[Q & A] Measuring and Building the Internal Comms Function

In our recent case study webinar we spoke to two internal comms practitioners about two very different challenges: 1) building the IC function from scratch, and 2) creating access to metrics to measure engagement and prove business value.

Sue Brockett, Communications Manager for Granite Services, a wholly owned affiliate of GE and Jody Wilkins, Employee Communication Specialist at Concur Technologies took attendees through great insight and tips for meeting two big challenges.

If you’ve not attended one of my best practice webinars, we give attendees the opportunity to ask questions. This is a valuable part of attending, and I thought I’d share some of Jody and Sue’s responses. (You can hear the entire webinar and the Q&A session here)

Here are a few that Jody and Sue answered:

Jody, it’s one thing to measure clicks and open rates, but how do you measure effectiveness? How do you measure the outcome against the mission of your function?

“When you figure it out, let ME know! It always depends specifically on exactly what you are really after or care about. “Engagement” can be attendance at an event, adoption of a platform, utilization of a tool, employee sentiment/satisfaction/intent to stay, etc. The mission of my function sometimes is one or all of those. If my leader comes in and asks “how did that go,?” I want them to define what THAT is. It’s hard for them, but important for them to articulate clearly and for you to understand before you begin. Here’s what I recommend: ask the most important people what THEY think your mission is! You’ll get some great answers that will help you begin.”

Jody, Have you ever had to address issues of technical quality of video? We have issues with our technology not delivering the same playback quality in all areas of our network. Have you experienced this and what did you do to solve it?

“Yes, we have experienced this and for the most part it can’t be controlled. For example, we have an office in Prague whose network is currently undergoing a major upgrade. Vimeo or some other streaming service is your best option. The first step however, is to ensure that whoever is publishing the video exports it in a way that makes it as stream-able as possible. Tell me more about your specific situation and I’ll try to give you as much detail as I can.”

Jody you used a hashtag in his We Work With Awesome campaign. Did this have roots in a social platform?

“Most social media platforms—internal and external—use hashtags now. I just made this one up and it clicked. Feel free to use it! One good example I like of using social media is the way Expedia uses their Life@Expedia Twitter account. I think they allow designated people at their global offices to post to it.”

Jody, Can Vimeo be configured to only be an internal tool? Or can people access your videos externally?

“Yes. And that’s exactly how we use it. We pay for an Enterprise account that we set to Private. This allows us to still make videos public—if you have the URL. Also, it allows you to set a password on them if you like. I’d be happy to do a screen share and show you how it’s configured. The truth is however, it’s impossible to truly secure anything unless you provide individual links to every person or keep it behind your company’s firewall (less appealing to mobile device users). Mostly we don’t post anything that we need this secure. When we do, we put a password on it that sends a clear, if only effective message that it’s confidential. We’ve yet to have an issue.”

Sue, you did an audit to get things started, but do you think an Internal Communication audit is useful to do even if the function is in place?
“Oh yes absolutely. I think they’re important to do every few years. It’s really easy for someone who’s been in a role or with a company a number of years to become complacent or have blinders on, so to speak. A periodic communications audit can help you see if your communications are still meeting the employees’ needs as well as the company’s. They can really be a good catalyst for updating or modifying your strategy, and as a way to keep your communications fresh and relevant. It’s something that I’ll do on an ongoing basis, as I put my strategy in place and go forward.

(Here is a step-by-step guide to auditing your organization’s communication channels from Ragan Communications and Newsweaver .)

Sue, you equip your managers to be communicators. How effective do you think this has been for your organization?

“For us, it’s really crucial that our managers are able to help communicate our messages to our employees. Because of the nature of our work, the majority of our employees are just not at their desk all the time. They’re out working at job sites, they have limited access to computers – they’re not able to log into an intranet site every day, or even check their emails on a regular basis. And, for us around the world we have language barriers to consider too. Not all of our employees speak English. But what they do, is interact with their local managers every day. Whether it’s in huddle meetings, just general conversation, so we really rely on our managers to be able to share information when there are new initiatives or just engaging in everyday conversations to help build and maintain the culture that we’re trying to integrate here. That’s part of the reason why creating and emailing out these manager toolkits works for us – it keeps the managers informed, they know what they need to tell to employees, they’re confident – it’s worked out really great to do that.”

Sue, you’ve shown us about how you use your channels available to you – and was wondering how you tackled the language barrier challenge you mentioned earlier?

Language does present a challenge for us, and I’ll be honest with you, it’s something that we still struggle with. I honestly haven’t found a perfect solution yet. For the most part all of our managers do speak English, so all of our corporate communications are generated in English. And this is where our manager toolkits come in handy. We can set the expectations and provide them with what they need to know so that they can interpret and pass the message onwards. In addition to this we have crucial information such as policy updates or big corporate announcements, and our HR managers in various locations are able to translate into a variety of languages. If we have things that are pretty static and don’t change very often, we’ll hire an outside translation service. For example, Granite Services corporate policies and Code of Conduct, have been translated into as many as twenty different languages and are available to employees.

Internal Video is of huge interest

There were a number of questions about using video in internal communications, i.e. can an iPhone and a good mic do a good job to shoot a video?

This on-demand webinar I did with Rocky Walls is around IC videos. He covers the options for creating videos, equipment to use, where to source material, etc. It’s available here:

Watch the on demand webinar


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