When and how to break important company news

Don’t wait until Friday, and don’t count on a one-and-done approach. Follow up big announcements with complementary, concise messaging to hammer home the crux of it.

How to announce important company news

It’s long been common corporate communication practice to send out bad news around 4 p.m. on a Friday.

The thinking is that most folks are in weekend mode by that point, which helps soften the blow. Good news, however, goes out Monday morning, because we want it to run all week.

But when do you send your important news? You know, the news that’s not sexy yet it’s crucial for your employees, customers, clients or stakeholders to know about?

recent study showed that late in the week isn’t the time to send important messages. Here’s why:

  • You’ll get 34% fewer social media mentions.
  • You’ll receive 23% to 66% fewer mentions in articles.
  • Up to 51% are likely to never receive the information at all.

Communicators tend to work all week to make messaging perfect, only to release pieces after most people have mentally checked out. The better idea for important news is to release it first thing on Monday and then to trickle out the gist all week to increase engagement and comprehension.

It takes most people five to seven times of seeing and/or hearing information before it sinks in, so don’t make important news a one-and-done dissemination deal. Repeat, reinforce and reiterate key points.

Take open enrollment announcements, for instance. Many spend weeks preparing the communication but put very little thought into how best to amplify, support and hammer home the messaging.

The strategy for important news should be one big splash announcement, followed by supplemental messages over the next seven days or so. It might look something like this:

Day 1: Big message!

End of day 1: A USA Today version of the big message, such as, “What you really need to know about “X.”

Day 2: 1 Important fact about “X” you must know, or you might die (or something similarly dramatic.)

Day 3: A “Did you know?” feature, such as “The top 3 things that are changing.”

Day 4: Story from the field, or an FAQ about “X.”

Day 5: “Before you leave the office, are you sure you and your family will have insurance this weekend?”

Day 6: The following Monday, a message from the CEO on “X.”

Day 7: Last call: the final things you need to know before “X” runs out.

The example above is mostly about open enrollment, but this template can be used for any big change announcement.

The other key here is how and when you release these messages. Corporations tend to favor email, but it’s crucial to get outside the inbox. Use text messages, social media platforms or posters where you get heavy employee traffic. Reach people where they are and where they hang out. Send messaging at times they’re most likely to pay attention.

Employees probably won’t think your “important” news is terribly important, so the onus is on you to change their minds. Earn their attention through compelling communication, and reinforce key points to make sure it sticks.

A version of this post first appeared on Tim Sackett’s blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

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