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Make the Grade this Groundhog Day 

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Make the Grade this Groundhog Day 

As our American cousins celebrate Groundhog Day on 2 February, we were inspired to pull together our top tips to help communicators who are stuck in a rut with their internal communications.

Ever had a Bill Murray moment where you feel trapped in a never-ending cycle with your internal communications?

We’ve all been there. We work our socks off to deliver impactful internal communications, but time and time again we get the same result, and not the one we wanted.

So, if you’re stuck in a rut with your internal comms, it’s time to think differently about your approach…

Have you set the right objectives?

Sometimes projects and campaigns fall flat because the right objectives weren’t set to begin with, or in some cases, weren’t set at all.
Review why you communicated this. Was it realistic? Was it measurable? Did they address the problem you were trying to solve (if there was one)?

Ensure your objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) and support the organisation’s strategic objectives. Check back regularly and ensure you’re still on track and haven’t veered off on a tangent all in the name of creativity.

You can have the most creative, whizzy campaign but if it’s not grounded in strategic thinking, you’re unlikely to see the results you want.

Speak to your people

Consider running focus groups to understand why things aren’t landing the way you hoped. It’s a great opportunity to get context and to better understand what people want from their internal communications.

It’s important to leave egos at the door and be open to listening to what your employees have to say and resist the urge to justify or defend the decisions you made. You also need to be prepared to make changes to your approach based on the feedback, else people won’t rush to share their thoughts and ideas with you again.

Is leadership on board?

Often people need to see an example set by leadership before they will change their behaviour.
Have you engaged leaders with your campaign or project in a way that helps them to understand what you’re trying to achieve, how it will support the business and why their endorsement could be very powerful?

Provide them with the key highlights of your campaign rather than lots of detail and be really clear on what you need them to do and why.

Apply some nudge theory

If you’re trying to influence or change behaviour, consider applying some nudge theory. It’s basically what it sounds like, nudging people to do certain behaviours. It’s worth reading up on it as there are ethical considerations; a good place to start is The Nudge Unit by David Halpern.

A great example of nudge theory is when car company Volkswagen decided to encourage people to exercise more by painting the stairs in a subway station in Stockholm like the keys of a piano. They added pressure pads that played a musical note when stepped on and found that 66% more people than normal chose to take the stairs.

Get inspiration from other departments

Are there other departments that are currently riding high on a wave of success? If so, go chat with them and understand the approach they took.

They might have tips about how to appeal to certain stakeholders, have access to data that can inform your approach, processes and approaches you could use.

And if you’re nervous about admitting things aren’t going so well, have a think about what advice you can offer them in return. The great thing about internal communicators is that we have many strings to our bow, and no doubt at least one of them will be of interest to colleagues in other departments.

Look at award winning case studies

In our profession we’re very good at shining a light on best practice. There’s lots of industry awards that recognise internal comms teams and projects, plus many of them publish case studies after.

It’s always worth looking around you to see how internal comms peers overcame challenges and had a real measurable impact on their organisations. Lots of internal communicators blog so there’s a wealth of best practice examples available for you to learn from. You don’t have to come up with everything yourself.

We also have a really strong internal comms network with people more than happy to share experiences and give advice, so get stuck in to the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn, and at events.

Don’t be afraid to fail

Failure doesn’t have to be all bad. Turn it into a positive by learning from what didn’t go so well and applying those learnings to your next campaign or project.

Sometimes we need to step outside of our comfort zone and dare to try something different. It can feel like the stakes are high, especially if everything you’ve delivered so far hasn’t quite hit the mark.

But being creative and trying something new can still be done in a realistic way. Always have a strategy behind your creative campaign – clarity on its purpose, audience, channels and how it will be measured.

It’s now time to wake up from your own Groundhog Day and to start afresh. Having a real impact through internal communication is extremely possible, but sometimes you have to take stock and look at things a different way. Let us know your top tips for getting out of a rut and what difference it made to your internal comms and the wider organisation.

By Helen Deverell for Alive with Ideas

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha — Tata Consultancy Services

“So glad that we chose Alive to create our new website. As well as taking the time to get the visual side of our requirement right, they worked with us to understand us, our business and our clients and reflect this across the site. We loved their flexible approach, which, coupled with the right level of challenge has replaced our old, clunky site with one we can be proud of. ”

Victoria Ford — Perago

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q