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Connecting with Internal Audiences Using External Comms Techniques

Three coworkers speaking in a hall about communications strategies.

Generally speaking, government agencies do a pretty good job of sharing their messages with the public. Think about the safe driving campaigns run by transportation agencies, the Amber alerts issued by local law enforcement, the DEA’s anti-drug use efforts, or the National Weather Service’s alerts for floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

The same cannot always be said for government agencies’ internal communications efforts.

Too often, agencies overlook the need to connect with their own employees by delivering clear, concise, and engaging messages. Rather, internal communications tend to focus mostly on mundane topics such as HR policy updates or filing deadlines.

This is a missed opportunity.

A focused internal communications strategy can bolster morale, engage employees, build a cohesive team and culture, and ensure all employees are aligned on achieving the agency’s mission. A clearly defined internal communications strategy is vital to the long-term success of any government agency.

Who should own internal comms?

Perhaps the biggest challenge agencies face in addressing internal communication strategies is the question of who handles internal communications.

Because internal communications are directed toward employees, responsibility is often assigned to the human resources team. But while HR professionals are well versed in employment laws, recruiting, and workplace issues, they are not professional communicators.

Your external communications team is.

By putting seasoned communicators in charge – in partnership with the HR team – agency leadership can reach employees with effective messages.

Here’s why you should consider this approach: Your communications team is comprised of experts in communications strategy, planning, and editorial calendars. They know what news is going out publicly and when, as well as which channels are best for different audiences. This knowledge can be a huge boon for your internal communications efforts and can help guarantee that the right message goes out in the right manner and at the right time.

How a message is crafted is as much an artform as it is a science. Communicators are fluent in this. They consider the audience’s knowledge, beliefs, and perceptions and adjust the tone to match.

For example, a spotlight on an individual employee or team can be lighthearted and fun. In contrast, major policy updates, reorganizations, and leadership changes should be communicated with transparency and empathy. Much of the work of internal comms requires a deft touch. Missing the mark risks putting people off.

Expand your channel options

Your communications team also knows the best ways to reach people.

Too often, internal communications strategies rely on email as the sole method of communication. Yes, email is quick and convenient. But it’s often not the most effective way to share news and information. Your employees’ inboxes are overflowing already. Another email is unlikely to capture – let alone hold – their attention to the end.

Intranets, staff meetings, presentations, and video are other great avenues for connecting with staff and enriching internal comms with a human component. Just using these channels isn’t enough, though. Each one comes with advantages and pitfalls, and it takes an experienced communicator to optimize tactics for maximum reach and impact.

Social media, which is predominantly used for external efforts, is a particularly interesting option for internal communications. It’s a great avenue for sharing interesting, employee-focused content, and when done right, gives your employees the option to share and amplify that content. Social outlets are where most employees get up-to-date information about topics professional and personal, so use it. Unless your systems block it, your employees are probably checking their social feeds at work.

Your external communications team members will not only be able to help marry your message to the right channel, they can also help ensure you get the timing right. Whenever possible, internal audiences should be briefed before public announcements – unless that’s not possible due to regulations. Providing employees with information in advance helps them feel engaged and in the loop.

Turning employees into brand ambassadors

Finally, your external communications team is responsible for managing and maintaining your brand. Bringing them in to help guide and manage your internal communications efforts gives you an opportunity to reinforce your brand internally.

Remember, your employees are at the forefront of your agency’s interactions with citizens and other stakeholders. Investing time in making sure they understand your brand and the messages you want to convey publicly will pay off quickly. Well-informed and engaged employees are the best possible ambassadors you can have to promote a positive perception of your agency.

At Spire, we know how hard government and public sector employees work each day to better the world. Make sure you are taking the time to share that good work through your external and internal communications.

If you’re ready to enhance employee engagement through internal communications, check out our comprehensive services and let our seasoned communicators help transform your organization into a true community.

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