At many companies, internal communicators face an uphill battle. These tips will help you win people’s trust over time by writing company communications that are engaging and relevant.
Depending on your industry, a good chunk of your workforce likely takes anything from “corporate” with a grain of salt. Some ignore it entirely.
This attitude is especially common in industries with a lot of frontline workers, like healthcare and retail. Clinicians, retail workers, and other people out in the field have spent their entire careers being pestered with unnecessary emails, bulletins, and memos.
Most of these communications were written by people who were totally out of touch with the workers’ needs. Furthermore, they provided those workers with very little of value. They were more likely to offer blockers or waste their time than to help them do their jobs.
Through this lens, it is unsurprising that they don’t want to read your emails. Would you read your emails?
To fix this, you have to do a better job of keeping things simple, direct, and relevant. Hopefully, you have access to a communication platform that allows you to create and distribute interactive, engaging content.
If not, don’t worry—everything in this article applies to email or more traditional formats, too.
1. Keep it short and use visuals
You already know this, but it bears repeating.
If you write a novel, no one’s going to read it – this refers to your messages subject lines, as well. Write in chunks with titles that capture the key points, separated by images. This maps well to how the human brain digests information.
Some situations, though, require writing company communications with a deeper level of detail about a topic. A good solution is to capture the main point in a short blurb, and link out to the long version.
This not only keeps your message brief, but does a neat little psychology trick that many salespeople use. You get someone to say yes to a small, low-commitment question. The dopamine hit of giving another person a positive social cue primes them to say yes to more things, and they feel like they’re the one in control.
Clicking a link to a longer document plays the same trick in your head. It’s more likely that you’ll actually read it, compared to a really long email.
For example, you might have received an email with a synopsis of this blog post, then clicked on it. Now, here you are reading it. Would you have made it this far if the whole post had been in that email? Doubtful.
2. Provide value
In any business relationship, there’s a mix of items for which each party relies on the other. Hopefully, your audience needs things from you about as often as you need things from them.
If that’s the case, you can sandwich things you want them to know between things they want to know from you. If you do this well, people will read your messages without much prodding.
However, there are many cases where you’re in a more difficult position. You need people to engage with your content, but they rarely or never need your help to do their jobs.
In this case, providing value is tricky, and requires creativity. One approach is to find something they need that is difficult for them to get, and insert yourself into the process by delivering it to them in an easily digestible manner.
Then, you can use those messages like a trojan horse.
Another approach is to appeal to the employees’ interests on a human level. Find something they like, and start talking about it. Or, be funny. Make your communications so entertaining that people just plain want to read them.
Humor is a slippery slope, though. Waste too many words on jokes that don’t land, and you’ve lost your audience. Tread carefully here.
In any case, writing company communications that provide some kind of value is crucial.
3. Stay ahead of their questions
Every internal communicator knows the pain of getting 500 replies to a mass email asking the same question.
Over time, you get to know your audience and can make sure your content answers the kinds of questions they normally ask.
To get to this knowledge faster, show the communications you’re going to send out to a couple people from your audience. Ask them if it makes sense and if they have any follow-up questions.
With a good representative sample, this will fast-track you towards tailoring your messaging to your audience.
Anything you can do to answer people’s questions before they have a chance to ask them is worth it. Even if they still ask because they didn’t read your message all the way through, you have somewhere to point them.
4. Segment and target as much as possible
The key to successfully writing company communications is to make every message a person receives feel directly relevant to them. If you’re blasting company news to everyone with the same message, people will ignore you over time.
See how MangoApps helps you draft and segment employee communications
With every single communication that you send, you need to consider your audience carefully. Answer these two questions ruthlessly:
- Does everyone in this group actually need to receive this message?
- Is there any way I can segment this group further?
The more people you can eliminate from any given message, the better. The more you can break down your audience and make your message hyper-relevant, the more likely you are to build affinity and trust.
Trust is the key. Make employees believe that everything you send them is important to them, and they’ll engage with your messages.
It’s worth the extra effort to target and refine everything you send.
5. Choose your topics wisely, don’t over-communicate
This ties into the above, but it’s worth reiterating.
If you email me twice a day and my job doesn’t depend on reading your emails, you can bet that I won’t read them. Less is more, especially when there isn’t a two-way flow of requests between you and your audience.
You need to be judicious with your communications. View every communication you write through the lens of a merciless editor:
- Do you really need to send an email about this?
- Do you really need to cover all these topics in this much detail?
- Does this really need to go to all these people?
If you don’t have good answers to these questions, go back to the drawing board.
There’s a reason writing company communications is a full-time job. It’s a lot more nuanced than many people and organizations realize, and getting it right is the key to strong employee engagement and retention.
Delivering the right message to the right people at the right time is everything. It’s possible to do this well with even the most outdated tools, but there’s no question that a modern communication platform makes it easier.
For further reading, our customer symplr gives some great advice on getting buy-in from leadership and launching a new internal comms initiative, and our customer Benchmark shows how a simple mobile solution enables frontline teams.