Internal communicators face the ever-present challenge of attracting and keeping the attention of employees. Even when they can make time in their busy schedules, audiences can often lose interest when it comes to digesting corporate messages. If your survey, email open rate, or intranet click-through analyses are telling you that your employees aren’t loving what you’re posting, it might be time to take a step back and ask some pointed questions about your communications.
Are You Providing Regular Content?
Remember that your employees are living in a world where they’re constantly bombarded by news and social media posts. They expect new content every time they refresh their webpage. In order to fit into their modern paradigm, it’s important that you feed them internal and external news and updates about your organization.
Some communication departments post new stories on their intranets a few times a week. If you can, it’s probably better to give them at least one new story every day. If you’re wanting for content, take a look at your process for gathering stories. Do you need to assign “beats”? Do you need more regular meetings with department leaders? Can you tap your HR area for names of employees who are recognized or receive awards? There are many ways to gather information if you put in the extra effort.
Is Your Content Balanced?
You might think you’re meeting the employees needs if you post organizational updates, sales figures, and other official corporate information, but employees also need more human interest content to make them feel good about your organization. In one of the internal communication departments I worked, we regularly analyzed the intranet stories. The stories that got the most clicks and comments were the ones about employees who were recognized for their years of service.
While the news from executive leadership is important for engagement, be sure that you provide regular stories that play on the emotions of your employees and the sense of pride of being part of your organization. There can be a sense of resentment generated from an overflow of official corporate news and messaging, so mix it up. People love to feel appreciated, so take every opportunity to publicly appreciate them.
Are Your Communications Too Long?
I’ve said it many times: People don’t like to read. If they open an email or click on an intranet article and ten paragraphs are staring them in the face, they might decide it’s not worth the effort. Now, I know there are those articles and emails we send “from” executives who want every possible detail included, and there’s not much you can do about it. But be vigilant about opportunities in which you can tailor your communications to be more concise and digestible. Employees will appreciate the respect for time in their busy schedules.
Are You Making Your Writing Readable?
I wrote about making your writing more reader-friendly in a previous post, so check that out for more detail. The basic gist is to make the organization and structure of your communication easy to navigate with subheadlines, shorter words, better line breaks, avoiding passive voice, etc. If your readers are checking out after the first paragraph because the rest of the communication looks like a marathon, help them find the content that really matters to them and making it a faster read.
Are You Including Images?
It might sound like you’re treating your audience like children, but pictures are pretty! The best way to make your communication seem more readable is to include images. It breaks up the copy and makes it seem less daunting for the reader. Whether it’s an employee/group photo, image quote, of infographic, find an image the complements your text and makes the communication more visually appealing to your audience.
Do You Need More Video?
Getting back to the pictures being pretty thing… There’s no denying that video attracts attention. Think of the last time you looked at your Facebook feed. I bet almost half of it was video content. It’s what marketers are doing to get the competitive edge and hook their customers on social media. Internal communicators, likewise, need to adopt a marketing mindset and use the tools to which today’s audiences respond. While you might love to write and feel that your prose is really gosh darn engaging, at least consider the possibility that your message would be better delivered through the magic of moving pictures.
If you’ve tried to overcome the challenge of waning attention, what have you tried that’s worked (or hasn’t worked)? Did you try anything that might be considered outside the box? Let us know in the Comment section below!
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