Lockdown has lifted internal newsletters to another level

Internal Communications Cape Town

Lockdown has lifted internal newsletters to another level

One aspect that we’ve really enjoyed about lockdown is the new intensity around internal communications. With many clients’ employees working remotely, we’ve seen a lift in the quality and thoughtfulness behind employee newsletters and internal communication publications, both digital and print.

A new high for HR
I really hope that post-COVID internal communications and staff newsletters never revert to a tick-box exercise but I don’t think that it will. I think that HR Executives have lifted internal communications to another level, through:

  • Looking for opportunities to increase engagement
  • Keeping staff informed and educated 
  • Managing the risk of over-communicating by mixing up content 
  • Ensuring that the company brand values remain top-of-mind 
  • Promoting positive word-of-mouth amongst employees 
  • Creating excitement through graphics and copy 
  • Finding a balance in tone, introducing some humour and fun.

We’ve seen content management improve significantly for internal newsletters and communications.

Brand thinking
We’ve seen brand strategy thinking coming through – an understanding of what is going through the heads of staff and connecting with it. You absolutely have to see your employees as clients which you MUST reach. This is arguably what separates mundane tick box communications from carefully orchestrated internal communications which achieve objectives. It’s pointless just staying close during lockdown if you’re just irritating already stressed employees by not talking to their fears, hopes and prevailing mood in a relevant way.

Chill a bit
Why can’t internal communications be fun? Get creative and start coming up with whacky campaigns and competitions which excite and delight employees. Life right now is stressful enough – create a lighter side. Get employees to talk to you at a human level. We love the WhatsApps which flow between ourselves and an HR Executive on ideas and then, when we’ve got to a point, we do it. Huge fun, big urgency, spontaneous energy.

Be more spontaneous.
The tick-box approach confines one to a calendar, normally a fat internal communication or internal newsletter will be activated quarterly or bi-annually stuffed with content. The box is ticked. But you don’t look at news every quarter to see what happened in the month or publication or to read old news. Stuff happens NOW. A mega deal has been signed which will lift spirits today. The Call Centre is coming back to the office on Monday. The team went out and delivered food hampers to a community yesterday. Moral is down now. Or right now, the employees are upbeat because production targets. It’s all happening and it’s happening NOW, not in the next quarter. Bring spontaneity and urgency into your internal communications.

Having said this, there is nothing wrong with a bumper quarterly issue. However, get at least two or three quick communications out each month.

Use creatives.
If HR is managing internal communications, why can’t they use a brand, creative or PR agency to work with them? These disciplines are not restricted to Marketing. Internal communications is about:

  • Shaping behaviour and attitudes
  • Keeping people (and by implication, processes) on-brand
  • Developing pride through individual and company performance.
  • Creating positive word of mouth which extends externally (talent brands)
  • Promoting a culture.

It’s not about “telling”. Employees have hundreds of communications to go through, mostly mundane. You need to entertain and make sure that employees look forward to receiving their newsletter. Make it a brand. Use copy writers to create engagement. Get graphic designers to give it sizzle. Involve a UXD who understands user behaviour. Some PR input would be good. Most of these skills are found in a creative agency. Imagine having those same skills which connect with external markets working on reaching your employees. Treat your employees as clients.

Share the vibe.
Select appropriate content which is not sensitive and upload it on your website, social media profile and share it with your clients. Uplifting and positive company news says much about your company and brand. It surely sends a message which says: “Look at the way we engage with our people … how we acknowledge performance … what a vibe we have going here … “.
All of this says: “We’re a good place to do business with … you can expect a great experience!”.


Gary Hendrickse
CEO Sherpa Brand, design and communications
+27 83 677 7342

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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