Today’s communicator must tailor overarching employee messages to local audiences.
Context is incredibly important to internal communications, particularly in multinational organizations, and explaining what a given message means for employees and their roles—especially if it differs by region—will strengthen the force of the communication.
At large companies, an additional challenge is that internal communication teams are dispersed in global locations, with some also handling non-communications duties.
Building a network
The far-flung nature of these teams makes it crucial to foster a strong, supportive, collaborative communications network. Seven steps will help:
1. Appoint local ambassadors. Review your list of communicators around the globe, and identify which individuals could serve as the “go-to”‘ people in each location to do the following:
- Foster a local community of communicators.
- Cascade key messages to this group.
- Report back to the central team about what’s working and not working in their area, and where they need support, training, resources, etc.
2. Convene monthly meetings. Once you’ve identified who your ambassadors are, convene the first of your monthly meetings as a communications network.
The ideal would be to have this first interactive gathering in person, preferably at your company’s most exotic and exciting location. However, given that logistical constraints and budgets might not allow for this, a webcast or other virtual platform will suffice.
3. Take a collaborative approach to setting the monthly call agenda. Ask your ambassadors what will be most helpful for them, while sharing what you expect from them. Together you can develop a service level agreement that outlines what the communication network stands for, what your shared purpose and goals are, and how you will communicate with each other (all to encourage collaboration).
You could also consider rotating leadership for this monthly call among all members of the network to keep them engaged and ensure it’s collaborative rather than top-down.
4. Suggestions for your monthly agenda could include:
- Discussing key messages that should be communicated on the global and local levels. The team at one pharma company coordinates communication activities across the organization through a central editorial calendar.
- Sharing best practices. You might discuss a key theme each month.
- Discussing what’s working and what’s not working across the regions. Explore where communicators need support, resources, training, etc.
5. Hold monthly or quarterly master classes for communicators. These will provide support and training in areas that those in the communication network will need help with, as identified in the monthly calls.
One communication team network takes this approach by developing master classes based on feedback that their local champions collect.
6. Create a virtual, collaborative space. This is to help global communicators share ideas and best practices, to ask questions, and so on. Start with a closed group (on Yammer, for example) just for communicators—and perhaps one just for ambassadors—to afford communicators a “safe” environment for sharing openly.
Encourage your communicators to complete their profiles with areas of expertise to enable them to ask each other questions and identify the best person to help them.
7. Consider running a mentor or buddy scheme. These can be run within each region to pair communicators who can then learn and share with each other on a regular basis, thus building a stronger network of communicators in their locale.
A version of this post first ran on the CEB, now Gartner, blog.