Top ten tips: Helen Gill on internal communications for SMEs

Helen Gill, founding director at marketing agency Engage Comms, on internal communications for SMEs.
Helen Gill - founding director at Engage Comms.Helen Gill - founding director at Engage Comms.
Helen Gill - founding director at Engage Comms.

1: Strategic, well managed and professionally executed internal communications is not just for very large organisations. In fact, it’s arguably more important that everyone at a high growth, ambitious SME is ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.

2: Internal communications shouldn’t work in isolation from external branding and marketing. In the digital age, transparency is more important than ever – organisations have to be what they say they are.

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3: Internal comms needs to be managed and delivered by comms experts who have an influence at board level, but it’s the responsibility of everyone in the organisation to make it work. It can’t be imposed upon them; you need to create a workforce of storytellers who are forthcoming with content and ideas and understand the business case.

4: Authenticity is key, not just for keeping existing employees engaged, but also for attracting and recruiting new talent, and for engaging and building reputation with customers.

5: Gathering meaningful insight from your existing colleagues and wider stakeholders up front is the only way to make a real long-term difference to your internal communications. It will only work if people feel like they helped to shape and define it.

6: Employee engagement doesn’t necessarily come from big creative campaigns; it needs to be simple, clear, consistent and easy for everyone to access and engage with through channels they’re already using as part of their day to day roles​.

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7: Internal comms professionals can get caught up in what intranet platform to use or what new digital channel they can maximise, but this isn’t the point. The strategy and content should come first.

8: Internal comms needs to be tailored for different audiences. Some people will be at desks with easy access to email and devices that they can watch video content on, others may be out on a building site where the only way to reach them is via posters and big screens.

9: Once you start linking internal communications to the ‘bottom line’ and demonstrating its impact, it goes from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘business critical’ strategic management function.

10: Internal comms needs to be measurable. It must have clear objectives and be regularly evaluated, not just in terms of its long term impact on growth and business performance, but also on cost savings and mitigation of issues.