Switching channels

Monday, 24th April 2017

It’s often said about satellite telly that it just takes longer to find out there’s nothing worth watching.

The choice of so many channels can be a headache for internal communications professionals, too.

So what works and what doesn’t? Sorry, there is no easy answer. And indeed, that’s not even the right question.

Whether you need to tell people that the air con on the fifth floor isn’t working or that the company is relocating to LA, the first question is: how can I make it easy for people to access the message?

And one size rarely fits all. Within any single audience there will be many different ways people prefer to receive their information, depending on where they work, the jobs they do and their own info-grazing habits.

Just opting for one platform and expecting people to use it rarely works.

It’s a question of horses for courses, so here’s our guide to some of the runners and riders.


Pros: permanent knowledge bank of useful information such as training manuals and induction materials; the first thing people see when they log on each day

Cons: unless continually (daily) updated it can become a dusty repository of out-of-date content. Should be branded, bespoke, simple to navigate and, if possible, mobile-friendly


Pros: great impact when well designed, used sparingly and placed in areas of high traffic

Cons: static; quickly out of date; too often text heavy

Magazines and newspapers

Pros: still massively popular and influential (15m people read a national paper every day, millions of others read free titles); ideal for telling the big stories in a big way; easily portable; needs no equipment, batteries or wi-fi signal

Cons: declining popularity; often requires bought-in skills to produce; can’t compete with online channels for news

Social media

Pros: reflect the reality of many employees’ external lives (Facebook has 1.55 billion active users) and expectations for instant connections and two-way communication; many decent off-the-shelf suppliers (Yammer; Slack; Chatter; Facebook Workspace); great for breaking news; useful gateway to further information;

Cons: nervousness about security; losing control of the message; lack of depth or context; needs mass uptake to be successful

Employee app

Pros: mobile (great potential for remote workforces); available offline; gateway to intranet and other sources or rich content; can be a one-stop (or at least a first stop) for all employee communication; offers user stats; developing rapidly

Cons: generally relies on willingness of employees to use their own devices and to be among the 52% of internet users who use mobile devices to go online; potential security concerns; needs updating several times a day.

Team meetings

Pros; cost effective; often cited as the most trusted form of IC; encourages dialogue; team building

Cons: depends on the communication skills of the team leader; can become a box-ticking exercise; not so good for remote workforces


Pros: increasingly popular; credible particularly if user-generated; can convey quickly lots of information for time-poor employees; can be shared

Cons: many people (75% according to a recent Reuters survey) prefer text as it’s quicker to scan, doesn’t rely on decent wi-fi or earphones


Of course, all of this is the means to lead the horses to the water; only compelling content will make them drink . . . and keep coming back to the pond.

Steve Turner

Steve Turner

What do you love about your job? Summing up a 1500 word feature in a six-word headline.