Throughout my career in communications, marketing and advertising, we’ve talked about targeting and reaching audiences. The problem is that we communicate with people, not audiences. An audience doesn’t hear the key points from a town hall – an employee does. Audiences don’t read emails or click on a video link – a person does.

As a former advertising media director, I was taught to think in terms of audiences because media advertising has historically been an inefficient endeavor. A client would spend millions of dollars running television spots, magazine ads and billboard campaigns in hopes of reaching a percentage of that prized target audience. Most often, communicators use the same approach in the internal communications world.

Make the most of your platform

A one-size-fits-all communications platform forces companies to push information out to audiences rather than communicate with people. And that generally results in cluttered inboxes and communicators wondering if employees are – or why employees aren’t – engaging with their content.

Nowadays, modern intranets and other communications platforms allow for plenty of audience segmentation. This provides the opportunity to get relevant messages to employees based on roles, locations and any other important ways communicators might want to filter content. It allows us to direct content toward individual people and not crowds – or at toward individual roles.

Unfortunately, technology is just the beginning of the conversation. To get the relevant information that aligns employees’ day-to-day actions with the vision and goals of leadership, we need to know a few important things.

Pay attention to the details

First, we need to clearly understand the company vision and what leadership is trying to achieve. Tribe believes that if an employee buys into what the company is about and understands how their role contributes to success, they’ll be much more engaged in their work. And Gallup has been telling us about the benefits of employee engagement for years.

Different parts of the organization contribute to the vision in different ways. R&D has a role. Manufacturing has a role. Sales and marketing has a role. Support functions have roles. So rather than sending a one-size-fits-all message out to the entire audience, it’s important that we translate the messages to ensure that they’re relevant to those specific roles.

To do that, we need to understand the audience matrix, which is a tool that helps us understand each employee’s role and where we can find those folks. We use this information to build personas and filters that magnetize messages to specific roles inside an organize. Understanding the audience matrix is very simple in some companies. In many, though, it can be very complex. The more complex the organization, the more important it is to clearly understand the audience matrix.

Finally, we need to understand the physical reality of each employee role. Are they in an office? On a manufacturing floor? In a retail office? Remote at their kitchen table? Knowing these details help us understand which channels an employee might actually engage with and how we might get them to read the message that aligns the role with the vision.

Need help building a communications calendar? Tribe can help.

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