Ticketsolve at AMA Rewire: Getting Started with Internal Communications

19 Jul 2019 | Communications, Management, Teams

We’ve been thinking about internal communications a lot recently. Internal comms are one the best ways to bring various teams and departments together and get your organisation moving in the same direction with laser beam focus.

Ticketsolve recently attended and sponsored AMA’s Rewire conference, a gathering of arts and culture professionals across the UK. As always there were a ton of great talks, discussions and workshops, one that stood out was the AMA session Rewiring your Internal Communications with Eleanor Appleby.

This is a topic near and dear to our hearts here at Ticketsolve. It is an area that we are working on optimising ourselves and one that we think is incredibly valuable to arts organisations that want to break siloed thinking and engender creativity and collaboration in their arts organisations.

As Eleanor pointed out, internal comms is one area organisations don't give enough focus and attention. It is no surprise of course that this happens. Across organisations, the focus is almost entirely on communicating with audiences and often you just assume that internal comms are just sort of happening - surely departments and teams are talking to each other and know what is happening in the organisation as a whole?

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As Head of Visitor Communications at Tate, and a specialist in marketing, brand and staff engagement for the cultural sector Eleanor has amassed a huge amount of experience in delivering the optimum internal communications strategy.

Her session began with a simple question:

How does your organisation communicate with staff?

She then asked us to write a list of the current channels and score them for effectiveness on a scale of 1-5. This was a simple but powerful way to really bring our comms channels into focus - and set up the rest of the talk.

Why Focus on Internal Comms?

If you are like me, you might be thinking what I was thinking a year ago. Unless your organisation is huge why do I need internal comms? I can see teams interacting and talking - and moreover - where will I find time for all this?

As Eleanor noted, internal comms are not a “good to have” they are a “must-have” regardless of how big or small your organisation is. 

Having a proper process and plan for internal communications means:

  • Increase in work efficiency 

  • Improves organisational coherence 

  • Reduces rumour and uncertainty

  • Aligns everyone’s vision and goals 

  • Significantly increases staff engagement 

And this isn’t just hyperbole. A Watson and Wyatt study on internal communications showed that effective employee communication is a leading indicator of financial performance and a driver of employee engagement.

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So What Do Great Internal Comms Look Like? 

There are six key things to keep in mind when creating your perfect internal communications plan. You need to keep your comms timely, be transparent and consistent, keep it relevant and succinct and always, always ensure the conversation goes two ways.

Timely 

  • Plan your communications properly giving people enough time to think and chat. Comms should not be an afterthought. 

  • Announce news to staff first or simultaneously. 

Transparent 

  • Fully explain decisions and plans with as much detail as is appropriate.

  • Make use of holding statements if nothing has been decided (this ensures that rumours don’t get thrown around). 

  • Same messages need to go out internally and externally - if you are saying it to staff, you should be able to say it to patrons. 

Consistent 

  • Don’t suddenly go dark, keep your comms consistent

  • Don’t be afraid of bad news - both good news and bad news are part of business as usual 

  • Repeat important messages via multiple channels - in the case of internal comms it is better to over-communicate than under-communicate. 

Relevant 

  • Make sure your comms are targeted to each audience 

  • Mix up the comms - organisational, operational and personal is a way to get information across and make it fun. 

  • Remember that a big part of internal comms is ensuring that everyone is rowing in the same direction - contextualise information with corporate goals when relevant.

Succinct 

  • Keep your messages short, sweet and to the point - use clear headlines for easy scanning. 

Two Way 

  • Remember that internal comms are about keeping the conversation going as much as they are about informing people about what is going. Be sure to have a mechanism for input and questions. 

  • Internal comms is a great way to “close the loop” on topics; “you said, we did”.

The Best Communication Channels To Get Your Message Out

Eleanor went through a veritable laundry list of channels you can use to get your message out. While not all of these channels will be relevant to you, We encourage you to use the ones that are - and maybe even explore some new ones that might work well for your organisation. 

Some of Eleanor’s suggestions included:

  • Corporate Plan

  • HR Materials

  • Intranet

  • E-newsletter

  • All - staff emails 

  • Noticeboards/screens

  • Letters, leaflets

  • All staff meetings

  • Director Q&A’s/breakfast

  • Staff Forums

  • Unions

  • Team meetings

  • Department Open House 

  • One to Ones

Your Ultimate Goal for Your Internal Communication Strategy? Keep it Simple and Consistent.

Like any communications strategy, your comms need to be simple, clear, concise and consistent. When you are considering which channel to use for your comms, consider the subject matter carefully. Certain types of comms are suited to certain channels, for example, information on show programming shouldn’t be included in HR materials :) 

And of course, keep it easy on yourself! It is completely fine to repurpose existing content and use methods that make the communications and content easy to produce and absorb. 

We’ve a few ideas where technology and apps can support your internal comms. 

Ticketsolve can also help support your internal communications with features such as automated reporting, calendars and dashboards, virtual noticeboards, pop up notes, and project management notes.

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How to Get Started Revamping your Internal Communications

If you are looking to transform your internal comms, your first step is to become an agent of change. While that sounds dramatic, what we mean is that in order to affect change within your organisation from the mundane to the large scale, you need to see yourself as an agent of change and think a little differently. 

As an agent of change, you need to bring everyone along for the ride - this is probably the single biggest task for a change of any kind: getting people on board. The earlier you do this - and the wider you cast your change net, the better (and more sticky) your change will be. 

A true maker of change is someone who isn’t afraid of failure and is ready and willing to bring everyone along for the ride. Long-lasting change is about people, so your priorities need to be focused on them.

It is vital to build strong internal relationships through all levels of the organisation and talk to people as early as possible about your ideas and what you need from them. This will help bring everyone along with the change. Be as helpful as you can respond quickly and honestly to questions and concerns - and always look for the win-win opportunities. This is especially true if when you need to ask people to potentially add more work to an already filled plate.  

I'll be honest here, setting and maintaining a strong internal communications strategy requires some planning and ongoing work. However, the benefits of strong internal communications are too many to ignore. 

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