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Internal comms - how to stay honest

24/09/2013

Internal communications is an important part of how many modern businesses operate, with many firms attempting to shelve corporate jargon and adopt a more chatty, informal tone.

However, the question remains, how straight-talking should you be in your internal messages to staff?

Naturally, offering a negative slant on news affecting the company should be avoided where possible, as should deliberately critical material. However, employees can easily sniff out dishonesty or prevarication, and if internal comms is seen as simply a propaganda tool it will quickly become ineffective when it comes to driving up engagement.

Isabel Collins, head of employee engagement at Radley Yeldar, recently argued that when staff are unconvinced by the promises being made by their company, they become disillusioned - something that needs to be avoided.

Writing in Corporate Communications Magazine, she said: "Propaganda can restrict thinking and innovation, result in disillusion or resistance, reduced productivity and misinformation to customers."

How can this be avoided? According to Ms Collins, not stretching the truth - especially when it comes to big strategic decisions and major corporate moves - can help drive up engagement and keep staff on-side.

She added that avoiding reliance on the so-called 'company tone' and adopting a more personal, intimate tone can also help with encouraging personnel to believe in internal communications.

Finally, ensuring that any promises made to workers are carried out and do not clash with the external attitude of the company is important, although this is not the sole responsibility of the comms expert writing the copy.

Ingie Hovland of the Overseas Development Agency suggests that creating a strong communications strategy is reliant on a number of factors, with no one-size-fits-all approach suitable for the task.

Distilling complex data into its key points is a good way to produce clear, concise copy and engage effectively with staff, she concluded.

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