Imagine that you’re a new employee at your company. You’re getting acclimated, figuring stuff out, when a newsletter appears in your inbox. It’s something from the company, that’s clear, so you open it, but you can’t figure the darn thing out:
- What’s the focus of this publication?
- Why are you receiving it?
- What’s in it for you?
Unfortunately, this is a common experience for employees—even those with long tenure. An internal communication publication arrives unbidden. Its purpose is not explicitly stated. Employees can’t distinguish between this publication (corporate?) and others they receive from the division, HR, the safety department or IT.
In short, employees don’t know what the publication is for, and what they’re should do with it. So they respond the way people always do when communication doesn’t make sense—they ignore it or delete it.
The problem most often occurs when communicators assume employees know why your publication exists—and why they should read it. But we often learn through surveys and focus groups that employees are fuzzy about what channels are available and how one channel is different from another.
What should you do to counteract this phenomenon? Here are 3 suggestions:
- Make sure you’re clear about the publication’s objectives—and that everyone who contributes content knows what the publication is intended to accomplish. And then make sure that you stay true to your mission. One of my clients created a terrific e-newsletter that was designed to inform employees about events and deadlines that were coming up. But then the editors started including lots of other content. So the publication became a mix of stuff and employees grew confused about why the publication existed.
- State the publication’s purpose right up front. Your publication has a name, but it also needs a very explicit description, preferably right in the masthead. Although being lyrical is nice (“All the news that’s fit to print”), what works even better is to be crystal clear: “The weekly newsletter for Acme employees.”
- Promote your publication on an ongoing basis. A marketing guru once told me, “If you don’t sell it, busy people won’t buy it.” Don’t assume that just because you’ve worked hard to create your publication that employees will pay attention. Instead, promote the publication in a variety of ways. For example, use other channels to tease interesting content. Provide endorsement quotes from real employees. If your publication wins an award, share the good news.
Give your publication the attention it deserves, and employees are more likely to see why they should read it.