Internal Communication Commandments to Live By


In order to improve an organization as a whole, it is critical to improve internal corporate communications. Best Practices, LLC’s work highlights how companies deliver their internal messages and find the proper balance between informing and educating employees.

We have seen companies use the 10 Commandments of Internal Brand Messaging as a checklist, and by doing so they do not overlook an activity or lead to poor communication inside and outside the company. Here are a few Commandments to live by:

Commandment: Use segmentation – cautiously – to customize educational messages to employees.

Customizing messages for internal audiences can improve message reception. However, many companies lack sophisticated systems to create internal segmentations. In fact, many companies have said they are unwilling to use such messaging with employees because it can create a lack of consistency in basic brand-positioning.

Still, proponents see success by varying the timing of their communications (some groups get information before others) or by depth of detail (some get more information than others.) Also, trainers said they find segmentation useful to provide the right content for different job functions.

Commandment: Conduct education and communication in waves for optimal message retention.

Because disease state communication involves complex medical and clinical information, savvy brand team leaders expect to parse out information to other employees. They do so by presenting the information in phases so that recipients can digest it a little at a time.

They said that employees absorb the information most effectively when they receive just enough at a time to make them curious and interested in learning more. More often than not, good internal disease state communication begins with presenting the burden of the illness, and they suggest communicating about a new drug around 18 to 22 months before launch. One caveat to this is that sales communications often are held back to prevent pre-approval selling.

Commandment: Use a mix of channels to maximize employee reach about disease state education.

Using a multi-channel approach to disease state communication and education can maximize employee reach. New technology-based channels are used more often to reach younger, tech-savvy employees. This blending of traditional and new-technology channels provides coverage to all employees and broadens optimal reach.

Activities such as e-mail bulletins and conference calls or webinars are the internal communication channels that most companies deem effective, although leader-led classes are the channel most often rated “highly effective.” Among the advantages for in-person, group training for a socially sensitive condition are that:

  • Leader can report back on education challenges encountered.
  • Employees can get comfortable with using terminology in conversation.
  • Leaders can model appropriate behavior.
  • Any need for additional training can be identified and implemented.

Still, social media, animation and video can be effective in reaching younger employees.

Commandment: Monitor internal message effectiveness—at least on an informal basis—to gauge overall communication success.

Measuring the effectiveness of internal messages has yet to become a standard practice for most companies, but I believe its importance cannot be overlooked. Too often companies rely on informal methods of data collection, such as monitoring hallway “buzz,” to determine the effect of their words.

For those who understand the importance of this tenet, formal metrics not only gauge how messages have been received but they also allow companies to craft more meaningful messages in the future.

Don’t think of internal branding as a gimmick to keep marketing professionals with too much time on their hands. Internal branding offers a link to the organization’s culture and values for its employees who must work to help the company achieve its goals. Thus, leaders should link their communications to the internal branding process to marry corporate goals to organizational outcomes.

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