Last week, I attended ALI’s 2016 Strategic Internal Communications conference in Boston. It gave me the chance to connect with some really smart folks in our business, and gain insights into key trends and the latest internal communications best practices that shape the work we do every day.
The event chair, the incomparable Steve Schenbaum, kicked off the event with some high-energy “icebreakers” that set a tone of honesty, humility and respect. That tone was carried throughout the conference, and represents the biggest takeaway for me:
At its core, Internal Communications is about building authentic connections.
Yes, it’s also about things like building business literacy, driving productivity, and giving leaders a voice. But when you strip away all the business measures, it boils down to meaningful human connections – whether it’s one-to-one or leader-to-team or employee-to-company.
Besides walking away from the conference feeling all warm and fuzzy about the meaning behind the work we do, I also picked up a slew of other internal communications best practices:
Internal Communications Best Practice #1: Video is (still) king
More and more companies are creating and using video as a way to educate, inform and connect with their people. From informal video messages from the CEO filmed on an iPad to emotional employee profiles, video is an increasingly powerful tool for connecting with your people – particularly those who aren’t sitting at a desk all day. Just make sure your videos are optimized for mobile!
Internal Communications Best Practice #2: Individual stories hit home
Nearly all of the presentations highlighted the fact that companies are discovering a wealth of meaningful stories among their people. Whether it’s unveiling a new brand, introducing bold new corporate priorities or launching a D&I initiative, companies are mining for individual employee stories to bring these efforts to life in the form of videos, posters, written profiles, and much, much more.
Internal Communications Best Practice #3: Think and communicate holistically
While it seems that we as communicators no longer have to “sell” company leaders on the importance of things like employee wellbeing or a diverse culture (thank goodness!), we still need to be thoughtful about how we communicate these commitments to our people. So perhaps one of the most important internal communications best practices presented was THINK BIG. If you’re launching a wellness campaign, make sure you’re considering the whole employee by offering and communicating solutions that address ALL of the lifestyle challenges an employee might face. Or if you want to improve your company’s diversity, think beyond a themed celebration – consider how you can support inclusive thinking at every stage of the employee life cycle, from employee resource groups to mentoring to diverse recruiting practices.
Thanks, ALI, for a fantastic conference that provided some great insights and some great new relationships!