Corporate communications—including both internal and external communications to key stakeholders—has never been more important, or more challenging, than it is today. With employees and customers working remotely with little or no face-to-face time, the words we use, when we use them and how they are interpreted take on a much greater importance.
The ability to stay connected with our teams and stakeholders, be engaged and provide information at the right time is critical to success. Working from home can cause some employees to feel out of touch, uninformed and possibly unmotivated. Employees and stakeholders want to feel important and the right communications can help alleviate challenges, provide context and spark engagement.
Consider the following tips to developing successful communications:
Be thoughtful and intentional with words.
Whether working on a complex announcement or dealing with a communication challenge between colleagues, take time to really consider how the message may be received. What emotions does the message create? What questions need to be answered? What is the tone? What is the key takeaway?
Consider the source.
People want to hear from leaders, so consider a cadence and variety of sources when pushing out content.
Understand your audience environment.
Consider the ever-changing environment and what other content your audience is consuming and how it may be affecting them. To avoid appearing “tone deaf” or inappropriate, seek input on messaging from partners – whether from another internal team or an external agency partner. How do they interpret it?
While it can often take time to get through the proper approvals for corporate communications, timing matters. It’s important to determine a process that allows for quick response to address stakeholder concerns when it is relevant. A tiered approach can be helpful for expediting the internal approval process.
Employ a variety of communication channels.
People are consuming messaging in so many forms today – on their mobile device, laptop, intranet apps/tools such as Teams or Zoom, group chats, and social media channels. Utilizing different channels also provides an opportunity for video or other visuals that may help provide the intended emotion and tone. Depending on the message, consider employing multiple channels for greatest impact.
Communicate clearly and often.
Without the opportunity to engage in-person on a daily basis, clear, concise and frequent messaging will help employees or stakeholders feel more confident and supported. Regular and consistent updates to communication channels should be coordinated.
Provide opportunities for two-way communication.
The in-person office experience that often accompanies an important communication to employees—whether that be staff meetings, informal team gatherings or other in-person opportunities—is no longer part of the corporate communications toolbox. Adding a Zoom or Teams meeting as a follow-up to an important communication can help reinforce messaging and give employees an opportunity to ask questions and share feedback.
Show optimism and celebrate successes.
While this is a challenging time for most people, there are successes along the way and it’s important to share those milestones—they help us engage as teams, build camaraderie and pride. Celebrate the progress that is being made.
Keep it real.
People want to hear clear and personalized information they can relate to. Save the corporate speak, which can come across impersonal and uncaring.
If we can help you think through how your company is approaching corporate communications in this new environment, please reach out to our team here.