The lines between internal and external communications are blurred more than ever. Regardless of the target audience, content readily jumps across channels.
This influences debates over how to better align internal and external communications, or even completely merge functions serving each. Efficiency is often cited as a driver.
Regardless of where you stand on the debate, there is little dispute that internal and external audiences are distinct. Each has unique needs and preferences. Not all content speaks to all audiences, nor do all channels reach them equally well.
An efficient investment in internal content
If you want to truly engage any particular audience, you need to invest in them. This includes internal stakeholders.
An internal investment can work harder by grouping content into one of four tiers. The budget and time commitments vary between tiers, and each presents its own opportunities and challenges. This systematic planning approach can help create clarity for audiences despite the fuzzy line between internal and external.
Tier 1: Straight Pull-Through
Sometimes there is not enough need or time to justify employee-specific content. In such instances, it is okay to reissue externally distributed information through internal channels. Getting critical information to employees quickly is better than making them feel overlooked.
Budget and Time Commitments: Low and Low
Key Thought: This tier is so easy to execute that it can quickly clutter channels if left unchecked. Be as thoughtful with this tier as any other.
Tier 2: Brief Context
Much of the information targeted to external audiences is relevant to employees, too. However, that information generally does not address their WIIFM. A straight pull-though may result in them questioning why they should care or, worse yet, bypassing it.
When issuing outside-focused content internally, write a new headline, subhead and one or two short paragraphs that speak directly to employees’ needs. Then link to the original information.
Budget and Time Commitments: Low and Moderate
Key Thought: The majority of content can flow through here. Experiment with catchy headlines, and pay attention to brevity when setting context. Avoid temptations to keep throwing in “just one more thing.”
Tier 3: Layering On
Some things require more than brief context. This usually applies to big events with broad impact (e.g., product launches, leadership changes, reorganizations). In such cases, an added layer (or two) of more thorough communication is needed to address needs, concerns or instructions for certain employee populations.
Budget and Time Commitments: Moderate and High
Key Thought: Leaders at every level love to layer on their perspectives. Too many layers will feel redundant to the audience as multiple nuanced messages fly around.
Tier 4: Inside Story
“Employees are a distinct audience with unique needs. This tier presents a great opportunity for creativity and impact with internal audiences. Optimize your investment by creating a marquee engagement program that connects deeply with employees.
Choose one area to capture their minds and hearts, and then create a story-driven, multimedia effort that builds interaction across your organization
Budget and Time Commitments: High and High
Key Thought: Not all contents needs to go to outside stakeholders. In highly regulated industries (e.g. pharmaceuticals, financial services) some content cannot be shared unless it is edited to the point that it becomes thoroughly uninteresting.