Written by Claire O’Brien, originally published on the Newsweaver blog on November 7, 2016.
If your internal communications challenge is to create engaging content for readers who just happen to be employees, then a content strategy for your internal communications newsletter is a very important part of ensuring you get that engagement.
An employee email newsletter will succeed, no matter who it is aimed at, once it ticks at least a couple of the boxes of either being interesting, informative, entertaining, or easy to read and navigate.
By tailoring newsletter content specifically to items that engage your employees you will see an increase in engagement and this will grow over time.
However, as internal communicators we know that content production isn’t as straightforward as that. Budgets for amazing video, professional photography, gamification elements, and so on, just don’t exist for most IC teams. Not to mention the time it takes to write, edit and get content clearance approval.
So how do you come up with a content strategy for employee newsletters that allows you to connect and engage but doesn’t cost the earth?
Connect your content calendar to organization-wide initiatives
Another highly effective strategy is to tie your content to a major project (with a comms program or initiative behind it) that the organization has prioritized. For example, this could be an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implementation campaign, change management program or wellness initiative.
As excitement around the campaign grows, launch and follow-up events take place, employee and project manager-generated content become more readily available. It is this excitement that will sustain you through the (sometimes!) long slog of creation, and it’s part of what gets your audience to share, share, share.
This was something Brittany Kruk and John Martin, Walgreens Boots Alliance were able to do when tasked with supporting a huge international change management program.
Using technology to create engaging internal comms
One of the great things about the world of internal communications today is that there are so many brilliant and cost-effective (free or nearly free) apps and technology available to the savvy communicator. You can download an app and generate content efficiently, at low or no cost. The question, though, is which technology to use and when to use it?
I have created a list of 7 of my favourite content-generating technologies that I hope you find helpful. Please feel free to email me with yours and we can share even more great ideas.
- Video that doesn’t have to cost the earth: Video doesn’t have to be expensive to be engaging. Short videos from free sources like Facebook Live and Vine can add another dimension to your corporate communications. If you have a little more budget, companies like Seenit and 12 Stars Media can provide reasonably priced, professional alternatives.
- Free photography: No budget for custom photography? Don’t worry. In today’s selfie obsessed world there is no shortage of free photography sources. A particular favourite of mine is Unsplash. Images are free to repost but be sure to credit the owner. Another tool that many employees are already using is Instagram. Why not create a closed Instagram account and encourage employees to upload photos?
- Captions and quotes: Bring your photos to the next level using Get Stencil, Wordswag or Canva to add branding, quotes or captions to your photos. Why not create beautiful quotes from positive comments on your Yammer or other internal social network?
- Create collaborative content: Using Playbuzz. This easy to use platform allows you to inform, teach, entertain and even challenge employees in a fun and interactive way.
- Formatting: Say goodbye to text formatting woes. This simple tool can make your day so much easier and reclaim some valuable time! Paste your copy from Word or other documents into this little gem and it will remove any hidden code – https://word2cleanhtml.com/
- Track engagement across multiple newsletter editions. Free for all Newsweaver users, our out-of-the-box reporting tool allows you to easily track the performance of your email newsletters over time, allowing you to see what content is engaging employees. One of the really useful things about this is that you can see if a particular article, topic or email is performing above, below or at the benchmark level for your communications.
- Bursting with new content ideas? Use Mind Node or Workflowy to visually map, brainstorm, and organize your thoughts in an intuitive way, allowing you to focus on the idea behind your comms program.