Tell your people first

You’re sitting at your desk and a notification from NZ Herald pops up. It’s a story about your workplace – surprisingly your company is reported as expanding into Gisborne. Then your friend messages you and asks you about it. Perplexed, you’re unsure how to respond as it’s the first you’ve heard about it. You feel out of touch with your workplace and not important enough to know the news first-hand.

The above situation, while fictional, is a common occurrence. Managers and business leaders can get wrapped up in the everyday grind and sadly internal communications can become an afterthought. Yes, the media will be interested in the news you have to share, but so will your people and they should know your stories first.

A good habit to get into is sending your key news and developments to your internal stakeholders/line managers an hour before you send to media. This gives your team the chance to digest the news themselves, read any key messages they need to know about and can in turn communicate with their teams as necessary. That way, when a friend does enquire about the new expansion plans, they can feel involved and respond with “Cool huh? It’s exciting to be able to grow our brand into the regions.”

This becomes particularly important when the news isn’t good. Social media spreads bad news like wildfire – and often inaccurately. Getting your teams up to speed is imperative, so they can shut down inaccurate information being shared internally.

Nailing internal communications is important for a whole range of reasons:

  • It helps to build organisational culture
  • It keeps people engaged and feeling valued
  • It creates a channel for feedback, debate and discussion
  • Essential for keeping people calm in times of crisis.

Empower your communications team to keep your internal stakeholders informed – and while we’re on the topic, make sure it’s second nature that they’re notifed about incidents when they happen. The last thing you want is the media to call your comms team after an incident when they have no idea what’s happened – we know this is far too common, particularly in larger organisations.

So, the next time you have something to send to media, build in some time to inform your internal teams first. Include a small paragraph that briefly explains what the media story is about and what key messages they need to know. It’s important that everyone is on the same page and solid internal communications is key to achieving this.