I’ve written a couple of times about the benefits of creativity within your internal comms, and how we can try to train ourselves to be more creative, so this week, I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is (makes a change from stuffing leftover birthday cake into it!) and share a few creative ideas that could pique the interest of even your most jaded employees.
I know that internal comms budgets are often tight (to say the least), time can be precious, and the intended audiences are not always wholly receptive to any “corporate messaging”, but there are a few unordinary things that can be done when something extra is required.
1. Reaction Action
A flick through YouTube will reveal a growing trend for reaction videos. The younger generations, in particular, seem fascinated by watching how other ordinary folk react to things when they see or hear them for the first time. I guess it’s an extension of the Gogglebox phenomenon. (If I was pitching TV show concepts to a board of producers, I doubt I’d have started with “let’s watch people watching telly”, but it’s hugely popular and successful. This is probably why I don’t work in TV!)
Anyway, this is a concept that is relatively easy and inexpensive to translate to your internal comms. If you have a new product to launch, a new building opening, or a renovation or refit completed, why not film the authentic reactions of the first few who are able to see it and share their reactions as a teaser campaign or for general promotion? It doesn’t even need to be a tangible product or place that’s generating the reaction – if you’re about to launch a new employee scheme or way of working that you think will wow the people, then capture the wow! Sharing the footage via your internal comms channels is bound to generate more of a buzz amongst your audience than an emailed announcement. If it’s a major launch, you could compile something a little grander and make an even bigger splash!
2. Build Some Mystery
This would really work with the “Reaction Action” suggestion above. What if, at first, your people don’t know what their colleagues are reacting to, just that they look like they're loving it?
Now, I’ve often talked about the importance of transparency within internal comms, and I stand by that, but there are times when teasing your people with limited details can build mystery, tension and, therefore, intrigue in something. A “coming soon” here and a “watch this space” there, with subtle clues as to the big reveal, can really get your people talking and ensure their buy-in to your announcement. A countdown to the reveal can amplify this further. And the subtle clues? It could be hard-to-decipher close-ups of your new product, a bit of a new logo for a scheme, a cryptic clue about what’s coming, or a couple of those employee reactions you filmed! (Just make sure you’ve chosen those that can be trusted to keep schtum for those reaction videos!)
3. Game for Some Gamification?
An extension, perhaps, of the above? Some hugely successful marketing campaigns have used an element of gamification, such as Nike’s Kobe 11 treasure hunt at the end of 2015, and similar tactics can be applied to an internal comms teaser campaign to keep your people on their toes (literally, on some occasions!).
It’s relatively easy to set up a treasure hunt either physically around your place of work, or digitally, by hiding clues and instructions on the pages of your intranet or social platforms. (The digital option is preferable if you have substantial parts of your workforce working remotely.) Prizes could be vouchers, an extra day’s holiday, away days, or whatever works with your teams. And this can be a great way of getting your teams to work together to be first to the prize and the big reveal of your news!
If that sounds like too much hard work, quizzes, crosswords or picture clues can all be used to hide your announcement and build the interest of your people in the news you have to share.
4. It’s Story Time
Storytelling has been a hugely successful and important part of good internal comms for quite some time. People are more invested in something that tells them a story, that triggers their emotions or somehow inspires them.
Often, the story element is the people element. People relate more to other people than they do to numbers. So, if you have great news to share about a major new account or an award win, focus the comms on the people behind the win. Consider dropping the usual corporate announcement comms in favour of an interview piece with the people who made it happen. It humanises the win for the business and makes it so much more relatable. It can also inspire the audience to want to do the same.
5. People Power
Ever thought of using some of your frontline people to tell your story or write your news? I’m not trying to talk your comms people out of their jobs here, but, on occasion, your employees may be able to bring something new and different to your internal comms.
We all know the power of the recommendation – and this is even more potent when the recommendation is from friends, family, or colleagues. (The Nielsen Group found that 83% of people in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of those they know.) As with the reaction concept, getting your employees to review your new product or scheme, or feedback on whatever you are launching, can be a powerful promotional tool. And as with the Story Time example above, an informal blog or casual review style piece from their peers may make a welcome and marked change from the more usual top-down comms or corporate messaging.
Not every piece of comms needs to be creative and different. In fact, by definition, you need to have some business-as-usual comms that, whilst still engaging, don’t necessarily stand out from the crowd. But when you have a significant announcement to make, something to shout about, when the comms piece is more campaign than routine, this is when a little creativity, a little forward-thinking and planning, and due care and consideration given to the execution, should pay off in spades.