If your company produces an employee newsletter, you may be wondering if it’s time to examine its usefulness. Don’t hold a funeral just yet for this workhorse. The company newsletter is far from dead, but it has evolved.
With galloping changes in communication technology and the burgeoning number of high-tech loving Millennials in the workforce who enjoy digital communication, it’s a good time to assess what your printed company newsletter is doing for you.
The purpose of a company newsletter is to connect a group and harness momentum toward a specific goal.
For decades, the printed company newsletter has been a trusty tool used to keep employees on top of the latest news, raise awareness of company strategies, reinforce corporate culture, give employees a method of feeling heard and inspire them to be their best.
While some companies are going as far as phasing out the employee newsletter completely and switching to intranets, blogs, social media and even video to engage employees, finding the right tool to use to capture employees’ attention continues to be crucial.
Before you arbitrarily introduce, cut or reduce any communication channel be sure to conduct research to figure out what connects best with your employees.
Different audiences prefer to receive their news via different channels, and the printed word continues to be valued for certain types of information.
The advent of digital communication channels has breathed new life into the company newsletter.
Newsletter content can now be augmented, even extended, with other channels, and similarly, digital channels can drive employees to the newsletter by enticing prospective
readers with what they can find in the newsletter.
If you are going to assess whether to retain, overhaul, revamp or ditch your company newsletter, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Assess your current employee communication
Conduct research to find out how employees feel about current communication. Ask employees how they want to receive company information. Are they getting enough information? Are there gaps? Do they want a way for their own voice to be heard? What about information sharing with teams? Maybe company-wide sharing of ideas and stories? Do they want to see more information about the impact their work has on the company?
Ask, don’t assume anything
The most important thing to remember when choosing communication channels is to make sure they connect you with your employees. If your employees love using Facebook and you choose Tumblr as your key platform for social media, you may lose your audience.
Survey employees to find out how they want to receive company information (print, e-mail, social media, intranets – including combinations of these), how often and what sort of news they’d like to receive.
Ask them about their social media use, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other platforms, as these may make up the preferred mix of channels. (A communication channel is the medium used to transmit information. E.g. print, broadcast, online.)
From the research I’ve conducted on behalf of transportation companies, employees have repeatedly voiced a preference for being communicated with using a combination of channels. They want to receive communication using digital methods, yet they still think the printed company newsletter is important.
A diverse audience requires diverse approaches
The transportation industry has a high number of older employees. Before you go and phase out your newsletter in favor of online-only content, make sure you don’t end up marginalizing a large segment of your audience.
Again, ask your employees what communication channels they prefer.
If even a portion of your workforce has limited, inconvenient or no regular access to digital devices and the Internet in the workplace, choosing an online-only communication strategy would take away an import opportunity to connect with a segment of your workforce.
Your message determines the channel
Videos are becoming an increasingly popular way to connect with employees. Rather than posting a story on the company intranet about a company driver participating in a truck driving championship, why not produce a short video?
Let the channel you pick to connect with your audience be one that will capture their interest.
Distribution channels must complement each other
Printed and online resources do not need to be an “either/or” option. In my work with transportation companies, it is apparent that combining the two is an ideal way to distribute content, reach a larger audience and target the content better to employee segments.
Let the content determine frequency
While it makes sense to share long-term, strategy-focused information and employee profiles in quarterly publications, daily updates to the company intranet are more appropriate for more timely news.
Today, everyone wants to have a say. Regardless of what communication channels you use to reach your workforce, remember to encourage employees to share their feedback.
Don’t just include a message inviting feedback, actively solicit regular input via surveys, blogs and internal focus groups.
Also, give employees a regular voice in company communication by inviting them to be part of an editorial team that meets periodically to plan content.
Rebecka Freels, former CTA and OTA communications director, operates a Calgary-based marketing, communications and events practice with clients in the transport industry. Reach her at Rebecka@beyondwordscommunications.com.