Think for a moment about the communications your non-desk employees receive. Those people in the warehouses, manufacturing facilities. healthcare systems and retail locations don’t spend much time in front of a computer. So they’re missing all the high-quality digital content created by your internal communications team – like the intranet, digital publications, videos and even emails from top leadership.
Field communications spring up to fill the gap
Well-intentioned leaders in these field locations often create lots of homegrown newsletters and blogs targeting those unreached non-desk workers or specialized groups. In many cases, the internal comms team may not even be aware of these channels. (For more on channels that go directly from corporate to the non-desk population, you might like this Ragan article.)
While corporate might describe these efforts as ‘rogue,’ the intent is valid and true. An employee segment isn’t getting the communications it needs, so managers fill the gap by interpreting the company message for their specific audience and provide a local flavor for their entity and community.
However, the creators of these rogue newsletters are often not professional communicators. And the quality of the copywriting and design may not live up to corporate expectations and may not even remotely follow brand guidelines – much less support the overall corporate narrative. (For ways to make the non-desk audience a higher priority in your overall strategy, try this Best Practices one-pager.)
Your largest audience may never see anything you do
Let’s do the math. Since non-desk folks often have limited access to official corporate internal communications channels, the majority of the input that the largest percent of a company’s employees see may be through these rogue avenues. So except for face-to-face huddles and pre-shift meetings, these channels could provide most or all of the cultural understanding of the company for this audience. The result can be a big gap in business and cultural alignment and a massive loss of company efficiency and effectiveness.
What’s the best way to serve those non-desk needs?
Here are four ways to help integrate those field communications into the larger framework of your internal communications strategy:
1. The Sheriff – There should be one person in the organization who is responsible for all internal communications. And it’s that person’s responsibility to ensure all employees receive the communications and input they need – not just corporate employees who sit at their desks all day.
The sheriff’s job is to provide resources, context and support for all internal content creators. This includes lots of paying attention to the needs of non-desk employees. It also includes finding ways to elevate local content so that the company can better understand and appreciate what’s going on globally.
2. The Calendar – There should be one internal communications calendar that prioritizes the messaging for all internal content – not just content from the folks on the corporate internal communications team.
The Sheriff negotiates with all of the communicators to ensure that right messages are communicated to right audiences at the right time. Without a single communications calendar and a Sheriff, employee’s inboxes will be filled with redundant and often irrelevant messages coming from every direction. Employees will quickly learn to ignore their inboxes.
3. The Content Manager Program – Identify content creators throughout the organization (including those non-desk audiences in local entities and specialized segments) and provide them with tools and support – writing tips, design tips, templates, direct manager toolkits, etc. – to help improve the quality of local entity or segmented communications.
Fill-in the blank templates allow content creators to easily develop great-looking, brand-compliant communications. And perhaps the comms team can earn bonus points by building these local communications into the internal brand architecture. This can help differentiate local communications so that employees can easily determine if it’s relevant to them.
4. The Communications Team Meetings – It does little good to send out templates and then forget about these content creators. Regularly scheduled calendar review meetings will help keep things on track. This will also provide a venue for idea generation. And perhaps help find ways to combine communications effort and reduce redundancy.
Need help organizing and executing your internal communications strategy? Tribe can help.