by | Jan 14, 2020

Employee magazines can be powerful storytelling devices for shifting your culture. If you want to align employees with leadership’s vision, create acceptance for change or bring your values to life, magazine articles can give employees concrete examples of what that looks like. (For more on how magazines can help anchor employees during times of change and build trust in leadership, see this Best Practices one-pager.)

At Tribe, we’ve seen many companies struggle with developing magazines or employee newsletters on a timely basis. The quarterly issue may not make it out the door more than a few times a year, or the monthly publication may not be approved by leadership before the month is out. Over the years, we’ve developed a process for magazine development that streamlines the workflow for our clients — and produces content that’s more culturally relevant for employees.

Five tips for streamlining employee magazines:
Give each issue its own cultural theme.

You might start with your company purpose and each of the values. Or theme each issue with the cultural shift you’re trying to create, from innovation and collaboration to client-centricity and a service focus. You also might include themes like leadership development or safety or corporate responsibility.

Develop an editorial framework.

Create a matrix of articles that you’ll fill in with the theme of each issue. For example, each issue might include a Q&A with executive leadership, a roundtable of mid-level leaders from various business units or geographical locations, employee spotlights and a feature on the recent work of one global office, division, retail location or plant.

Be efficient with interviews.

A common mistake is to interview too many people and to spend too much time talking with each one. Remember you’re writing a short article for an employee magazine, not an entire book.

Streamline the interview process by limiting the number of people you interview and the length of those conversations. Prepare your questions ahead of time and keep the interview under 30 minutes. If you’re including several people in one article, you might need only 10 minutes time with each one.

Use a templated design.

If you’ve established an editorial framework you’ll repeat for each issue, it’s easy to have a templated design and layout as well. Make sure it’s on brand and allows some flexibility for length of articles, and then use that template to quickly create each issue.

Limit the approval process.

A lengthy approval process that involves many people is the Bermuda Triangle of employee magazines. Keep approvals to a small group, perhaps the SME for each article and one member of the executive leadership team. It’s not necessary to have everyone interviewed for the publication approve their article. (In the real world, people interviewed for newspaper and magazine articles don’t get to make changes to the articles before publication.)

Print or digital?

Consider your employee audience to determine the format of your employee magazine. If only 30% of your workforce has a company email address, then sending a digital magazine is probably not the answer — or at least not the whole answer. (For more on reaching non-desk workers, see 4 ways to communicate with the frontline.)

Who will be able to access the publication by computer? Who might read it on their mobile device? Who would be best reached with a printed piece in the break room — or mailed to their homes? Publishing the employee magazine or newsletter is just the first step. You also need to make sure your employees actually see it.

Interested in developing a cultural magazine or newsletter for your employees? Tribe can help.

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