How do you get the balance right if your role spans both internal and external communications?
With the lines increasingly blurring, ‘internal’ is often ‘external’ now anyway. But it’s still important to keep your target audiences in mind.
We asked experienced comms ‘double hatter’ and newspaper journalist Carol Leach for her five top tips.
1. Decide on your messages for both internal and external communications right at the start.
This will avoid them conflicting further down the line. So many conversations are now playing out on social media.
This makes integrating your comms from the outset more important than ever. Employees – potentially your greatest ambassadors – shouldn’t get a completely different story inside from what people are saying outside.
2. Keep messages clear and concise. They’re more likely to stick. Add relevant links or contacts to further sources of information where you can.
3. Never use jargon – even in internal communications. Stick to plain English. No one wants to wade through a sea of acronyms.
4. Write your external communication first… you will often find your internal communications messages flow from that.
Even when it’s the same basic message, consider what additional information colleagues might need to know. For example, there’s a lot of talk about devolution in local government at the moment.
Some councils are already combining back office roles with neighbouring authorities, and a few are considering complete amalgamation.
The external message would focus on economies of scale and benefits in terms of services. The internal messages would need to reassure staff about jobs, deployment and possibly redundancies.
5. When releasing your external communications, ALWAYS put it on your intranet in advance, or at least simultaneously, to avoid employees hearing the news second hand. This helps build trust and engagement with your internal channels.
Carol has worked for local and national newspapers and has spent the past 26 years in internal/external comms, including 10 years at Stansted Airport.
Her experience covers public and private sector, and crisis media communications. She’s now an independent comms consultant.