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March 2021
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Opening the lines of communication

Clear and trusted communication is important in all walks of life and when it comes to engaging with staff and residents it is vital.

But it is important to consider that this communication is not a one size fits all’ solution.

The key to communication is to know your audience and provide them with a medium that reaches them on their level. It sounds simple enough but is often forgotten by those charged with guiding the communication.

The difficulty is that it takes willingness for either companies or government bodies to admit their failings whilst also celebrating their successes. Too much of the latter will mean that none of those successes are communicated because the readership become immune to it. By covering bad news in a constructive and open way, the magazine will be mirroring what many of the readership already knows. It shows that the publication does not shy away from tough subjects and it adds weight to success stories that are appropriate.

How to deliver

How the message is delivered is just as important as the message itself. A hard line communication without discussion will make staff less responsive. The silent approach, on the other hand, can also speak volumes about how little an organisation values its staff. This can lead to hearsay and misinformation.

Employee newsletters and magazines, whether print or online, are viewed as an integral part of internal communications and the best way to engage and motivate staff.

Government departments and agencies have woken up to the benefits that come with targeted communication and have recognised that their greatest ambassadors are the people that work for them and vote for them. Clear communication is the only way to ensure that the readership is pulling with and not pushing against the company or council.

It’s the style

The style, shape and content of newsletters have also dramatically changed. Most are now glossy magazines or newspapers, more reflective of their newsstand counterparts.

The look and feel needs to reflect the brand, but it must work in a magazine or newspaper format. Who wants to read something that looks like the corporate brochure? If the staff are mostly red top tabloid or Heat readers, they are hardly likely to read a staff magazine written and designed like The Times.

Creating covers with pick-up value is just as important, if not more so, for an employee publication. A picture of the finance director playing golf is not going to attract attention, whereas a member of staff carrying out his or her day-to-day job could.

Where employee newsletters can perform even more of a service is in the two-way communication that can be fostered through the publication. Letters pages, vox pops, competitions and calls to action are not only good ways to measure readership but also gives a valuable insight into the mood of the staff. If people are interacting with the magazine, they’re interacting with the organisation and the brand.

Employee publications are fighting their way to the top of the communication hierarchy with an approach not too dissimilar to the standards of a customer magazine. It is important to remember that employees are also often current or potential customers. If they see a magazine for customers has higher production values and quality than one delivered to them as employees, they will perceive that as staff their value to the organisation is lower.

Communicating with the public

Before considering how government organisations should communicate with the public it should be noted that these agencies and departments have an obligation to tell the public how they are spending our income or council tax and why.

In recent years however, such communication has become more competitive and difficult. We all receive so many more messages by post, text, e-mail, online newsletters and social networking sites and forums that we have less time to read everything. It is much more difficult to capture the attention.

There is so much opportunity and benefit to be gained by building goodwill towards public organisations. Effective communications are vital if this is to be achieved.


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