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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 Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“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
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