communicated it well enough so that their employees not only knew about it, they both understood it and bought into it. It was when Visteon itself, driven by the profit motivator, forgot that aspect of its culture, that the workers of Visteon decided to occupy their plants.

Ethics and Integrity Policy, Visteon.

What's the aim of Internal Communications?

Over at LinkedIn I recently created one of their polls to elicit some information about what really drives Internal Communications. The LinkedIn poll widget allows one to solicit 5 possible answers to a question.  So throwing caution to the gales I asked “What’s the single most important aim of corporate Internal Communications?”

  • To inform employees
  • To create a shared vision
  • To increase productivity
  • To engage employees
  • To support the strategy

The results so far are as so:

poll

This I found interesting. I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong answer, but my reply would be “To support the strategy“. Why so? Well I think that ultimately this is what focuses internal comms. We have a strategy and we align our comms to it. Engaging employees is/could be a mean to this end. If we engage them for example in directions that aren’t the strategy then we’ve missed our target. At least that’s what I think, your chance to put me right below 😉

Update:

After writing this blog I added a question to the Melcrum discussion page on LinkedIn. A lively discussion ensued. You’ll need to be a member of the Melcrum group to participate.

Microsoft Surface Launches in EMEA – whither the Intranet?

news out from CeBIT that Microsoft has launched Surface in Europe: Microsoft Surface gets EMEA launch

As a result of a previous posting on Twitter I was sent the video below by @joshblake I’ve also been chatting with Paolo Tosolini –@Tosolini who has been doing some great work with Microsoft on video casting and using Microsoft Surface as a comms tool – (please see previous post).

Moving on from yesterday where I conjectured about the intranet browser of the future, the video below maybe shows why technology may just yet leap frog over any such solution. When I watch Microsoft Surface in action I keep thinking, what will this do for internal comms and the intranet of the future?

12 tips for a successful internal comms video channel

trivet-oskayIn a previous role I was lucky enough to manage an Internal Comms video channel aimed at our field sales force. The channel’s aim was to deliver short video messages that were business-aligned, relevant, timely and targeted. Topics covered in these videocasts included sales updates, product launches, new marketing initiatives and company meetings.

I’d like to share our best practice findings with you. These are all based on practical first-hand experience and I believe, are relevant for any IC video channel, either as push, pull, streamed, video podcast or download. If you have any other tips or correction/qualifiers here, please let me know – I’ve jotted these down as pointers and I’m more than sure that there’s a lot I’ve missed out here! Enjoy…

12 Tips for Internal Comms Video

  1. Before you do anything, decide on the aims and objectives. Ask how the video channel will support your overall comms strategy and as a result the overall business strategy.
  2. Back up the aims and objectives with strong and agreed governance. Get senior buy-in to support it and make sure your stakeholders agree with it. Publish the governance.
    This will ensure the channel maintains focus and does not get used for off-piste aims such as self-promotional egocasts, superficial ends or irrelevant content.
    And remember – the more successful, the more you will need that governance!
  3. Content is king. An informative, entertaining and interesting video from someone with a web cam, will always beat boring studio-quality crap sub-optimum content. Even though content matters most, that’s still no excuse for not doing your best. Produce to the highest quality you can, with the time and money available. Always avoid basic Nobo mistakes such as presenters in patterned shirts and ties, clutter in the background, noisy interference or filming in front of a window.
  4. Don’t use video for the sake of it. Always ask ‘why use video?‘ and whether your aim will be be met with other formats. This can save time, money and ensure that the video channel maintains quality plus it keeps to the stated aims.
  5. Make all content relevant. No one will click on a video and watch it unless there’s something important in it that they will gain from. It doesn’t matter how well it’s filmed, scripted or delivered, if it hasn’t got relevant content it won’t get watched. Always put your audience needs first.
  6. The close cousin of relevancy is the target audience. When you tell people the video is available, use targeted messaging or pull technology such as RSS. Don’t spam. Even if you think the content is great and relevant to everyone they might not agree. The more that you spam them, the more likely they are to avoid your video in future. I’ll say it again, always put your audience needs first.
  7. It may be fahionable to be late but your audience wants punctuality. Decide on the frequency and make sure content is up to date. Don’t send out too many videos – your audience are at work and haven’t got the time. Decide on a max frequency for sending videos out and stick to it. If you must have lots of videos, consider storing them in a YouTube type site and send out a regular compendium update.
    Don’t be late – if it’s time-sensitive info and going to take 3 weeks to make and send the video out, the chances are that it’s going to be out of date by the time your audience see it. Bearing in mind that you might just might miss a deadline, avoid the presenter mentioning dates whenever you can and never ever have them saying ‘next Tuesday’. The chances are it will be watched by X% on the Wednesday after.
  8. Make it short. All the evidence says that online attention span is short, especially for video.If people get bored they will switch off. We found that 3 minutes was best with 4 minutes the max for sales-update video messages. If you’ve a longer event say a video of a company meeting, break it up into bite-sized chunks.
    nb This does not apply to training videos for Systems Engineers who will happily watch one of their colleagues talking about something technical for an hour or more.
  9. Script it/structure it. Even if the video is informal and very short, have a script if at all possible. A speaker may be very good delivering live ad hoc talks, but that isn’t necessarily going to work on an online video. Also, some presenters are more interested in themselves than either the content or their audience. Scripts will keep both the presenter and your video relevant and focused on your stated aims and objectives.
  10. Make it easy – make it linky. If you’ve done a good job and sent a timely, interesting and relevant message to your audience, they will want more. They will either want to learn more, or to do something with the info you’ve given them. Add tangible pointers to next steps – links to sites, documents and to you. Always provide easy feedback links!
  11. Measure it. See how many people watched the video. Ask people what they thought of the channel overall and for each video message. Ask them via feedback rating stars, online polls or simply by asking them. Look at what works and what doesn’t. Look at what your audience decides to watch rather than what you send them.
    Compare all data with the overall aims. Don’t do this once, but look at what’s been achieved on a regular basis.
  12. Use your data and audience feedback to experiment and improve the channel. Keep it fresh and don’t rest on your laurels. Try new approaches and ways of delivering it. But whatever you do, always make sure the camera is on and is recording. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen and senior vice presidents do not think it’s funny!

Social Media is not Internal Communications

Over at ‘Community and Social Media’, Chris Brogan has brewed up a rich discussion over social media in the enterprise: Aligning Social Media Within Companies. Mr Brogan’s obvious clout within the sphere of social media is there for a reason. He draws in info from all ranges of sources and this recent post exemplifies what this means in practice, in spades.

His posts have relevancy and impact across the different spheres of communications and here for me, what the post underscores, is that social media is not internal comms. This is drawn out by asking:

What if project managers decide to use Flip cameras to capture their weekly status meetings, and then podcast the results to the other offices? Not really marketing, eh?

Nope, it’s internal comms, or at least that’s we called it when we cast video to offices globally. But then this was in a marketing department. The soup kettle gets upset when we bring in HR to the equation. Take Facebook for example, Chris does and says: 

I think most organizations keep these kinds of efforts tied to marketing, but is that where it belongs? What’s Human Resources relationship to Facebook and what should it be?

Good question, there’s soup everywhere now. That soup is social media – it’s not comms, it’s not marketing, it’s not IT and it’s not HR. We’re looking at collaboration as much as communication. We’re looking at feedback and feedout as internal comms crosses the firewall. 

But what is it? It’s something new that’s what it is, and it’s us. It’s communications Jim, it’s collaboration Jim, but not as we know it. The big question then – where will social media ‘live’ in the enterprise? Communications and PR, Marketing, HR, IT? That question has long been asked about internal comms; social media accelerates the debate. Enterprises are already roling out social media, some like Ford are ahead of the game. They’re all going to have to address this question of location very very soon if they want to embrace the advantages of social media within the firewall.

Which side of the firewall is hotter?

For something like 15 years much of my online activity and certainly most of my work has taken place inside the firewall. Of late however, I’ve ventured forth and am eagerly talking with those within and beyond the 2.0 pale. There’s a lot of excitement, there’s a lot of chatter and there’s a lot of Twitter.

In this space, some participants get very excited, especially over the new arrivals – it must be like having a favourite secluded holiday spot that suddenly gets found out by everyone, a sort of fear of The Beach 2.0. I think they think the nouveau arrives are tourists whereas they are intrepid explorers of 2.0. Either way there’s a vast amount of activity taking place and I’m sure someone is already working out the carbon emission comparison between sending a Twitter message (a ‘tweet’) and making a cup of tea. Point to note though is that all this is happening externally, it’s in the public sphere.

My prime focus is internal communications and intranets, so what I’m interested in is who does what in the organisation and how to ensure that both mission critical sales messages and information about the strategic business direction gets through to the right people at the right time. Despite the best efforts of some very clever people, it’s an area that’s notoriously difficult to measure. That said, what we’re interested in monitoring is impact on the business – time saved, better productivity, increased innovation, synergy through teamwork, enhanced collaboration and business transformation. The ultimate measure therefore is the bottom line – are we making the business more profitable?

This question started to get me thinking about what goes on outside the firewall and the merry mayhem that is social media today. I’m seeing a lot of messages and discussion about search engines, blogging, video and even music (see the excellent Blip.fm). But I ask myself, but, what does this achieve?

Is, and I know how heretical this may sound, is social media outside the firewall truly productive? I guess I can guess some of the answers in terms of wisdom of clouds, tapping into the mindset of consumers and turning that into lucrative products, niche marketing in the long long tail. But, does any of this actually generate wealth? In the firewall we create things and sell them, that’s the business model. Most of what goes on there is invisible. We want at least some privacy, and often we want a lot, confidentiality is important to any business – few, if none can be 100% transparent.

What this means is that we don’t see enough of what’s happening in the most important area of social media – that that’s happening in the firewall. What we do see, is all the white hot discussion about social media in the public sphere. That looks hip cool and funky trendy. But is it really hot?

My contention is that it’s what happens inside the firewall that’s really hottest. It’s for this reason that I’ve started to compile my list of Social Media Case Studies. I think I might call it the ‘Hot List’, as this is where 2.0 is really happening, not ultimately in blogs like this.

True or not? Be very interested in hearing what people think about this…

Why Forbes says e-mail is so last century

Web 2.0 has arrived and your company needs it, now. Who says so? Forbes’ Mike Schaffner does ‘Why Companies Need Web 2.0’. For Schaffner we’re in a web 2.0 world now that extends from his daughter’s vacation in Paris through to the next wave of new employees. 

Schaffner lists out the whole sweet shop – RSS, Wiki, Blog, YouTube, FriendFeed, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. E-mail he says is so last decade, it’s an old hat. Thus use Twitter instread says Schaffner, who can can see collaborative communications research done in a tweet:

Imagine someone putting out a Twitter message (a “tweet”) that says, “I’m updating the marketing plan, does anyone have any info on X?” rather than sending out an e-mail that gets lost in everyone’s inbox. The tweet may have a wider reach and generate a better response. 

And it’s not just convenience or the need to attract the best talent that’s at stake. It’s time to move forward or perish:

Like it or not, our employees and customers–not to mention our competitors–are using these technologies now and will soon be expecting you to provide them, too. Don’t do it and you may find yourself at a competitive disadvantage. What are you doing about using these technologies inside your company?

The eagle 2.0, has landed, well ok it’s still landing (07.07.08). But as soon as this is posted I’ll communicate it via Twitter and FriendFeed…as one does.

The Tao of 2.0 – The Way of the Web

lao-tzu

Go forth and prosper

If one wants to roll out even the most modest of web 2.0 internal comms initiative in the enterprise it can be very daunting. For every good idea there seems to be dozen doubters, for every champion a league of naysayers. In such circumstances it’s too easy to give up and stick to the traditional old ways – no one will be upset that way and you can always slowly advance your career in the tried and the trusted.

In our hearts many of us know this is a loss- a loss of opportunity and of a panorama of never to be seen horizons.

As with all potential great journeys, discovery and advance are only made by venturing from the straight and 1.0. How to move forward then when any approach seems beset by paths of treacle?

Nothing is softer than water

What I’d like to suggest is that the Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu might have some interesting advice for us here, so I’ve compiled some of his inspirational quotes to guide us here. With this in mind, I’d like to look at how Lao Tzu can help us with deploying internal communications 2.0. Let’s start by considering of his observations about the unstoppable nature of water:

Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.

simplicity, patience, compassion

Social Media is like water. It’s not hard, it’s not machines, yet no matter what we do, or others do to stop it happening, it will find a way into the enterprise. No firewall is hot enough to evaporate it, no working practice to severe enough to prevent it. Remember all of this as the tide is on your side.

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.

Begin the journey

Keep your first 2.0 projects simple and above all have patience. Chances are it won’t happen immediately and don’t get fed up with people not accepting or using the tools. 2.0 like anything else will be used by people because it benefits them. If it goes wrong don’t blame them, look with compassion at why an application wasn’t used.

A tree that can fill the span of a man’s arms grows from a downy tip; A terrace nine stories high rises from hodfuls of earth; A journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath one’s feet.

Lead from behind

Start off modest – maybe some blogging software installed or a forum. While there’s a lot to be said for a joined up approach, far better to gain experience now, rather than waiting months for a large-scale complex solution. So start now, make those first baby steps.

To lead people walk behind them.

What is good

Look at what your audience do now, what benefits them, where they go to find information. Think how you can help them. Learn from what you audience wants and where they go. Lead and be lead at the same time.

Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful. Good words are not persuasive; persuasive words are not good.

Tell no fibs

Be honest with your audience, don’t try and blind them with science or gobbledygook, no matter how well intentioned. Keep it simple and honest – they will see through duplicity eventually. So no BS, ever!

Without stirring abroad, One can know the whole world…

Where are you going?

Allow your audience to create their world by pulling in the information they want. Make sure that they can easily find and access the information they need. Use RSS webfeeds so they can get the information without having to surf the entire intranet. Make sure search in the enterprise is tip-top and can find social media info. (But also check it’s not swamping all other search…)

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

The reality check

Set objectives and have measurable aims. Review these regularly – look at your metrics and milestones. Be flexible and don’t be afraid of changing direction!

Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

How to make crooks

Accept and expect the unexpected and learn from where 2.0 takes us and evolves. Don’t try and force an outcome, even if your audience will let you, it won’t work. If media gets used in ways that you didn’t expect then learn from that rather than trying to stop it.

The more laws that are written, the more criminals are produced.

Of that which we cannot speak

Don’t over govern or over legislate web 2.0 in the enterprise. There will always be those who distrust your audience and fear what might get said in a blog or discussion. Trust them, we can all make career limiting moves by sending out an e-mail, social media is no different. So by all means create guidelines and best practice but try and avoid a big list of Don’ts.

He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know.

Fishing on the net

Social media can often draw out the shy and bashful who have a lot to say and lots to share. Conversely, it can highlight the real value (or not) of the louder contributors too – empty vessels make the most noise etc. Make sure that you media allows the shy to be heard – you may find that they have the most value to add. Any lecturer will tell you this – the best essays can come in from the quietest student.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Wicked leaders

An old favourite but still true. Provide training and help – many will learn the technology rapidly – that’s what 2.0 is all about, but make it as easy as you can and provide support, aids and training materials. Think of ways that your audience can teach others to fish – forums for newbies supported by the early adopters.

The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’

Our job as 2.0 internal comms leaders is all about enabling our audience. Enabling them to find the information they want at the right time and place (or that information finding them), it’s about conversation, collaboration and sharing. And above all 2.0 is all about the ‘we’us doing it for ourselves….

Customer Engagement : Employee Engagement

Some fab data in from eMarketer/Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) over at Mashable on Social Media Marketing and the benefits thereof. Customer engagement and customer comms comes tops. Be really useful to see how this compares within the firewall, especially with employee engagement and internal comms.

Twitority, Twitter Internal Communications

Just did a quick check on the Twitority of the term ‘Internal Communications’ on Twitter. Of dubious merit methinks- firstly, for a quirk of data, I actually get a mention because of my Top 10 Internal Communications people to follow on Twitter; but hardly any of that list who should be there, actually make it directly into the Twitority posting. But, saving grace, @csaba81 does get mentioned in dispatches and he certainly has genuine authority not to mention generosity, in the sphere of internal comms and Twitter.

I know this was knocked together quickly in reponse to a post from Loic, but hey ho, it still produced some questionable results:

twitority

For more seasoned analysis of Twitority and Authority see: