The value of a multichannel strategy to communicate effectively with employees

 

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A diverse workforce can be a challenge to reach. Depending on just one channel to communicate to employees will not work. Adopting a multichannel approach will better enable you to engage with all of your employees. To accomplish this, internal communicators need to join the dots between strategy, behaviours and technology, to improve the flow and quality of communication and collaboration.

 

First review your general communication strategy:

 

  • Do you have goals and objectives for your communications? Everything should be aligned with

your company’s business objectives. This includes general goals per campaign, and goals

relating to your internal communications.

 

  • Select the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure your success in achieving your goals. Good KPIs to review include content popularity, survey responses, take up of safety initiatives, response to change management, video views, event registrations, or an increase in intranet or social network traffic – to name a few. Match the metrics you use to measure your success to the KPIs you have selected.

 

Conduct a channel audit

 

While you are reviewing channels available to you, also take the time to identify where you need to update your channel technology (such as email and intranet) to technology that saves you time, and delivers the real-time metrics and analytics you need. Having this type of insight will help you assess the channel popularity and audience preferences.

 

Channel strengths – Take a look at the existing communication channels available to you. Understanding their strengths will help you improve how you use each channel to help you reach a diverse workforce.

 

The role of insight and measurement in your success

 

Measurement lets you understand the impact of what you’re doing. Review your access to measurement in each of your channels, and use those selected metrics to help you gain insight into your campaigns. In the selection of metrics you use, try to be consistent in your choice across each of your communication channels. By doing this you are not looking at channels in isolation – you are getting consistent insight into engagement across all channels, allowing you to make decisions based on these insights.

 

For example measure adoption and engagement, collaboration and rich media consumption (video, podcasts), and device consumption (desktop or smartphone). Collate your most influential users and top contributors, plus content, posts, pages and comment trends and popularity.

 

The future is multichannel measurement

 

Having access to individual channel metrics is the first part of your journey. To understand your channel effectiveness you need the ability to measure globally by campaign across all your channels.

 

Taking a multichannel approach – using all your channels to communicate, and measuring across your channels – will empower you to improve your communications going forward and show real business impact to stakeholders.

 

Newsweaver has compiled a PDF that includes insight from a number of communication experts, providing insight into key issues facing communicators right now. Internal Communication today – Insight from the inside

Leadership and communication lessons from the Apprentice

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In business, securing revenue is key, so this week we saw the focus sharply put on the sharp end of business: sales. The task was simple: sell. Pet products, at a pet show. Cue loads of bad puns.

What not to wear

The first lesson we learned about sales was about matching how you dress to your audience. We saw, possibly for the first time ever, the entire gaggle of wannabes…  without ties! Even Claude Littner treated us to an unbuttoned collar.

If you want to build a connection to your audience, and be seen as a credible connector, then dressing in the right way is key.

Know your market

It is important to do your market research and know your market: so you can identify key focus areas and be credible when you sell. When you are doing your stakeholder analysis, then try to be more insightful than this gem of an insight:

“T-shirts are for humans”, and “In London there is quite a high force of cat lovers”. 

Communicators who limit their stakeholder to this level of analysis are unlikely to make the impact they need to.

“We shouldn’t just jump in and talk about price. We need to build a rapport first.”

 

Communicators can’t be trusted advisors without building trust.

 

Clear and incisive decision-making

Your credibility as a leader wins or loses by your capability to have confidence in your own decisions. Of course team input is vital, but indecisiveness gets you nowhere.

Witness this series of statements from the leader of the losing team:

Team member 1: “The two products for me could be the poop bags and the t-shirts.”

Leader: “I was thinking exactly the same thing….[two minutes later] … I definitely think the heat pads and the balloons are the best products for us … [another two minutes later] … I don’t want to hear any more about balloons, we’re going to go for the heat pads and the cat tray.”

 

Sales & Communication Skills

There is an on-going discussion in The Apprentice about the importance of sales skills. This is always high up on Lord Sugar’s agenda, but today we learned three important lessons about those skills in practice.

First: we saw a couple of people nominating themselves as team leader on the ground that they were good sales people. No, no, no. The skills for team leadership and sales are completely different: putting your best sales person as the sales leader creates two problems: 1) you lose a great sales person, and 2) you risk having a poor leader. As Ruth said, “put your best sales on your best opportunities”.

Ditto communications: being the best communicator or the best at media relations, or the best social media expert, doesn’t necessarily make you the best Director or Manager. Indeed, the guy who claimed he was the best sales manager turned out to be the losing project manager: “you put the wrong people in the wrong place, and not being able to assess what people can do, is bad news in business terms”.

Second: despite the importance of sales skills, Lord Sugar has been known to forgive the occasional sales “duck” (ie zero sales) – especially if the candidate has other skills. However, if you define your main skill as a Sales Trainer, as Ruth did, then surely you need to pace set and demonstrate those skills in practice. Her technique, according to Lord Sugar was “talk talk talk”. I’ve written separately here about the power of listening. Two ears, one mouth: we all know the maths.

Third: back to stakeholder analysis. Witness this exchange:

Ruth:           I don’t think we talked to enough people. I know we’re being criticised for talking to too many people.

Claude:      You’ve got to get rid of the people who can’t pay.

Ruth:           What do you want to say to them? “Please can you just go away?”

Lord Sugar: Yes. Bottom line? “You’ve got no money, sod off.”

In sales, as in communications, it is important to work out who your key audiences (or potential customers) and invest your resources in the right areas.

 

So what else did we learn from the Apprentice this week?

  1. Male candidates are able to get dressed without putting ties on.
  2. People will spend up to £700 on pet accessories.
  3. Animal balloons!!!!!!!

Leadership communications at EuroComm

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It is often said that you cannot lead if you cannot communicate. But, as Björn Edlund points out, it is also true that you cannot communicate with impact unless you can lead. He asks:

  • What is communications leadership?
  • What are the traits of a successful communications leader?
  • Is the function different to how its leaders need to behave in order to galvanize their teams, as well as their C suite colleagues?

Here’s his opening keynote at EuroComm 2015, the conference for members in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa of IABC, the International Association  of Business Communicators.

Björn Edlund shares experiences from nearly 20 years as Chief Communications Officer in three multinational corporations, working for 11 CEOs through external and self-created crises and deep corporate transformations.


At the heart of much of the discussion at day 1 of the IABC’s EuroComm Conference in London was the changing nature of the environment in which communicators are working.

Not only is technology changing, and the expectations of executive teams, but the nature of communicators’ expectations of their senior managers is also developing.

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Are communicators natural players in the C suite?

Björn Edlund, formerly of Royal Dutch Shell and now a communications consultant and owner of Edlund Consulting, believes that communicators must be respected as a valid member of the C Suite in organisations.

“We must be, in order to be effective. And we ought to be, because at its most ambitious, public relations is truly and completely about how to lead. It starts by helping our C Suite colleagues find the words and imagery – the narrative – that best express their strategic intent.”

Mr Edlund referenced one of the key themes that cropped up several times during the Eurocomm conference – the matter of trust, and its importance for communicators:

“A facilitator leads through competence and inclusion, often the best way for a functional expert to wield power. Trust will enable you to nudge the rest of the C Suite team along in a shared direction.”

How do we help leaders lead?

It’s simple enough to outline how we need to act within organisations – support leaders in their messaging, engagement and communications – but how does one move tactical work to a strategic level?

The starting point is to see the value of your involvement. As Björn Edlund puts it:

“It is the No. 1 job of PR to help business leaders recognize and meet a deep-seated human need, of both individuals and groups, to be included, inspired, engaged and rallied towards a common goal. It is our job to lead C suite discussions away from the false certainty and comfort of Excel spread sheets, customer analyses and market projections to thorny explorations of distrust, dissent, conflict and controversy – of why people and communities may be closing not only their doors, but also their hearts and minds – and their wallets – to us, and how to engage them constructively – ideally on their terms.”

CEO as storyteller

Björn Edlund referenced a seminal time in his working career, at ABB in a time of great crisis, when he was reporting to CEO Jürgen Dormann in 2002.

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Coaching Body Language in the C-Suite

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The senior vice president of a Fortune 500 company is speaking at a corporate communication conference. He’s a polished presenter with an impressive selection of organizational “war stories” delivered with a charming, self-deprecating sense of humor. The audience likes him. They like him a lot.

Then, as he finishes his comments, he folds his arms across his chest and says, “I’m open for questions. Please, ask me anything.”

Suddenly, there is a shift of energy in the room – from engagement to uncertainty. The audience that was so attentive only moments ago is now somehow disconnected and unable to think of anything to ask.

I was at that event. As one of the presenters scheduled to follow the executive, I was seated at a table onstage with a clear view of the entire room. And the minute I saw that single gesture, I knew exactly how the audience would react.

Later I talked with the speaker (who didn’t realize he’d crossed his arms) and interviewed members of the audience (none of whom recalled the gesture, but all of whom remembered struggling to come up with a question).

So what happened – how could a simple arm movement that none of the participants were even aware of have had such a potent impact?
And what does this mean to the executives you coach?

In preparing for an important meeting most executives concentrate on what to say, memorizing crucial points, and rehearsing their presentation so they will come across as credible and convincing.

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How to present as a CEO

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When CEOs stand up and talk, they have the power to lift or lower the mood of their audiences. Too often, they lower it. Sometimes they even alarm or alienate people. This is not, of course, their intention. But it happens when they misunderstand some of the basic ground rules about communication. In this article I’m going to share ten top tips to help the world’s CEOs spread more light, understanding and engagement when they speak inside or outside their organisations.

1) Think about the audience

This sounds obvious, but too many CEOs prepare generic speeches and presentations that they give to many different audiences in many different places. Before writing or assembling a presentation, ask yourself first of all how your audience are likely to receive it. Will it contain information which is new to them? Will they benefit from hearing it? If so, how? Do you want them to do or think something different as a result of hearing you speak? If not, there’s probably no point delivering your presentation.

2) Build a bridge

As the salesmen say, people buy people first. In other words, before accepting your product, advice, information or point of view, they make a judgment, often subconscious, on whether they accept you as the kind of person they listen to – whether they like you, trust you, admit you to their group, find you interesting, funny, authoritative and all the rest. All in the blink of an eye. So start your presentation with something that (a) they can relate to and (b) says something about you. The words you say may be trivial – a joke, a pleasantry, a story, a compliment to the host – but they must signal that you deserve their attention, and that what you are about to say has something in it for them.

3) Keep it simple

The best and most intelligent writing can be understood by primary (elementary) school pupils. Long words, convoluted sentences and jargon only confuse. It is actually harder to write simply, but it repays the effort. And the simpler your language, the more people you will reach. Don’t patronise, but don’t assume too much knowledge of, or interest in, your specialist subject. Avoid subordinate clauses, in-jokes and humour based on language or cultural assumptions.

4) Structure your presentation

Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em. Don’t labour this. However, the audience will feel more comfortable if your presentation has a beginning, a middle and an end, and both you and they know where you have got to in the structure. It’s best to schedule questions after the body of your presentation but before the very end. Give a time limit for questions and remain in control. After questions, end on something uplifting.

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