Listen up IC: To gain control you must be prepared to give some away. Simple as that.
— January 6th, 2020
I’ve been very lucky that over the last 7 years I have had the opportunity to work with Internal Communication teams across the globe, being with them on their journey to achieving the goals they set when they partnered with Poppulo.
Over the years, I’ve found that organizations everywhere, of varying sizes and complexity, share very similar pain points. And they are, primarily:
- Measurement – lack of insight into which emails and content employees are or are not reading
- Our solution: On every email sent via Poppulo you will have opens, click, content popularity, destination reports the list goes on.
- Standardization – branding of communications across the organization can be difficult to control, different solutions and skill levels mean that there is a lack of consistency
- Our solution: We custom design and build templates so that they not only have the correct branding but also the look and feel you desire.
- Targetting and Personalizing Content – Because Distribution Lists are often managed by IT and are rarely up to date IC Teams typically take one or both approaches 1) either large emails with lots of content sent to an all-employee distribution list regardless of the relevancy and/or 2) multiple emails being sent to different distribution lists to ensure all the message were being sent, meaning some employees would have received multiple emails and even the same message multiple times.
- Our solution: You can either target an entire email to the right distribution list or target individual pieces of content within a newsletter to an employee based on their role, title, location, etc.
- Reducing Noise – due to the lack of up to date distribution lists and not fit for purpose tools IC need to send multiple emails with different messages across the organization.
- Our solution: You can easily consolidate a number of communications into one Newsletter, targeting each article to the correct audience meaning that IC is sending only one email, therefore, cutting down on the number of emails you send.
How employee communication drives business outcomes
The power of Poppulo’s sophisticated but simple-to-use software has a well-proven ability to help communicators reduce communication noise, so why am I still hearing that it’s still a problem. After all, I explained how easy it is to solve, right?
I see that our clients are consciously cutting down on their frequency of sending their comms; consolidating information into their newsletters; pushing back on the business when particular emails do not need to be sent; but still, the employee engagement surveys frequently show that noise is still a significant problem.
So what’s causing it? And, more importantly, what’s the solution?
Currently, with lots of our clients, the IC team has a tight rein on how Poppulo is used – and who gets to use and control it. Only certain IC pros have access and the ability to create, send and measure their communications. They have full visibility over the communications being sent and a very detailed understanding of how the comms are performing and who’s engaging with.
So if they are addressing all of the above then where is the noise coming from? Is IC really to blame?
I don’t think so. In many organizations, the big problem of communication noise is down to a species that I like to call the Rogue Communicator.
Quite frankly, Rogue Communicators are a pest: they don’t sit in IC, they often have the cheek to leverage a mailing tool, they love to send emails and other comms across the business, and, unlike IC, they don’t always follow the rules of branding, relevancy, frequency or tone.
And then you have the Business Communicators, who sit within different functions such as IT, Compliance, Sales, Marketing, HR, etc. They all have important and valuable updates, but again often don't follow the Internal Communications cadence.
The clients I have worked with who successfully reduced noise did one specific thing differently: they realized if they insisted that Poppulo remained in their total control and wasn’t available to be used by other departments as an organizational communications tool, then the chaos would continue and the noise would simply get worse.
So they relinquished that iron grip, Poppulo began to be used far and wide outside of IC, and the noise dialed down dramatically. Now, I fully realize that the very thought of letting the reins loose like this is enough to send a shiver up the spine of any IC professional, but bear with me.
The reality, whether we like to believe or accept it or not, is that most employees believe that all the emails they receive from the business are Internal Communications – they don’t differentiate – AND DON’T REALLY CARE, whether they came from the IC team or not.
So, while IC teams using software such as Poppulo can successfully reduce their comms output and achieve greater targeting of relevant content, the benefit is not felt by employees when they continue to be bombarded with comms from the Rogue Communicators and the Business Communicators, who pump out ‘internal communications’ outside of an organization-wide platform.
We conducted research back in July 2018 where we interviewed employees across a number of different industries and roles and it quickly became evident that whether communications were coming from HR, IT, Compliance or IC, it really didn’t matter to employees – they were all considered internal comms.
So what's the solution? To gain control, you must loosen control. You need to have visibility on what's happening in order to address it.
When IC tool up both the Rogue Communicators and the Business Communicators then you have complete oversight on the entire communications air traffic across the business, rather than just the IC Function specifically.
You now can help control the branding, the frequency, the tone and from there begin to gain control over the noise. You can begin to consolidate not only the content items IC are sending but merge that with the content from right across the business into single newsletters meaning that employees are not only receiving better quality emails but less and improving the employee's experience of communications.
Business-wide email communications that include everything employees need to know from Strategy to Policies to Wellness to Careers etc, content is targeted based on location, department, titles to make it even more relevant and personalized.
The IC function needs to move away from being just another comms distributor and be an enabler for better, more consistent organization-wide communications.
An enabler for HR, IT, IR, etc. Ultimately it should be the IC function’s responsibility to partner with these parts of the business with the best tools and processes.
Poppulo's Enterprise solution was developed to provide a framework to achieve uniformity of system, style, and voice. And for our customers who have embraced this approach the rewards have been (quietly!) spectacular!
So, Internal Comms, what are you waiting for, stop taking the blame, lose control and reach that goal of reducing noise, it's easier than you think.