Publish to a Platform, Not Just to a Channel
- Part one of this series: Six Steps to Develop an Editorial Strategy for Internal Communications
- Part two: Editorial Strategies Must Incorporate Business and Team Goals
- Part three: How Do You Categorize Your Employees? Try Psychographics.
- Part four: Use Content Series to Optimize Your Internal Communications Strategy
Publishing to a platform, rather than to individual channels, is the surest way to increase the return on investment (ROI) for your time, effort, and output.
- An editorial strategy is a plan for how your team manages, uses, and measures content, contributors, channels, analytics, and feedback to support the company’s goals.
Channels are distinct outlets. A newsletter is a channel. So is a Twitter feed. So is a bathroom poster.
A platform contains contributors, multiple channels, and feedback loops that interact across three levels of activity, in order:
- Ideation and Creation
- Publishing and Distribution
- Engagement and Feedback
This is a simplified example of a platform. It shows the three main activities: content creation, distribution, and feedback.
STAGE 1: Ideation & Creation
The heart of a platform is the content creation and curation team, which is essentially the internal comms team. At this stage, the team is responsible for generating ideas for new and more material.
The content can take many forms: videos, articles, Instagram posts, town hall slides, and so on.
The team is also responsible for gathering content (and ideas) from contributors outside the internal comms group. These include usual and unusual suspects, such as:
- Corporate Communications (i.e., Public Relations, external comms)
- Diversity & Inclusion
- Human Resources
- Subject matter experts (e.g., the top salesperson in your firm; the head of talent development)
- Individual and ad hoc employee contributions
A sophisticated editorial platform federates employee contributions, designating a single source (person) for content from larger groups, whether they are based on geography or business units.
The contributors outside internal comms are responsible for assembling assets, which are sent to comms for review, editing, and approval.
The processes for how content is solicited and delivered differs from company to company, but processes must exist if the team wants to operate efficiently.
STAGE 2: Publishing & Distribution
After content is gathered and finalized, it’s then published and distributed to multiple channels.
- To ensure you maximize ROI, you must consistently publish to more than one channel.
Channels vary depending on a host of factors, such as available technology, budget, employee population, security barriers, and so on. Here are some common examples:
- Employee newsletter
- Departmental and team newsletters
- Internal blogs
- Digital signs
- YouTube channel
- Virtual townhall presentations
- Corporate blogs
- Social media, like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram
- Pantry posters
- All hands meetings
Some channels are more popular than others. An intranet that opens by default when you access a web browser will get a lot more attention than the corporate blog buried on an external (.com) About Us page.
Some channels are better at conveying information than others. Photo slideshows play better on digital signage and Instagram than in video or the daily newsletter.
And some channels are outlets you didn’t even realize were channels, such as chat rooms and PC desktop displays.
Every piece of content does not and should not be published to every channel every single time. But publishing to just one channel means you’re missing a trick.
- Rule of thumb: aim to publish every piece of content in different formats to at least three channels, every single time.
STAGE 3: Engagement & Feedback
Once content has been released to the world, recipients (your audience) can engage the material. The types of engagement, of course, vary by the medium with which it was received. There’s not much an employee can do with a photo on digital signage, other than absorb the information and move on. That same photograph, however, can be “liked” in an employee newsletter and it can be further shared on social media (if you allow it).
- It doesn’t take much effort to cross-post to the other channels.
Employees radiate and engage the content they receive, internally and externally. They act on the information or call to action they encounter.
Feedback can be difficult to capture, but there are two types of metrics you can fairly easily capture: qualitative and quantitative.
- Quantitative measuring is straightforward. For example, you can use hard numbers to determine whether your newsletter’s open rates increase or decrease. If you can count it, it’s quantitative.
- Qualitative measuring is tricky. For example, how do you know whether the content (e.g., videos, town halls, pantry posters, intranet articles) is relevant? One way is to conduct surveys, where you can get a mix of quantitative (yes/no answers) and qualitative (open-ended questions) feedback from employees. Another way is to host focus groups, which provide qualitative input.
Measurement is a whole other topic, but it’s important that you gather the feedback in any way it comes in, so you know whether what you’re pushing out into the world is having the desired effects.
There You Have It
That in a nutshell is a publishing platform.
To reiterate: You must publish to a platform consistently. It’s the only way to create a virtuous loop of content generation, metrics, and feedback.
In part six of this series, I’ll talk about how reviewing data is the only way to know if your internal comms strategy is succeeding…or failing.