Inspiration for improving employee communication is as close as your local newsstand.


The last time I went to Frankfurt, one of the most interesting moments I spent was standing in a bookstore looking at a rack of German consumer magazines.

Since I don’t understand German, I was fascinated by the fact that that the elements that make up an effective magazine cover—snappy headlines and an arresting image—translated even when I couldn’t understand a word.

It reminded me that inspiration for improving an intranet home page, newsletter or other employee communication channel is as close as your local newsstand. Next time you’re in the supermarket, drugstore or at the airport, take a few minutes to peruse the rack of consumer magazines.

Here are 3 things you’ll learn:

1. Consumer publications are built on the philosophy of service: To “serve” readers. The purpose of every piece of content is to help readers do something better: be happier or thinner, have a nicer house and better-behaved children, improve their golf game or lower their blood pressure, meet the perfect mate or find the ideal doctor.

2. Nobody does headlines better than the people who write cover lines (the headlines on the magazine’s cover). In every single case, the focus is on the reader, not the writer (or the writer’s boss or senior management). That’s what makes headlines like this like catnip for readers:

  • Your best marathon! Train less, run faster
  • Are standardized tests good for your child
  • 127 top travel agends and what they can do for you

3. Even the most complex topics are made simple. In the world of magazines, there’s no room for Corporate Speak, overthinking or forcing readers to spend a lot of time struggling with a lot of detail to get what they need. Magazines know that the best way to meet their audience’s needs is to make it short, sweet and simple: “5 ways to save on your taxes” or “3 ways to improve your channel by studying magazines.”

Get it? Now go out and get a magazine. 



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