Engage employees in internal communication by leveraging tricks from the world of advertising.


I’m very glad I don’t work in marketing; it’s a jungle out there. But while marketers are hacking through the heavy undergrowth, trying to solve tough problems like the growth of mobile and abandoned shopping carts and unwiring TV and where social is going next, I can sit on the sidelines and learn from their techniques and apply them to what I do (internal communication, of course).

For example, here are 3 quick tips I picked up just today (from some smart marketing blogs) about writing content for emails, newsletters and the intranet:

1. Number headlines/subject lines are still incredibly effective. In fact, they’re the most surefire way to stop audience members in their tracks. Employee communicators don’t use number headlines nearly enough. But they’re actually pretty easy:

  • 5 easy steps to completing open enrollment
  • 7 things our CEO would like you to know about our biggest customers
  • 13 ways we’re improving customer service

2. “How to” headlines appeal, too. That’s because the information employees crave most is content that helps them do something better. In this category, marketers have learned from consumer magazines, which are all about self-improvement. See how you can transform dull stuff into compelling content:

  • How to set stronger performance objectives
  • How Suzy Smith dramatically improved her team’s productivity
  • Save time and budget by using IT’s new help desk app

3. Wacky works. You may work for a conservative, boring organization—but that doesn’t mean you can’t inject a little playfulness, especially in an innocuous place like a subject line or headline. Email expert Emma advises experimenting with subject lines that are more teaser than explanation. Here are my internal communication suggestions:

  • The one thing you may not know about your laptop
  • Wait; there’s more! An offer you really shouldn’t miss
  • What do Jennifer Anniston and our CFO have in common?

I think you get the picture. The same old approach isn’t going to cut it in today’s competitive marketplace/workplace. So it’s worth trying something different to get employees’ attention.

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