I’m often asked about what I do for work and to give internal communication (IC) examples as a way of explanation. This is because to someone not familiar with my areas of expertise, IC isn’t usually something that they are instantly familiar with.
When I worked in media, I found that most people ‘got’ what I did: radio announcer, magazine editor – they’re familiar. A little further explanation is required for ‘PR’ or ‘marketing’, but even these can be linked back to familiar concepts around advertising. That is, what people see on television, on billboards or in newspapers.
Internal communication though, while we eventually realise we’ve all been exposed to it at work in one form or another, sometimes isn’t a concept that’s understood immediately.
My definition of internal communication
Over the past five years I’ve predominantly spent time building a career in internal comms (IC), developing ways to engage staff in a workplace. As a graduate studying communication, media, journalism or PR, IC isn’t really a specialist area that is an obvious choice. Most of us ‘fall into’ IC.
IC appealed to me because it offered the chance to utilise my best strengths and skills. That is, my experience in digital content production and engagement tech and my interest in working with people.
IC is great because it offers a breadth of opportunity to create content, design strategy, and work with people.
For example, you might sit at a computer all day with little face to face interaction if you only write. You’ll see more about what I mean when I outline internal communication examples below.
With that said, my definition of IC is that it keeps team members informed and connected. IC is as much about sharing information as it is offering a platform for staff to feed back. IC also brings team members together through shared interests and initiatives.
Rachel Miller from All Things IC goes into great depth with information on her site.
Ultimately, she describes IC as:
“The way a company interacts with its people and they interact with it.”
5 internal communication examples to get you thinking about how to reach staff
Another way to understand what IC is, is to recognise examples of internal communication. You’ll probably recognise these from a workplace or educational institution where you’ve been recently.
Intranet: a key internal communication example
An intranet is pretty much a website for staff. As in, it’s private to the outside world, and only staff of a company can login to view its contents.
Intranets usually host important information and tools people need to do their jobs. This might include a link to the payroll system, or policies and procedures related to the roles in a workplace. Many intranets host a news feed that serves to update staff on the latest info from around the business.
Team members from IT, HR and Communications may co-manage an intranet as a whole. But in an organisation where there is an internal communications team (who might sit within the HR department or Marketing, Communications & Engagement), usually the IC team would lead on managing the news feed or any other ‘community’ element of the site.
e-newsletter or printed newsletter
I realise it might seem a little old school to be developing a newsletter today. But newsletters serve a vital purpose.
Newsletters can bring many small pieces of information together into one piece of communication. With so much ‘noise’ in the form of too many emails and messages these days, this is powerful.
A newsletter might include a lead editorial from the CEO or a department leader. It can also serve as a consistent publication that team members start to look out for.
The internal comms team or advisor can drive the schedule and content for a regular newsletter. They will often be the team (or person) behind creating something that you’ve seen published within a business setting.
Team member communities and digital social spaces
The IC team is often the driving force behind managing community spaces you’re given access to in a business.
These spaces are where you can chat with others, share ideas, or ask questions. This might be within a Microsoft community forum, Teams, through Yammer or a Facebook Group or Facebook @ Work.
The IC team is usually involved here – supporting best practice and keeping the lines of communication open for all staff.
Offline internal communication examples: digital signage, posters, flyers
Of course, there are examples of internal comms that are offline.
Not everyone is at a computer or on their phone to use an app for most of the day. We must reach those team members in a different way.
Digital signage in meeting rooms, clip frames on the back of toilet doors, or posters on noticeboards are a wonderful way to share information. These provide invaluable examples of simple, yet effective, internal comms.
Meetings, huddles, and knowledge sharing events
Finally, let’s not underestimate the power of face to face. We’re obviously adept at doing this virtually now whether via Teams, WebEx, Zoom or the like. But, whether virtually or in a physical environment, the power of IC is dialled up by bringing people together.
IC teams make the most of regular meetings in a business to share messages. We will often provide ‘talking points’ to leaders to share at their next team meeting or huddle.
These summarise the key things staff need to know about an initiative that’s being rolled out. When you spot your leaders with key points or a presentation that’s shared at an all-staff meeting, that support is likely to have come from someone facilitating IC in your company.
Do you recognise these ‘channels’ or types of content at work? Surprise!
Did you know that they’re usually facilitated by an internal comms practitioner or team?
In a nutshell, this is the type of work we do as internal comms professionals. If that sounds appealing, maybe this is the line of communication and marketing that might be perfect for you!