Employee Engagement and Internal & External Communications

Once all the strategy work is done, it’s down to actually making it happen and this is generally where things go wrong. The reasons why are endless and quite boring, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. As a communications expert, I’ve been around the block often enough to know how to get things done and guarantee that you’ll be bowled over with the above and beyond service!

Internal Corporate Communications

Companies generally communicate either too little or too much with employees and the end result of both approaches is a disengaged workforce. Tomes have been written on the perils of disengagement and you may well be seeing first hand in your business how destructive this is to shareholder value.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet, no magic employee newsletter template that will solve the problem. You have to do the hard – long term – work on building and nurturing a company culture that reflects your brand values and your corporate communication purpose in order to create the fertile ground upon which internal communications can function effectively. It’s a Shovel can guide you on this journey using the latest and greatest global thinking to craft an internal corporate communication strategy that works for you and your employees.

Employee Engagement 2.o

Fellow SABMiller Alumni and Head of Talent Management, Vanessa Crawford, and I have developed a ground-breaking new model for employee engagement which combines the body of psychological theory, including take outs from neuro-science and behavioural economics, with key insights from communications research and the latest communications trends.

The Employee Engagement 2.0 model proposes a solution for the current dire state of engagement and prepares companies to drive engagement in the looming ‘future of work’ scenario.

For too long, HR and communications practitioners have lived in separate silos. Only by fully integrating can they jointly deliver to the business what it ultimately asks of them – highly productive and engaged employees delivering value to all stakeholders.

If you are utilising traditional engagement initiatives, you are likely seeing improved morale but no bottom line differences.  Employee Engagement 2.0 turns the kaleidoscope to drive a more results-oriented perspective – which is what our businesses have been asking for.  We utilise psychological theory to understand individual motivation and the latest communications research and trends to build the culture and scale required to drive performance.

But unlocking productivity is not only about finally understanding HOW engagement works, it is also about understanding that driving engagement is an iterative process:  Engagement drives engagement.  That is, only deeply committed employees can model and lead engagement.

External Communications

How long is a piece of string? How long is your value chain? How complex are the relationships you need to manage? The breadth and depth of your external communications plan will depend on your business objectives and It’s a Shovel can provide the full gambit of communications services.

I will help you craft your key messages, segment your target audience, determine the best channel strategy and develop your content strategy to ensure that you achieve your business objectives.

Broadly speaking, your external communications efforts will fall into three main categories – paid (through the line advertising), owned (digital and social) and earned (traditional “PR”, stakeholder engagement and 3rd party advocacy).

Stakeholder Mapping and Engagement

An oft overlooked aspect of strategic external communications is good old fashioned one-on-one stakeholder engagement. Many large corporates have the benefit of fully staffed Corporate Affairs teams, but for smaller businesses, this is often left to the CEO. Some relationships are obvious but with a holistic strategic approach to communications, It’s a Shovel can assist with developing a stakeholder heat map and implementing an engagement agenda to support the Chief Executive with these efforts.

Content Strategy and Execution

Each cog of the external communications strategy is important, but even more important is the quality of the content disseminated and this does not just refer to the money spent on production. You need to have real news, interesting information that is relevant, timely and resonant with your audience. And yes, it does need professional production, but strategic content trumps pretty content. It needs to be both.

Finding those stories, helping you to package them and creating the conversation with your stakeholders is at the heart of what It’s a Shovel will do for you.

<h3″>Channel Selection and Roll Out

Different stakeholders consume media in different ways and different channels are suited to different messages so determining which channels to use when is a crucial part of the overall strategic planning process. Most companies nowadays have existing social media and digital platforms and I will conduct an overall review of each channel to determine what’s working and what’s not.

Paid Media Strategy

Depending on the overall objectives, at this point of the strategic planning, we may need to consider a paid media strategy to support the different platforms and to achieve the reach and awareness potentially required for key messages. This strategy would consider the full ’through the line’ spectrum of advertising but include only the elements that would be most effective given the objectives and budget available.

Without a doubt, though some level of investment will be required in search engine optimisation (SEO) and It’s a Shovel will assist you in this sometimes daunting process using my preferred supplier who has a superb track record in this space.

Traditional Media Relations

The lines between traditional PR, or media relations, and digital PR are now so blurred as to be basically meaningless, but nonetheless, at times it is worth calling them out separately. Helping you build relationships with key journalists in your space (your media strategy) is the traditional job of the PR professional, however, in most cases, I find that business executives generally have these relationships in place already. So the value I bring to the table is to help build on those relationships and to help ‘translate’ the business’ stories into the sort of content that is useful and valuable to the media.

No agency can guarantee coverage, however, by taking a strategic approach to building media relations and by taking the time to properly develop and package appropriate content, It’s a Shovel will help you get the exposure you want and not get the exposure you don’t want.

Social Media and Digital PR

Your online presence is more important than it has ever been before and this trend is only amplifying as the developing world gets connected. Creating and curating your digital eco system should be one of your key focus areas and is certainly one of my personal strengths. Your online reputation is also, I am afraid, one of the most sensitive aspects of your overall reputation simply by virtue of the medium so careful planning, active monitoring, strategic content and an authentic online personality are critical.

Policies and Frameworks for External Communications

Given the highly sensitive nature of the online world and the dramatic legal consequences that can flow from poorly managed pages it is imperative that every company has a policy on how employees may or may not represent the company on social media and even more broadly on how they are expected to behave online even within their personal capacities. In addition, your marketing teams will need a framework on what is and isn’t acceptable online depending on your industry and products. It’s a Shovel can help you put these together as well as advise on how to roll them out and educate staff correctly.