In yesterday's workshop at the IABC Virtual World Conference, long-time IABCer, IABC Fellow, and recognized communications technology guru Shel Holtz shared his perspective on technologies that communicators need to think about for the road ahead. 

As communicators, we are responsible not only for crafting messages and then ensuring those messages reach employees, we are also the pathfinders for adopting new technologies and showing our employees (and our Leadership) how to best take advantage of them.

Communicators are used to being the masters of the portal, the gurus of the intranet, the wizards of email, and more recently, the zen of Zoom. But when it comes to communication best practices and innovation, we should be the ones taking the lead, embracing new technologies to the best advantage of our companies and our employee audiences.

Take messaging, for example. (When you read “messaging”, did the image of a text just pop into your head? Or was it an email?) Messaging can happen in many different forms and in applications, from email to texts, Yammer, Slack or Microsoft Teams. 

In addition, messaging is not just about knowing which channel or tool to use, or just adding new channels to your arsenal, but the ability to use all the channels effectively - by creating one message and broadcasting it across many channels or applications, from Teams, Yammer, the SharePoint site, AND email. 

So instead of thinking about creating a variety of messages, or one message updated on various channels, think about a broadcast tool that allows for ONE message to be distributed to MANY channels. (like marketers do when using products like Hubspot or Salesforce to schedule and push a single social post across multiple social channels with just 1-click).

That’s a good example of how you as a communicator can use messaging to get your own job faster and better - and make the lives of your employees better, as well. But it goes beyond that. You will want to be the thought leader of communications for your company. Here’s how it can empower your team.

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Think about how managers communicate with their teams. They have a lot to juggle - are probably monitoring several emails, their texts on their business and personal phones, Yammer and Teams chats and more. They are getting information from the company, their teams, their peers, and their bosses. And in turn they need to process and get all of that out to the right people on their teams quickly and easily.

To help them improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their communication, you can teach them how to streamline by broadcasting focused messages. Get them to think about what channels their team members prefer, and where the message might get the most traction. It will not only help them to place messages where employees are most likely to, or want to, view it (which is often where they’re spending their time), but should cut down on the number of messages they are sending. 

Using marketing as the metaphor again, think of the manager as a product manager who’s partnering with marketing to get messaging to the customer. In your case, your Leadership or managers are the product manager, and your employees are the customer.

In recent months, under the frenzy of COVID-19 employee communications, many senior practitioners who have been panelists in webinars we have hosted on the topic have reported that the frequency of their communications has almost doubled. 

If they had stuck to just email, their employees might have become overwhelmed and, even worse, disengaged. But they haven’t, because these communication leaders have embraced some pretty innovative ways to keep their messaging fresh, effective as well as efficient.

Instead of email, try these methods instead.

  • Send text alerts
  • Do quizzes on upcoming events
  • Create “ads” that crop up in the Teams channel
  • Use Yammer
  • Create a Q&A channel in Teams
  • Use video (stat on how video is watched more)
  • Create a podcast
  • Go small
  • Go big

Take inspiration from the consumers and talk to your employees like they are customers. Don’t assume that they want to hear your message. And don’t assume they’re a captive audience. You need to sell your message to them just as a marketer would to a customer. Then teach your leaders to do the same. The end result is that your employees will be more engaged and informed, your company Leaders will be pleased, and you’ll be viewed as the thought leader for communications, which, in the end, is exactly what you are.

Velaku is communications software that puts your employee communications content right where your employees are working every day - Office 365 apps. Velaku makes it easy to create, edit, curate and target content that is broadcast to apps including SharePoint, Outlook, Yammer and Teams. It’s quick to implement, easy to work with, and seamless to use. It's not content all in one place — it's content all in the right places.

Webinar #3 - Evolving Employee Communications - Returning to the Workplace?

"As communicators, we are responsible not only for crafting messages and then ensuring those messages reach employees, we are also the pathfinders for adopting new technologies and showing our employees (and our Leadership) how to best take advantage of them."


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