Why and how internal comms’ form should follow business functions

The structures, obvious and hidden, of your organization offer clues to making your messages their most relevant to—and resonant for—your employees.

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Any internal communication must pass three tests before employees will act on it.

First, it has to pass the logistical test. Was it in the right language? Was it legible? Did it arrive on time?

Second, it must get their attention. So far, so good; internal communicators can handle logistics and attention.

The third test is often our biggest struggle. The content has to be relevant. Employees want to know: “What does this have to do with me? Will paying attention to it help me in some way?”

When mass media is the model for internal communications, it can be tough to make content’s relevance obvious to each and every employee. Personalization has been touted as an answer, but mostly it’s unrealistic to tailor each piece of content to each employee.

Many larger companies have opted for staffing internal communicators at the corporate level along with semi-independent departments that function within business units or geographic regions. That’s great, especially when the corporate and second-tier staffs have solid, productive relationships.

It is not, however, the only way to slice and dice a company.

Consider business units. A typical large organization could have several, but they generally fall into two categories:

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