Print’s new role in internal comms

Print's new role in the internal comms world

June 1, 2016

What do internal communications and Radiohead have in common?

As wonderful as it is to access everything important in your life through a device that fits in your pocket (or bag if you are an iPhone 6 plus devotee), there is still no replacement for a tangible, physical item of beauty that you can pick up and hold in your hands.

With so much time spent on digital screens, we need some relief from it. Printed media offers us that respite and, in a work environment, the opportunity to leave your desk, sit in the sun and take a genuine break.

But with digital being so convenient, so omnipresent, print needs to work harder to give the reader a different experience, a respite from the flickering lights. Crucially, for IC experts, the pressure is on to offer high-quality media across both formats.

For a perfect example of striking this balance, just look at the latest Radiohead album. For those who want the immediacy and convenience of the digital version, it is one payment and a quick download away. For those that crave something more physical, you have the option of an art book and limited edition French-style vinyl.

This really encapsulates the idea that when you create a physical product in industries that are now predominantly digital, it needs to be something special that will look great on a coffee table or book shelf.

So, let’s assume you’ve got your wonderful employee magazine (if you don’t, then you know where we are), here are some other printed publications you can use to genuinely engage employees:

Culture handbooks

Employee handbooks rarely get read and go out of date quickly.

Why not leave the details to the HR policies and create a ‘culture book’ that helps new starters truly understand the company’s vision and culture, along with a little personality thrown in for good measure? As well as welcoming new colleagues to the business, culture books can be a powerful recruitment tool.

The most famous of these is by video game developer Valve, whose employee handbook sent shockwaves through the industry when it was released. Read it for yourself here.

Here are some more examples (some printed, some not): Disqus, Zappos, Netflix

Annual reports

An annual report is often a tough read; long and full of impenetrable jargon, sometimes it feels like it exists purely because it has to.

But it doesn’t have to be this way – put all the detailed financials on the web and focus on creating a report that will delight and inspire those reading it.

Maybe something like this from Amnesty International or this one that provides the reader with a cup of tea at the same time?

Even if you do choose to go with the standard approach to annual reports, why not present it in a way that makes it more attractive for the person receiving it?

Like this one from Pirelli.

Corporate narratives and ‘history of the company’ stories

These are not often printed documents, but why not? Create some beautiful hardback copies and give them to all your new starters. This way you are making the right first impression for them (no staples or photocopies in sight) and massively improving your chances of high retention.

The potential impact of these materials cannot be overstated. It’s very easy to disregard this approach as frivolous, especially when budgets are tight. But the truth is, the overall effect can be substantial: they show you care about employees, help them buy into your philosophies and. most importantly, make them proud to work at a business that takes the time to create such quality materials for their people.

In summary, if you are going to do print, make sure you do it properly.