What a joy it was last week to gather with kindred spirits at the Poppulo Communicators Forum in Ireland – where our HQ is based and where it all started for Poppulo.
This was our first Forum on home soil, after a string of similar events across several American and European cities this year. As our VP of Marketing, Mairead Maher said – with a smile – in her welcome address, she wasn’t sure if what she and the Poppulo team were feeling was the same as when Bono and U2 finally played Dublin at the end of a world tour, but it sure was wonderful to bring the Forum home!
It was a great event and after listening to the various speakers and interesting conversations with those in attendance, here are my top takeaways:
- When discussing channels – it’s all about your reach. Of course, you’re striving for no less than a 100% employee reach rate, right? Do you even know if you can reach every single employee in your organization? Can you measure? Do you know what channels to use for which audiences? Do you have the insight? Can you report to stakeholders how every campaign and communication performed – by individual channel or as a multi-channel result? (check out our cross-channel analytics). Of course, the mobile channel is the hot topic of the moment. Mobile is not THE answer to a 100% reach, but it’s a big part of your solution.
What’s increasingly obvious is that there’s no ‘silver bullet’ for 100% reach: it’s achieved by a combined use of several channels, from email to intranet, to video to mobile.
Our customer speaker Chris Hill at Unilever positioned mobile in an interesting way: as “the last mile” to achieve that reach beyond the desk to the factory floor and beyond.
- Be the audience expert in your organization. Make it your business to have the insight and ability to profile and explain internal audiences to your stakeholders. This is how you can best craft a strategy that will resonate with each employee.Whoever has the greatest internal audience insight has the power to help create the strategy – and will sit at the top table. Can you? If not, make 2019 the year you create personas. It’s not as difficult as you may think – even if data is a challenge. Watch our on-demand webinar to see easy tips for setting up personas.
- Build a team ecosystem. Shift away from having a group of people on your team who have the same skill sets. Instead, think about hiring based on unique skills missing from your team. Are you unable to produce meaningful insights and reports from your campaign results? Hire a data expert. Want to produce sizzling internal content your employees have come to expect to read outside the organization? Hire an ex-journalist. Or upskill team members. Bottom line: Invest in skills.
- Employees demand a seamless digital experience. Top trends include dealing with the generational and technology shift, as well as the relationship between HR, internal comms and IT. The very top challenge mentioned – almost to a speaker – is achieving the best Employee Digital Experience.
Addressing the blurring boundaries between external and internal communications is a key issue facing communicators over the next 3-5 years. If you think it’s about bringing the outside in, forget it. As customer speaker Susan Elliott of AIB noted, you can’t control what the employee sees, hears and knows. The pressure is on you to deliver internal communications that match what’s happening on the outside (the customer experience). That means in real time, across multiple channels – and always interactive (employees expect to have a voice).
- Line managers are your change agents. Line managers are key trusted influencers in employee engagement. Industry research, and our research confirms it. However, research also reveals line managers are often the weakest link in ensuring employees are informed, understand and embrace what is happening within the organizations.
That’s because line managers are often poor communicators. Which leads me to:
- Coaching is YOUR role. IC has moved into a coaching role. We must do it, and we must make rockstar communicators of our leaders and our line managers. Do you have plans in place to make this happen? We saw examples of management guides, templates, toolkits, video clips, and microsites, all set up to empower line managers in preparing for better communication with their teams. (Watch our on-demand webinar on improving face-to-face comms in your company.)
- Drive conversations by providing results and overcoming stakeholder hunches. How are your campaigns performing? If you don’t have the evidence, you will suffer at the hands of stakeholders acting on hunches, or going with inaccurate perceptions around the true results of campaigns.
Communicators must grab the opportunity to have real and insightful results to share in meetings. This is what will change the conversation with stakeholders. Evidence-based conversations lead to strategy-lead communications (with you at the top table).
My top takeaway…
“So I’m not the only one with these problems!” Every single time I attend an employee communication event – no matter how large or small the gathering, communicators say the same thing: “I had no idea everyone was having the same challenges as I am!” That’s right. We’re all in this together.
(P.S. If you’d like to get more insight into particular challenges you and other internal communicators are facing at the moment, visit our resources section where you will find expert advice on a wide range of free content, white papers, How To Guides, webinars and Top Tips – plus a compelling range of international voices in our IC Matters blog).
You can view the presentation slides from the day here.