During the COVID-19 pandemic, Communications has taken a front seat. Digital platforms we had been trying to push for years suddenly became mandatory, newsletters we had been working hard to promote became everyone’s daily read and click rates for messages that might have previously been ignored went through the roof. Everyone relied on us to not only know what was going on, but to understand how to do their day-to-day jobs. However, as we slowly emerge from the pandemic, there is a huge sense of post-COVID message fatigue. After such high consumption rates, employees need of a break. So how do we make sure those critical messages are still getting through?
Here are four key things we can do as Communicators that can make a real difference:
1. Use Personas to Target Employee Communications: Segment your audience — and think beyond simple demographic groupings to consider the behavioral profiles within your employee base. Using this kind of thinking can be helpful even if your organization doesn’t have formal employee personas developed. The more targeted the message, the more likely the stakeholder will be to respond (whether that’s with a re-tweet, a comment or talking about it in their next team catch up). The key here is to ensure personas align to a specific organizational goal (see link to article below for how to do this).
Top Tip: Aligning each message to what your audience needs to know to support company objectives will not only help you focus on quality over quantity but has the added bonus of helping you push back on the business. If a message isn’t aligned to one of the business’ mission critical priorities, it won’t be published by Communications!
2. Optimize Your Channel Mix: Run your own channel audit to determine which channel(s) is most suitable to achieve your business goals for a given message or campaign. This will prevent over-reliance on the channels that tend to be the most popular. Particularly during the pandemic, managers were looked to for contextualization of all the changes being thrown at employees. And the manager channel IS incredibly important – but be careful not to over-use it, or managers will drown. If you don’t have the means to run your own channel audit, you can use Gartner’s channel audit data of over 60,000 employees to understand when to tap into peer, leader or manager channels depending on your communication goals.
Top Tip: This is particularly critical if you are thinking of introducing a new channel such as an app, or updating the intranet. If you are investing in a digital channel because it will elevate the status of your communications, stop and think. Will you get a good return on investment? We’ve heard Communications teams invest heavily in an app, only to find two years down the line that usage drops.
3. Use an editorial calendar: Using an editorial calendar is essential to avoid overloading specific channels or segments with information. If your content creation is mapped out clearly, you can be really strategic and targeted with your messages. To learn more about creating an effective editorial calender see below.
Top Tip: Have specified time periods where you stick to communicating about just one topic. Be strict and don’t allow anyone to go off topic!
4. When it’s Really Important, Leverage Executives. Our latest research has highlighted the key benefits of channelling our messages through Executives. They are well informed, highly influential and their messages tend to have higher consumption rates than other channels.
Top Tip: In fact, the only thing you can really go wrong with is using email to convey an Executive message. Employees are likely to respond positively to an executive message delivered in every channel except email- Anything but Email!
Gartner clients can learn more here: