July 20, 2017
There’s a great metaphor about internal comms and the staff kitchen. You know the scenario, a sink piled high with dirty cups, tea bags on the work surface, and milk dribbling down the fridge. And next to it a desperate hand-written plea to please do your bit and keep the place tidy. Yet clearly the evidence is that something isn’t working!
How people handle seeing that plea sign is interesting. Some skirt around it, some don’t see it, some say it’s not their job, and some just roll their hands up and do it. So how can companies get everyone to do their bit?
We work on many internal communications projects at Media Frontier and we know that a great piece of marketing on its own doesn’t cut it. Getting into the nitty gritty of behaviour and understanding it is at the heart of our work outputs. Many of our global clients know that the link between great internal communications campaigns and changing behaviour is the secret key to better business. We are often asked to support a digital transformation, a new way of selling, or indeed a new way of behaving. Communicating with employees to understand what it is they need to see, feel, and believe in order to get them to action behaviour change, start effective collaborations or a systems change is what is needed to deliver on what the company promises it will do externally.
We believe that change starts from within and the most effective changes happen when internal communications is given the time and creativity it deserves. We create impactful, original, and innovative messaging so that goals and targets are met and employees become an example to external stakeholders on just how business should be done.
As part of a wider internal communications toolkit, Media Frontier recently produced the “We Speak Together” decision tree video campaign for the Global Fund to help their employees better understand internal processes whilst learning to identify and report wrongdoing in the most effective way.
This was in addition to an external phase of a larger campaign called “I Speak Out Now” targeted at a wider external audience of fund recipients, partners, governments, and the general public out in the field to encourage the reporting of wrongdoing.
We spent many weeks really understanding the behaviours of employees and what it would take to communicate the desired messages to lead to a change that would be better business for the Global Fund.
Whilst for obvious privacy reasons we can’t share a great deal on all our internal communications work, we can share with you the three best practices we developed for innovative internal communications in this process: use video, be original, and incorporate gamification and storytelling. Here’s how we applied these rules of thumb to the Global Fund project:
The first best practice for innovative internal communications? Say it with a video. We let you know in a previous blog post, but lest you forget, let’s say it again… one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words (!!!). For important internal communications leave your emails, your powerpoints, your wikis, your marketing papers – in other words, all your written words – behind. None of these methods of communicating will be as effective or resonant as video. Video is engaging, memorable, shareable, and the medium through which people expect to be communicated with nowadays. It’s shareability also helps to make it time and cost effective. For some compelling video stats, check out our recent blog post 6 reasons why video should be the beating heart of your digital strategy.
We opted for an animated video to convey the We Speak Together message for the Global Fund. The message is an important one; we wanted to grab the viewer’s attention immediately with a unique, eye catching style and relay the information in an interesting, easily digestible, and engaging format.
Simply turning on a video camera and setting someone in front it isn’t going to be enough on its own to make your messaging innovative. Your video must be visually appealing to make it stand out from the crowd. If appropriate, try infusing it with a bit of humour. Consider different video techniques, locations, and animation styles, and choose one that will best convey the personality of your message. Animation offers a huge opportunity to explore unique styles but you could also collect interviews or incorporate some UGC content.
Animated videos were the clear choice for the Global Fund. It allowed us to give a more personal, character-driven perspective on the problems faced by Global Fund partners in the field, as well as depict culturally sensitive material. We created original animations and enhanced the flow of the story by originally-produced sound design.
Gamification of communications makes it rewarding for viewers to engage with your content, which also leads to high message retention. Rewards don’t have to come in the traditional form of badges or prizes, it could be as simple as creating an avenue for interacting with your content. Likewise, creating a narrative storyline will help draw viewers in and connect them to your message. Use gamification and storytelling to achieve your company goals of engagement, training, recruitment, information dissemination, etc.
Even serious messages can incorporate gamification and storytelling. In the decision tree format, viewers have the opportunity to choose how the narrative progresses at key points in the storyline. Viewers have a direct hand in the progression of the narrative and gain a deeper understanding of the risks and challenges stakeholders face in the field.