Much of what we do in public relations is media relations. Even in this age of direct audience interaction through social media, and despite continually shrinking newsrooms and declining dependence on traditional news sources, many of our clients still want us to develop relationships with journalists and achieve positioning for their brands through earned media placements. It’s all about presenting a positive image for our clients to the external world.
But that isn’t always so. Sometimes our communications efforts are directed to an audience made up of our peers and colleagues. They, not journalists or consumers, are our primary audience. While internal and external PR do share similar fundamentals, success as an internal communicator requires some important adaptations.
Here are four rules to follow when your primary audience is your own organization.
Make it Accessible
Defining the organization’s vision, strategy and goals is a necessity. Understanding how the organization wants to evolve at the macro level allows for the development of an internal public relations plan to help them succeed. Many times the leadership team is educated on the organization’s core values and direction, but there is a disconnect between those executives and the employees at other levels. Merging this line of communication through various means such as informative articles, online newsletters, company intranet, blogs, video tutorials and educational in-person briefings provide the opportunity to convey key messages directly to employees. If employees are engaged by the content they will absorb it, act on it and re-share the information, adding to the success of the organization.
Make it Interesting
Recognizing accomplishments at both the organizational and employee levels provides entertaining and informative content about what is going on in the enterprise. If the information is not engaging, chances are it will fall flat. Employees are more engaged in internal messaging when the subject matter directly relates to them or those with whom they interact. Highlight key personnel achievements, showcase important projects, share executive insights and profile individual departments. Applauding major successes keeps the entire organization informed on current happenings and motivates employees to continue their hard work.
Make it Count
Many internal public relations teams believe all communication is good communication. Past experience shows this is not always the best motto to follow. Bombarding executives and employees with numerous irrelevant messages just for the sake of pushing out a message, will turn them away from the content and likely not pay attention when you have something important to share. Keep messages relevant and impactful and don’t over-communicate.
Make it Work
A major benefit to internal public relations is the ability to receive quick and informative feedback from the audience. Requesting input on current messaging tools and resources provides the opportunity to continue refining messaging, updating content for relevance and creating new and unique outreach tools. Not only does input assist in the development of an internal public relations plan, but it gives employees the opportunity to be heard and boosts the relationship between organization and public relations team.
Internal public relations does not involve media, pitching or news coverage. It still involves developing a strategic public relations plan which conveys key messaging, reaches the audience, requests and incorporates feedback, and most importantly, provides exciting content.