Internal comms vital for design, says Radley Yeldar

If cries from staff of ‘nobody tells me anything’ are becoming familiar then you could be in need of a shake-up of your internal communications strategy.

According to the authors of a new report from Radley Yeldar – Goodbye Staff Numbers 5357 and 76 583, Hello Aisha and Dave – comments such as these are among the signs to look out for to measure staff satisfaction (or the lack of it), while the findings aim to help organisations implement and improve internal communications.

The relevance of the report for the design industry is two-fold. Design plays a crucial role in conveying the internal communications message within client organisations. Additionally, the industry is well-placed to implement good practice within its own businesses. For the purposes of the study, internal communications are deemed to encompass all communications within an organisation, from face-to-face and one-to-one interaction, to digital newsletters, memos, intranets and social media such as blogs, Wikis and podcasts.

The report says that, when it comes to internal communications, many companies are still failing to integrate new business initiatives with existing business strategies. It offers advice on how to make a message clear, the best way to demonstrate the benefits of changing a visual identity, and how to highlight any changes or expansions.

While many designers might not consider internal communications work as inspiring as other branding jobs, it can have a huge effect on a client’s business.

Only last month, Rufus Leonard created an internal communications campaign for Shell Exploration and Production to help its 30 000 employees around the globe change the way they use energy. And in 2005, Interbrand came up with a campaign for Barclays to highlight the bank’s arrival at its new premises in Canary Wharf, London.

‘Design plays an important role in internal communications,’ explains Radley Yeldar head of internal communications Louise Sturgess, the author of the report. ‘This is based around the tone of voice, the whole look and feel, and it can help communicate with people using a creative theme,’ she says. ‘If they are using a visual identity, that can help further understanding of the message and you can make complex things more simple for the audience.’

But the implications for designers don’t stop there. If design consultants are being appointed to carry out these campaigns, they themselves should be implementing similar strategies internally.

The report advises that companies should ask how they want their staff to think, feel and, ultimately, act as a result of their communications strategies. Then they should find the best way to go about implementing these standards. For example, one option is to set up a workshop where people have the opportunity to talk about brand values and how they affect behaviour.

Sturgess points out that quite often the larger organisations have better strategies, because it is easier to remember that they have a vast network to keep in the loop. Smaller organisations can sometimes cut corners because they assume everyone knows what’s going on.

Communications are especially important in the creative industries, where collaboration is key to success. ‘This industry has come a long way and it’s starting to take hold. People are beginning to use freelance experts as well as setting up internal communications departments,’ Sturgess adds.

• When it comes to internal communications, many companies are failing to join up new-business initiatives with their existing business strategy
• Social media have been adopted by many companies, but they have to be tailored for a particular organisation and its staff
• Newsletters can play a valuable role, but care and attention must be applied
• Corporate responsibility must be communicated correctly
• The are a range of case studies listed in Radley Yeldar’s report

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