Published: 23 October 2015

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for internal comms

There are a lot of digital tools (often free) that can help with internal communications, from social media to custom built intranets. It’s tempting to think that investing in a new digital technology will be the answer to your internal communications woes. 

However, people who manage internal communications in charities know this isn’t always the case. The diversity of organisation size and activity leads to a range of experiences. Challenges vary from needing to connect with those working in the field, to factoring in the capabilities of the users. 

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to digital technology in internal communications. Organisations and the individuals within them are adopting digital at different paces and this needs to be catered for. People need to be communicated with in a style that’s relevant to them.

Increasingly, people want to consume information in the same way they do in their every day lives. Just like on popular social media platforms, polls, videos, news and blogs are some of the new ways to engage with staff. When staff are able to ‘like’ and comment on features, it not only increases engagement, but helps you track the success of a feature. 

At a recent CharityComms special interest group, participants identified three starting points for organisations to consider when rethinking their internal communications offering.

What do you want to communicate? 

It’s important to identify from the outset what the aim of a particular technology is. Do you want to inform and present information or engage and enter into a dialogue? Blogs, newsfeeds and videos were identified by many as excellent ways to convey information. A combination of channels ensures that a wider audience is reached. There are a number of technologies that have been working well for various organisations:

  • Video – short, informative videos promote authenticity and work well across various platforms
  • Intranets – they’ve long received mixed reviews, but when done well intranets are an invaluable tool for internal communication
  • Social media – needs to be taken more seriously and to move away from the notion of staff ‘mucking about on social media’. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yammer and Flickr can be used to communicate with staff in a two-way conversation
  • Video conferences – Skype for Business, Facetime and webinars have been found to be really successful and have saved time and money for travel for staff based in different geographic locations. 

Match the digital channels to the audience

It may seems obvious but often organisations will invest heavily, with budget and resource, in a platform that staff do not use. Communicate with staff through a platform they are already on. This may be a social media platform that already exists, or an intranet integrated into the existing culture of the organisation. A short survey of staff to find out what platforms they already use will ensure that you're on the right track and can help secure the budget. 

The internal communications team should work in collaboration with IT 

Technology barriers are common in organisations and many participants in the discussion cited a weak relationship with their IT department as a stumbling block when rolling out a new intranet or similar. ‘Getting a seat at the table’ with IT is essential for a successful internal digital communications strategy. 

Following an interesting discussion, the group concluded with three tips for all organisations to consider:

  1. Ensure content is updated regularly to sustain engagement and maintain momentum
  2. Patience – understand that there will need to be a culture shift and that this will not happen overnight
  3. Share and learn from others – one size does not fit all but you can learn from the experience of your peers.

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Sarah Rushworth, account manager, Agenda Consulting

Sarah joined Agenda in October 2013. She has a BA in English literature and has worked in various sales and account management positions, most recently as the sales and marketing manager for a company selling academic online resources to schools worldwide. Sarah ensures Agenda's clients get the most from their products and services.