Can Internal Communicators learn from the Eurovision Song Contest?
It’s that special time of year again – for some of us, at least! Eurovision is bright and loud and crazy and fun and a bit bonkers. Whether or not you enjoy the eccentricities and the more colourful idiosyncrasies of European pop, the competition seems to grow in size, recognition and scope every year, and it remains a shining beacon of the positive power of music. This year’s “united by music” tagline couldn’t be more perfect or more apt.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that, after coming second to Ukraine at last year’s contest, we are hosting the competition this year in Liverpool on behalf of the winners who, for reasons too obvious to state, are unable to do so.
It is a really proud moment, and great opportunity, for the UK and, as someone who saw the spectacle for himself on Tuesday of this week, I can confidently report that Liverpool is doing us -and Ukraine- proud! The city looks amazing and the inside of the arena and the staging for the acts is spectacular!
But what on earth has any of this got to internal comms? Am I, as the title of this piece asks, honestly suggesting that business leaders and internal communicators could take learnings from this much-loved but often-mocked song contest.
Yup. Sure am.
And hopefully, by sharing the following eight reasons why, I’ll convince you that I’m not quite as crazy as this year’s entry from Croatia.
1. Engaging and involving employees
Eurovision's success relies on active audience participation, with viewers across the globe voting for their favourite performances. We should aim to engage and involve employees in a comparable way. We should implement interactive communication methods such as surveys, polls, and feedback mechanisms to foster engagement and make our employees feel valued and heard.
2. Storytelling and creativity
The best and most memorable Eurovision performances often incorporate storytelling and creative elements to captivate the audience. In fact, it’s often required to bridge the obvious language barriers that an international audience brings. We can borrow this approach to communicate messages effectively by utilising narratives, images, charts, infographics, and videos and other creative mediums. All of this will deliver information in an engaging and memorable manner. Eurovision songs and performances also often seek to evoke strong emotions, and to connect with the audience on a personal level. When appropriate, we should strive to create messages and content that resonate with our employees, appealing to their emotions and creating a sense of empathy and understanding.
3. Embracing diversity
Eurovision brings together participants from countries with sometimes wildly different cultures and beliefs, crossing musical genres as it goes. As internal communicators we should adopt a similar mindset by recognising and celebrating the diversity within our organisations. We should use channels and platforms that promote inclusivity and give voice to employees from every different background. Just as Eurovision actively celebrates the diverse cultures and identities of its participating countries, we should tailor our communications to be sensitive to the cultural differences within our organisations, ensuring that messages are accessible and relevant to all employees, regardless of their background or location.
4. Authenticity and originality
Eurovision encourages artists to showcase their unique style and authentic selves. We should know the importance of being genuine, authentic, and original in our communications. And we should encourage our employees to express their individuality and contribute their unique perspectives. Different experiences, viewpoints and beliefs can bring fresh perspectives, creative ideas, and new solutions to problems.
5. Collaboration and teamwork
Eurovision is not just about individual performances; it also involves collaboration among countries and artists. (Ireland and Cyprus have employed the talents of Swedish songwriters for their entries this year.) If whole countries aren’t too proud to see the advantages of utilising the skillset spread all around them, we should absolutely facilitate and encourage teamwork and collaboration by boosting cross-departmental co-operation and providing platforms for employees to share ideas and work together on projects. Encouraging employees to work together, share ideas, and support each other's initiatives can lead to innovative and impactful outcomes. A culture of collaboration also fosters a sense of unity, belonging and collective effort.
6. Celebrating success and recognising achievements
Eurovision celebrates the best performances throughout. And it’s not just about the song – the staging is recognised and celebrated just as heartily. Similarly, we must acknowledge and appreciate the successes and achievements of our employees. Regularly highlighting outstanding work, milestones, efforts and accomplishments boosts morale, motivation, and generates a sense of pride among employees. Giving our people the platform to recognise and thank each other can be particularly powerful.
7. Adaptation to change
Eurovision has evolved hugely and continually over the years to reflect changing tastes and trends in music, changing cultures and behaviours, and by embracing new technologies. We must also be adaptable and responsive to change within our organisations. We should embrace new communication tools, technologies, and techniques, stay updated with the latest trends, and be flexible in adjusting our strategies to meet the ever-evolving needs of our people and our organisations.
8. Risk-taking and innovation
Eurovision is known for its unconventional, and sometimes daring performances. Whilst not always applicable, we should also learn the value of taking calculated risks and embracing innovation in our communication strategies. By experimenting with new ideas, technologies, and approaches, we can break the mould and create employee experiences that are fresh, exciting, and ahead of the curve.
By drawing inspiration from the songs and performances at Eurovision, and the ethos of the competition itself, we can enhance our offering as communicators. We should infuse our comms with creativity, emotional connection, authenticity, and cultural sensitivity, to create more engaging and impactful experiences for our employees and to foster a stronger sense of unity and connection within our organisations.
ps Good luck, Mae Muller, for Saturday. We’ll be cheering you on, but as is the case every year, we’ll be thrilled for whoever wins and we’ll have loved the spectacle of it all. #UnitedByMusic