The 7 Cs of Internal Communication

I recently read an interesting thesis ( ‘Internal Communication in organizations undergoing change’ by Linda Bertelsen and Anders Nerman) and found the following thoughts on effective communication relevant and useful for communicators to apply at their workplace.

There are 7 Cs of effective internal communication as collated by researchers.

1.    Communication needs to be concrete – easily understandable by the receiver

2.    Communication to be concentrated – focusing on issues that are essential for the receiver to simplfy matters

3.    Coordinated communication will enable managers to effectively get the message over

4.    Information needs to be consequent over time – which means it is better to communicate defective facts over time to be consistent rather than say one thing and take it back over the next communication, thereby losing credibility. I find this the most essential in practice and noted many organizations fall into the trap of communicating inconsistently.

5.    It is important to form ‘constrasts’ in the communication. Memos and emails can become dull and boring and less interactive compared to face to face communication. Hence, usage of pictures, images, charts and content on sidebars will help make the communication interesting and easier to assimilate. Effective communication affects knowledge as well as feelings of the receiver.

6.    Communication should ideally develop contacts – or create a dialogue or open channels for discussion for further exchange of ideas.

7.    It is critical to pursue communication on a continuous basis to keep the dialogue flowing and increase credibility.

Any perspectives from your experiences? Keen to hear about it.

Information overload and the role of internal communicators

Organizations are waking up to the alarming increase in information overload and drop in productivity among their staff.

According to RescueTime, an organization which analyses computer use behavior, a typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail programme more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times.The research also found that on an average the worker also opens and reads 40 Web sites over the course of the day. 

Companies are experimenting with methods to restrict access to e-mail and encouraging employees to meet up in person more often or take a break at least 15 minutes in a day. Some organizations are creating ‘no-email’ days during the work week to increase productivity.

Another study concludes that the more email employees receive, the unhappier they are with how email is used within the company. This is reflected in the high number of emails received by those who are concerned about the defects. Although it is not just quantity of email that causes concern, it is also the quality of the email.

For the internal communicator, these are important issues which need attention. Employees need help in getting to relevant information for their work and to contribute to the organization’s growth. The role of the internal communicator is two-fold – to evaluate and assess the information generation and publishing and build processes which streamline the flow of information.

The communicator needs to meaning of the information around and share in crisp, relevant chunks for easier assimilation. The recent boom in social media and Web 2.0 tools provides avenues to achieve this. Today, the employee no longer needs to rely on the organization for information about its products, services or its strategy. They discover it on the internet and the blogosphere much before the organization decides to make it public.

Recently, a senior professional from a leading Indian IT firm spoke about challenges in controlling information within the organization and also the need to understand how much information to share. This is a typical challenge faced by companies who are balancing the changing power shift in the Web 2.0 era where content co-creation, transparency and trust take centre-stage.

The internal communicator’s first step is to understand the various channels, information served and the rate of publishing. This will involve an audit and discussions with stakeholders within the organization.

You can involve employees and stakeholders for creating a guideline or a policy for information sharing and increased ownership.

Creating a centralized channel or routing all communication via a single source aids better recall and easier information intake. Some organizations use the intranet as the only medium for internal communication while stacking all corporate and business news for a weekly release unless it is a crisis message.

Leveraging RSS (Really Simple Syndication) options like Feed Reader or RSS Owl allows relevant information to be served to employees on a subscription model.

While sharing information, the communicator needs to ensure it is written to suit ‘skimmers’ and ‘scanners’, types of readers we find among ourselves. The former looking for key words within the documents to make sense of the information and the latter needing proof of the information’s authenticity to truly believe.

Allowing users to tag, rate, submit, forward, share and create mash-ups of information only increases the distribution and reach of news. Enroll citizen journalists and communication stalwarts from within the organization to enhance perspectives and viewpoints.

Helping managers distill information that is relevant for their teams is another good strategy to adopt.

The role of the internal communicator is more of a facilitator and a strategist than a creator and publisher of information. Companies which recognize this difference will be able to win the minds in the war on information overload.

Listen to a podcast on new media and internal communication


Welcome to my first podcast on my blog!

In this podcast, I summarize the implications of new media influence on internal communications and provide a strategy for managers to leverage opportunities to their advantage. The views from this podcast are from a workshop conducted on the same subject in 2007.


Below are some starter-kit recommendations.


  • Leverage internal expertise
  • Constantly beta-tests with your best critics
  • Tap the power of citizen journalism
  • Monitor the web
  • Build policies
  • Start a conversation

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. Be flexible and get feedback from users and finally, don’t get frustrated…the internet is an evolving media. Leverage it to your advantage. Absorb – Adapt – Apply.









Meeting Generation Next

On Saturday, April 26, 2008, I had an opportunity to meet an enthusiastic bunch of students while conducting a half-day workshop on corporate etiquette and networking. These students are working towards a 15 month MBA from a B-School in Bangalore.


Quite the Generation Next of India, I figured! Articulate, respectful, knowledgeable, willing to challenge the status quo and quick to embrace new technologies.


During the three-hour interaction, they asked me relevant and mostly tricky questions on corporate expectations (how to assert themselves), make a difference (land the right job – we discussed using social networking sites effectively), ability to identify the corporate culture and how they fit in (we spoke about matching personal values with the organization’s, generation X and Y). In fact, one student in class googled my name and got to my blog which inspired him to raise a question around quality of content vis-à-vis quantity of posts!


I learnt a lot through this interaction. Most importantly, understanding this new generation – the future of modern India, requires you to listen and observe them actively. Their ambitions, viewpoints and expectations are practical and transparent. Their need for openness and change are critical for human resource and communication professionals to consider while devising engagement strategies.



Refreshing internal campaigns and challenges

Very often internal initiatives lose momentum due to a host of reasons – ownership within the business, other campaigns getting better share of mind, budget cuts among others. Campaigns usually run out of steam after the intitial first round of messaging and gets communicators in a fix.

 The organization may have added a fresh set of employees by the time the next round of communication is rolled out. A long term commitment and plan to refresh communication is vital to the success of any campaign. From my experience many campaigns are treated as one-off exercises.

 Some recommendations to refresh internal initiatives are:

Increase internal touchpoints for communication – be it at induction, at a Town Hall or through artefacts in the walkways.

Cultivate a set of internal brand advocates to promote and reinstate the messages.

Use easily understood words like ‘new’, ‘improved’ or ‘enhanced’ to re-launch the next set of mesages.

 Take the opportunity to recap, showcase milestones and project success stories since the earlier communication.

Cross sell the program on other company internal vehicles.