Skip to main content

Blog

Stop right now (thank you very much)!

< Blog home

Stop right now (thank you very much)!

The top five things internal communicators need to stop doing…right now.

Internal communications has come a long way, but we still haven’t quite got everything right. It’s not uncommon to find an internal communicator playing photographer for the day at the staff conference, editing images in photoshop, or sorting through all the entries for the latest employee competition.

Communication has never been more important, and leaders are looking to us to step up and lead the way. But to do that successfully, we need to stop doing certain things that aren’t adding any value or furthering our reputation.

So, here are the top five things we think internal communicators need to stop doing right now. What would you add to this list?

  1. Stop saying yes to everything

Be clear on what it means to be an internal communicator within your organisation and stick to it. Yes, it’s nice to be helpful, but once you agree to organise the catering for the next leadership team away day, you won’t find yourself being involved in important strategic discussions.

It’s never easy to say no, and there’s always the fear that you’ll get a reputation for being difficult. However, it’s important to explain why you’re saying no. Tell people about your key priorities as an IC team and what you’re there to do.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll find HR, IT or other disciplines doing tasks that are out of their remit and it’s important to remind yourself of that when you’re feeling guilty for saying no to a colleague.

 

  1. Stop talking to leadership about things they don’t care about

Leaders are busy people with a lot of decisions to make and people to please. Use the time you have with them wisely. Make sure you understand the business you’re working in and what is likely to be keeping leadership awake at night.

For example, if your business is going through a merger, make sure you understand what TUPE means or the correct language to use when consulting with employees during redundancy.

Don’t feel the need to justify your existence by detailing every project you’re working on, share with them the key ones that will support the business and provide evidence and data for the decisions you’re making and what impact it will have.

It’s also important to challenge, advise and coach. It takes time to build this type of relationship but if you want to be valued and involved in the right conversations this is an important area to focus on. Leaders don’t need yes people, they need experts to guide them.

 

  1. Stop working without a strategy

The latest State of the Sector report by Gatehouse Group found that 45% of respondents don’t have a strategy. There are common reasons I hear about why this is:

  • The organisation is in the process of reviewing their strategy and the IC team are waiting for that. I’d argue you can put in place an interim strategy for things you know you need to focus on, until you get sight of an overarching business strategy.
  • You haven’t got time to set one because you’re firefighting constantly. This is where you quickly get caught in a vicious cycle because if you had a strategy, it would be easier to say no to things which would help you to focus.
  • Everything is changing so quickly, there’s no point in having a strategy. I disagree with this. Strategies need to be living, breathing documents that evolve. They also don’t have to be laborious. Having SMART* objectives and measures of success is essential for any internal communication team.

The simple fact of having a strategy demonstrates to other teams and leadership that you’re not a tactical function. If you don’t have clarity on where you’re going and what you’re trying to achieve, how will you know when you get there?

 

  1. Stop saying meaningful measurement isn’t possible

Because it is. Again, the State of the Sector report found that 39% of respondents don’t measure the impact of IC campaigns on behaviour change and business outcomes. Without measurement how can we build a strategy and prove to the business that we’re having an impact? How can we be surprised when the business doesn’t understand the value of internal communication?

Start small and don’t try to measure everything. Instead focus on what matters most to the business and set clear objectives that will make it easier to measure success.

Remember you don’t have to work alone. Organisations are full of data and teams like HR and IT will have a wealth of information that can help you measure the impact you’re having. Work with them from the outset to understand what information is available and agree objectives that are realistic.

 

  1. Stop being so defensive

A slightly controversial one maybe but whenever we are asked to sprinkle our magic on some content, we’re all quick to join in a group moan about how misunderstood we are. But I think there are alternative ways to look at this.

Firstly, if we genuinely aren’t being taken seriously, then we only need to look at the points above to see that we have some responsibility in that. And while some of us will be nailing it, unless we create consistency across our profession (within reason as every organisation is different) there will be a mixed understanding of what we’re there to do.

Secondly, sometimes people mean it as a compliment. Yes, we are there to do more than sprinkle our magic, but they might just mean that you are the expert at creating engaging content that will cut through the noise and clearly communicate the key messages. The fact they’ve come to us and asked for help is a big win and we can take this further by asking the right questions to demonstrate how we can help them even further, for example: who is this for? What are you trying to achieve? Have you thought about a different approach?

Sometimes it’s a sign that we’re more valued than we realised.

 

Internal communicators are doing great work, but it is important that collectively we raise the profession up to one that advises and supports the businesses we work in. That means having a strategy, measuring outcomes, providing insight and creating clarity around the value we add.

 

*SMART objectives: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely

 

By Helen Deverell for Alive with Ideas

Source: State of the Sector report by the Gatehouse Group

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“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

“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

“Love it. I will pass to the boss, but I think it's awesome.”

Matt Fletcher — Met Police

“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

“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

“Boom!
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

“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

“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

“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

“I have worked with Alive with Ideas for many years now and they are by far the best Ideas and design company I have ever worked with (I’d even go as far as to say the best company of any sort that I’ve ever worked with). They are an incredibly talented and creative team, who are normal human beings, completely grounded, totally down to earth, approachable, friendly and an overall joy to work with.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist — StephTranter.com

“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 — StephTranter.com

“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

“We worked with Alive on our new website and branding project. They wowed us during the pitch 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 that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

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

“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
Alive logo