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Blog: how to connect with an internal audience? Be bold

How to connect with employees? Be bold

June 11, 2015

Boldness is an underestimated quality in communication. We all face similar, well-documented employee engagement challenges – and they are not insubstantial.

Sometimes it can be as simple as this: involve people.

Seeing this recent front page of the Liverpool Echo was inspirational.

#tellali
#tellali

The June 1 edition’s front page was nearly a blank canvas only displaying the title’s masthead and the hashtag ‘#tellali’.

It was the launch of a multimedia campaign aimed at making Liverpool Echo readers central to the reboot of the iconic Merseyside publication.

Echo editor Ali Machray said: “Liverpool has changed. It is unrecognisable from what it was 20 years ago.

“It is clear we exist in a new Liverpool, and the Echo must reflect that. We are proud of what we do. And now we’re asking ourselves: can we do it even better? Do we reflect this new Liverpool as well as we should?

“We want to be the best we can be. We want to evolve into what Liverpool wants and needs us to be. So we can continue to serve our city like we’ve done for 136 years.”

As an Evertonian with more than one or two scousers on my news-feed, I watched fascinated as hundreds of #tellali tweets submerged everything else.

Thick skin would have been needed for some replies, while others provided a real insight into the direction the paper needed to take.

And it all came from a near blank page on a print publication encouraging feedback via a social channel.

Bold. Decisive. Refreshing. Inventive. Perhaps even risky.

Yet surely it was worth it?

By bringing people into the very heart of the Echo’s forthcoming changes, the paper’s open approach has garnered audience engagement at the very beginning of the programme. That feedback and involvement will be crucial in the longer term.

For the record I’m not suggesting every internal comms publication opts for a hashtag-only front page approach in future.

But the mindset can be applied to internal communication with great effect.

We know disruptive communication has huge impact and reach.

Be inventive. Make people think – and then watch them respond as a result. Tried-and-tested techniques are fine for everyday comms – but something out of the ordinary is required for the more important campaigns, I’d suggest.

Additionally campaigns CAN work across channels with great effect as the vocal reaction to the #tellali hashtag revealed.

It just needs to be a planned multimedia operation from the outset. Too often, social – or other digital channels – are an after-thought while print is seen as a cumbersome media that requires months of careful planning. Neither is remotely true.

If you can harness your internal channels to work together and involve the audience in the campaign at the very beginning, engagement will not be too far away.