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You don’t often think of internal communication as “marketing.” But you are indeed taking a message to a market; it’s just not for sale. But internal communication still needs to persuade, to influence, to inform an audience. And it needs the same 3-part focus - with strategy, creative, and distribution.
Strategy: Create a newsletter that could influence human behavior to improve safe work habits day after day. Context: A major oil refiner had an ongoing focus on the safety of employees and contractors. The company’s existing newsletter didn’t seem to connect with the audience, mostly young men in contract roles who worked as equipment operators, engineers and mechanics.
Creative: My idea was to tell personal stories about safety, while also sharing site updates and relevant data that could help tell stories about change week to week. I would spend one day each week on site, creating content and publishing this 6- to 8-page weekly newspiece before I left for the day. I would interview employees and contractors - the subject matter experts - gather photos and data, and create a draft for review by mid-afternoon. Leaders throughout the organization loved the work, which I created each week for five years - I never missed a week even through holidays and vacations.
Distribution: Field staff did not have access to computers or mobile devices, so I published this PDF newsletter to the company’s intranet, and managers would print and share at morning meetings following publication. I also shared the original Powerpoint file (yes, PPT) with managers so they could use any or all info in meetings each week.
Strategy: Teach advocates of your brand - sponsored athletes or staff spokespeople - to speak to the media with authority, credibility, and brand consistency. Wait, how is this content marketing? If you pay anyone to speak for your brand, that is marketing and they are often the content. You should train them how to interact with media. This is not just for athletes and racers. Any corporate who might someday speak with a reporter - whether on camera or on the phone - should be trained to do so. And with the prevalence of video cameras today, you should train in front of one. This is preparation for eventual crisis communication needs.
Creative: I give people the tools and skills to speak with media by training them on camera, with tactics and habits of media professionals - because I was one for years. Study brand messages, rehearse questions and answers, and practice it all on camera.
Distribution: This content is in continuous distribution. You don’t know when the media might contact you, and what the questioning might entail. Of course, with sponsored athletes or spokespeople, you have more control of the distribution timing. So contain that other variable - the person - and equip them with the necessary training to represent your brand well.