A comprehensive internal communications strategy requires you to have the necessary tools to reach and engage your employees. Commonly referred to as a “tech stack,” a term used by developers to describe a collection of programs used to design an application or platform, an internal communicator’s stack pieces of software can help reach employees and measure messaging efforts. These measurement features are an invaluable resource when you are looking to prove the efficacy of your messaging strategies to C-suite members and other high-level executives.
During a recent session at Ragan’s Employee Communications and Culture Conference, industry experts shared their technology tips and revealed what makes up their internal comms tech stacks.
Modifying tools for a virtual world
It’s no secret that internal communicators had to pivot their messaging strategies to mostly digital over the past two and a half years. That meant that the tools they used had to change, too.
Greg Bannon, acting director of internal communications with Verizon, said virtual town halls simply lacked the energy of in-person meetings. So Bannon conceived a workaround: a mini production studio, located in his house, that enabled him and his team to produce high-quality, engaging short-form videos to distribute to employees.
He said his comms team stepped up to the plate when it came to using video tools in a new and exciting way. Like many other internal communicators, Bannon become tech-savvy in a way he had not been before.
“I had to become a host, a DJ, all these other different avenues that you would never imagine you’re going to do, to keep your employees engaged and also to make your leadership feel comfortable,” Bannon said.
Echoing Bannon’s drive to innovate in the face of adversity, Cardinal Health VP of communications Kerry Christopher said that the work of staying ahead of comms trends is never finished.
He asked communicators to consider how new tools and software can make their jobs easier and improve their companies in new ways.
“.How do we stay ahead of that and make sure that we’re embracing these tools?” he asked the audience. “Because people will use them whether we want them to or not. So how do we make sure we’re using them for the benefit of the company [in a way] that is productive?”
Getting employees to engage with new platforms
Sometimes a good internal messaging strategy is less about chasing what employees want and more about creating clear places where workers can go for information, said Debra Helwig, senior internal communications manager with KCoe Isom. Consistency and cadence, for Helwig, are the name of the game.
“For us, that means starting with a really, really robust intranet, a single source of truth — everything points back to the intranet,” she said.
And rather than seeking out new platforms for every new initiative you’d like to take on, Helwig suggested looking into what apps and functionalities exist within the tools you already own and use, which can make it less daunting for employees who are hesitant to learn how to use a new platform.
KCoe Isom’s employee recognition program started with a manual training for employees, who slowly learned how to complete the steps needed to give kudos to their colleagues.
“Then, people got excited about seeing themselves recognized in a manual way, so now, we’re going to roll out the tool, because they’re already excited about the thing,” Helwig said. “So it’s not, ‘we’re going to throw a tool at you that you have to learn’… we’ve got people engaged in doing the activity in a sort of simple way, and now we’re going to roll the tool out to help them do it better.”
Best practice? Slowly roll out the use of new tools to your employees, letting them guide the timetable on when you fully implement the software or program. It’s about establishing rituals and behaviors, working from the ground up, before expecting your employees to be fully on board with a new tool.
Tech stack recommendations from the pros
- Outlook (email)
- Constant Contact (graphics-heavy emails software)
- Zoom (video conferencing)
- Kahoot (interactive software for polling, games)
- Canva (free/low-cost image and graphics design)
- Yammer (instant messaging)