The power of effective internal communications

woman sharing her presentation with her colleagues

As someone who has a background in internal communications and continues to work in the space from time to time at Hodges, I can bear firsthand witness to its importance.  And just as clear – how much time and effort goes into creating, implementing and maintaining an effective internal communications program.

I may be wrong, but I’ve gotten the sense over the years that those of us working on the internal side of the PR coin often do not get the same level of respect and esteem of those working on the external side – media relations, for example.  Sure, I get why this might be the case – external results often are more tangible and quantifiable and have a bigger audience.  But don’t be deceived.  Those working on interna comms deserve just as much love as their counterparts who are outward facing.  After all, communicating with internal stakeholders is every bit as important, if not more. 

Let’s start with a key metric for success that continues to grow: employee engagement.  Measuring engagement levels among staff can coincide with employee productivity, and ultimately, company profitability. And while the value of engagement is apparent, companies still struggle to maintain it, let alone increase it. In a recent Gallup survey on employee engagement, it found that “engaged” workers in the U.S., comprising of those highly involved and enthusiastic about their work and organization, had reached 38%. That number might seem small, but it’s the highest mark reached since Gallup began tracking in 2000. Even so, that leaves 62% of employees either not engaged or, worse, actively disengaged.

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Employee engagement represents the relationship between a company and its employees. As is the case with personal relationships, conflict and animosity are more apt to rear their ugly heads when there is a lack of communication. And while there’s no exact science to increasing this employee engagement, the link between engagement and effective internal communications is becoming clearer and clearer.

A well-thought-out and inclusive internal communications plan might not solve all of your engagement problems, but it’s a good first step. When thinking about your plan and where to start, don’t complicate things. Whether it’s starting a short monthly newsletter with organizational updates and staff spotlights or a bi-monthly video series with updates from the C-Suite, it doesn’t matter how big or small a step you take.  What is important is that you start! 

At The Hodges Partnership, for example, we have a number of internal communications tools in place that effectively drive engagement and collaboration. But my favorite might also be the simplest. Each week at Hodges culminates with Plays of the Week, which is a rundown of our biggest wins of the week. I mention this because even in a relatively small agency, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the amazing work that’s being accomplished by your colleagues. But with Plays of the Week, we’re able to get a glimpse into that world and celebrate each other’s successes. Not only is this a great tool for employee engagement, but it also pushes people to strive to be their best on a daily basis.

In the world of public relations and communications, there is no perfect way to do things. While there are certainly best practices, almost all practitioners have their own unique style and way of doing things. So too is the case in the realm of internal communications, and that’s important to remember when getting started. If your organization needs help getting its internal communications plan off the ground, we’re here to help.  

Evans Mandes

A graduate of VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture, Evans joined Hodges in 2018, having previously worked in communications at Capital One and interning for CarMax’s public relations team. Evans works on a diverse mix of accounts including Kroger Mid-Atlantic, Monmouth University, UnitedHealthcare, Owens & Minor, Hilldrup and First Tee.

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