A huge mistake in internal communication – saying only once

When you read an interesting article or new words while learning a foreign language, are you able to remember this content at once and keep it in your mind for months? It happens very rarely. And we sometimes expect from our employees not only to read an important article, but also to remember its key message immediately and to behave as we want them to do after this reading. It won’t work. Unfortunately.

Implementation of a new IC tool
While implementing a new internal communications tool, e.g. an intranet or a newsletter, we need to prepare an educational and promotional campaign for our employees. The worst option is if we inform the employees by sending, e.g. one email only with a cheerful message that we have just launched our brand-new intranet. And that’s all. Enjoy! And then you tell me stories about your employees who don’t want to use this new intranet and you ask me what to do.

Think about any popular yoghurt you like. How often do you see a commercial showing this product? Probably your answer is ‘often’ or maybe even ‘too often’. But why does the producer do that? We were told about this product many years ago, so we remember about it constantly and there is no need to repeat it all the time, we buy it without any reminders and commercials, right? No, we all know it doesn’t work like this.

And this producer of your favourite yoghurt knows that as well as all marketing people know. They all know it must be reminded constantly, at many levels, in different tools and by using different formats. They tell us all the time about the same product to encourage us to buy it. And there’re still people on this planet who don’t buy it and will never taste it. This is how commercials work. Obvious, isn’t it? Yes. This is how the external communications work. And although we often complain about too many commercials and ads around us, they still work, that’s why they are used so often and successfully. So why don’t we use this rule in our IC?  

In our internal communication world while implementing a new product on the market, e.g. an intranet for the employees (yes, it’s the same idea as the implementation of a new product on the market), we have one boom. One simple email or maybe even a campaign and we expect a miracle. Maybe there’re companies where simple communication of a new IC tool will meet with a mass enthusiasm and never-ending use. It’s possible that the employees waited for it for years and now will use it regularly, even without any encouragements from the IC team. Unfortunately, in most cases it doesn’t work like this.

IC is NOT about saying once!
If you communicate something once, it’ll be remembered by a group of the employees who had a contact with this announcement. Some of the employees won’t read it at all. Among exceptions, there’re very important topics like bonuses or other profits, when you don’t need to make any big effort to be sure all the staff finds out about it. Unfortunately, most internal communication topics don’t have such wonderful emotional power for our employees, that’s why we need to remind our employees about them.   

Especially, when our IC topic concerns changes, e.g. we would like to change our employees’ behaviours or to influence them. We all know how difficult it is to change habits in our private life, how difficult it is to stop doing something we have done for years and start doing it in a different way. So let’s not expect our employees to behave differently. Don’t expect that the IC will solve a problem by one action. Definitely, it won’t do it.

Communicating once equals very poor communications (or even I would say) equals lack of communication. Repeating, reminding chosen elements, promoting, educating – let’s write these words down into our communication dictionary of actions to do.

IC tools are like products to sell
If you’d like to continue your reading I recommend my article about being a seller in the IC and treating our communications tools like products to sell to our employees. I wrote about it for British Journal of Internal Communication (published regularly by Gatehouse agency). This article is available in the Journal (you can download the entire magazine with many interesting articles for free here – Vol. 15) or just jump into the Gatehouse’s blog here to read this article titled Treat your IC tools as internal products for sale.


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