In public relations, businesses are always thinking about external audiences. But just as important as the people you are trying to reach is your internal audience – your employees. Internal communications is essential to any PR plan but often gets overlooked. Here is an Internal Communications 101 course to guide your interactions with the people who really should be your company or brand’s biggest fans.
When communicating with internal audiences:
• Be timely: Providing clear, relevant information to employees as soon as it’s available is key to building trust. This prevents water cooler gossip and rumors. Unless it’s a legal or other sensitive topic, insiders really should be the first to know (employees resent hearing their company’s news from outside sources).
• Aim for accuracy: Although it is ideal to distribute news or corporate messages as quickly as possible, it’s equally important to provide accurate, complete information the first time. If you have to send multiple e-mails to clarify or correct a message that was previously distributed, you risk your credibility among the group.
• Be direct (but professional): Employees understand that not all news can be good news. While it might be tempting to skirt around uncomfortable issues or downplay the significance of a negative event, you’ll do your company a disservice by twisting the truth or leaving out information. One caveat: staffing and HR-related issues. These are a different beast—and companies must always respect the privacy of any current or former employee.
• Listen. Communication is never a one-way street. Ask your employees for feedback about programs and initiatives. Find out what other insiders think about specific communications channels you’re using. Deploy anonymous surveys and learn from the results. Remember that if someone complains, at least it means they are paying attention.