Internal communications within a company can strengthen the effectiveness of an organization’s corporate citizenship efforts. It can be a challenge for corporate citizenship departments to balance the needs and the expectations for overall communication strategies, especially when there seems to be a tug of war between external and internal communications. During our recent webinar, entitled, “Getting the Message Straight: Internal Communication Fixes,” the conversation highlighted three corporate citizenship professionals who have worked through communication challenges to find the right balance of both work and reward. The Center was joined by Paige Bennett, leader of Internal/External Communications for Corporate Responsibility Communications at Dell, Danielle Dupre, of the Adidas Group’s global Internal Communications team, and Linda Qian, CSR Communication Manager for Intel, who shared their experiences on how they approach these complex relationships in order to maximize value.
Dell’s internal communication strategy underlines the need for finding a balance between the large amount of positive content at the internal communication department’s disposal and the need to streamline the amount of communications that team members receive daily. Paige notes that if employees feel overwhelmed by volume of communications they receive, the effectiveness of the content can be greatly reduced. Dell believes that CSR can be brought to life through team members who are given a clear “call to action” through the company’s internal communications. This perspective highlights the capabilities that internal CSR communication play in executing business strategy.
Reebok, the Canton, MA based division of the Adidas Group, employs a similar approach, believing that too many messages can throw off the communication strategy. Danielle highlighted the importance of avoiding what she called the “captive audience trap,” and instead advocates viewing the priorities and interests of the target audience. She says that both customized and incentivized communications reduce the likelihood of creating this “captive audience” and are more likely to create more effective and engaging internal results.
Dell recently unveiled their new “We Recycle” program to reduce solid waste in order to become a more environmentally friendly and sustainable brand. Paige Bennett cited that the most effective of Dell’s internal communications was a blog post written on behalf of the Vice President of Corporate Services. The post explained not only the coming changes to the workforce as a result of this program, but also why “We Recycle” was important to him and how he believed it would help the company’s long-term success. She said the post created a high level of interest among employees who read and commented on it because the post was personal, candid, and genuine. Linda recognized that there are always going to be people who disagree with your communication, but stressed the importance of embracing and handling opposition with honest and transparent communication.
As Linda Qian, CSR Communication Manager for Intel summarized, “For internal projects, you have an inherent advantage. You’re all playing for the same team with the same end goal in mind, your company’s success. If you can communicate how your project will help your company, it can make a world of difference.”
Our speakers left us with a few key takeaways:
- Verify that all internal communications align with overall CSR strategy for consistency and to ensure the success of your program
- Recognize the internal communication needs and challenges of your employees
- Embrace the power of your team members as advocates who can bring your message to life and make it their own
- Present a clear “call to action” in communication to encourage a “bringing our purpose to life” mindset
- Present clear, focused and streamlined communications to avoid overwhelming and de-engaging employees
Opposition is inevitable, but if you are prepared to embrace and address it in an open and transparent way, opponents can be turned into advocates. To view this webinar and all of our archived webinars please visit our website.