Engagement
WHERE IC PROFESSIONALS COME TO TALK

HOW CAN INTERNAL COMMS TEAMS MAKE THEIR CONTENT MORE CREATIVE?

Often in internal comms, a topic rolls around that you’ve communicated on a dozen times. We asked a panel of experts to share their approaches to coming up with new ideas and some of the alternative ways in which they have been presenting content. 

21st September 2021

There are only so many different ways you can share the same message and, if employees haven’t engaged with it already, another article on the intranet isn’t going to cut it.

There are many things trapping internal communicators from unleashing their full creative potential. Good ideas take time – and sometimes require deep pockets. It’s natural to want to save your budget and brainpower for new big campaigns. For everything else, a 300-word story is the quickest way to make your point – but usually it’s the perennial “everything else” topics that require some fresh thinking.

As the communications department, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut without realising it, rehashing ideas or being too cautious about adhering to style guides; sometimes the very guides we created ourselves are stifling our ability to be inventive.

When you need to do something different to make employees sit up and take notice, it pays to throw out the rule book and look outside of your small team.

 

ROBERT EDMONDS, founder and creative director, nrg

If an organisation is not open to taking risks and trying new things, it will be almost impossible to create a new piece of comms to really engage with the business.

We always ask our clients to know and define their Why, What and How. Focusing on these thought processes will naturally encourage people to innovate to create new ideas and platforms for their internal communication.

Ideation – brainstorming or mind mapping – is crucial to success. Gather your IC team and put their heads together. The more diversity you can introduce in your team in terms of expertise and individual characteristics, the more diverse your ideas will be. Look at creating great content and eye-catching campaigns. It is vital to create the “wow!” factor. Move beyond talking heads and PowerPoint slides.

Know your audience. Deploy a style or film they will engage with. Better still, build an ideas factory and challenge employees to come up with new ideas to sex up the messaging. Be really brave and adventurous, and invite colleagues from a variety of areas within the business to create their own films.

 

MONIQUE ZYTNIK,  global SME employee communication, Open Communication

The new kid on the block is immersive communication. You can immerse yourself in an activity or a real or virtual environment, and immersive communication focuses on this experience. It is about communicating in a non-linear, exploratory way, where your visitor or audience can pick and choose what they want to interact with and how they want to consume content.

I think of it as shifting the thinking around channels – from what will you put on the intranet or who will post the campaign quiz on Yammer, to experience-based thinking of how your colleagues could experience the messages in an environment you create.

We’ve been working with 3D environments – desktop-based – to engage with employees on corporate strategy, recruitment and anything that involves bringing fun, curiosity and choice into what can sometimes be perceived as quite dry topics.

For me, the most interesting thing is realising that people truly do experience things differently. Converting content from 2D – posters, intranet content, etc – into 3D requires a different way of thinking. Your visitor might start at the back of the space, or at the front, and move to the left or right. You really give them the choice and you need all the messages to make sense on their own, while contributing to the whole story. Audio also becomes much more important.

It is not a replacement of intranets or real events, but rather an addition.

 

ZANE EWTON, senior internal communications specialist, The Villages

I love employee-submitted content. I want to give employees a platform where they can share their own stories in their own voices. It can often create more work than if I had crafted the stories myself, as the employees might need some coaching and support along the way.

When you consider how much competition our internal news content has, when it’s up against everything else an employee has at their fingertips, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We’re competing with TikTok dancers, Instagram food bloggers and whatever nonsense is happening on Facebook. The social media fads come and go, and we can often participate in those for a shot of fun here and there. But I would argue nothing is going to have more value building trust and relationships than in a leader or employee sharing their story.

I think one of the most powerful stories to tell are in our failures – not just in the failure, but in what we learned and how we bounced back.

Whether it’s written, in a video or podcast or however, stripping off the layers of corporate jargon and giving a leader or an employee the proverbial mic is going to connect with others.  
I think one of the most powerful stories to tell is in our failures – not just in the failure, but in what we learned and how we bounced back.

I’ve always thought “explain this concept on a Post-it note” could be a great way to communicate a process or an idea. How often are we tasked with simplifying a concept, policy or procedure in a way that’s understandable and easy to consume? And how often do we do that ourselves while sitting at our desk and jotting a note down on a Post-it?

 

ANIISU K VERGHESE, corporate communications leader, author and speaker

Communicators – and often leaders – assume that communication is the sole remit of the communication department. This is far from the truth. By harnessing the creativity and power of employees, organisations and communicators have a lot to gain, rather than lose.

When a consulting firm struggled to get staff to adhere to a HR policy on dress code, even when it was hurting client perceptions, I recommended reaching out to employees and asking them to represent how the policy could be interpreted. It resulted in a stop-motion video, pieced together with hundreds of photos, created completely by employees. The result: a significant acceptance of the policy.

In another case, the hiring team at a large retail firm was unable to attract talent despite having one of the best office spaces in the outskirts of the city. When I brainstormed with employees, an idea emerged to create a virtual tour of the premises. Through an informal outreach, we discovered employees with skills in 3D animation, photography and videography. This group of enthusiastic employees created the company’s first ever virtual tour, which was presented on the website and gave the hiring team results they never imagined.

When another company was finding it hard to showcase the community impact it was making, despite all the funding and commitment of volunteers, an outreach to staff resulted in the creation of a Google Map of the corporate social responsibility initiatives – trees planted, solar lights installed, schools adopted – on a digital platform. People could now virtually visit each site and travel in person to see for themselves the impact the organisation was making.

 

 

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