This time it’s personal: building a stronger connection with your audience

By Samantha McCabe
July 16, 2021
5 min read
Adapting your internal comms messaging to different audiences hands you the power to increase engagement and connection—here’s how.

Let’s start by laying down the facts: employees are the most integral part of any company or organization. They do the work, they get creative, and they build the community (as well as so much more). So it’s only fitting that for an internal communicator, audience is a crucial piece of your focus and your work.

Read on for our guide to making a real connection—this blog is sounding more and more like a Plenty of Fish slogan—with your audience in an authentic way.  

Why do audiences matter in internal comms?  

According to the Gallagher State of the Sector report only 17% of professionals performing internal comms duties have developed audience personas or profiles, increasing their ability to tailor messages and support change. This is a mistake, because audience is a crucial part of a holistic approach to internal communications—just ask our 7 principles methodology, which was developed in tandem with researchers at Simon Fraser University. As you’ll see in the photo below, audience is a key stepping-stone on the path to great internal comms, the “to the right people” of the sentence.  

The 7 principles of internal communications

When we speak about audiences, it’s about understanding what content resonates with and is relevant to your audience, and how you can effectively target that content to your audience. If you’re not doing that as an internal communicator, and employees have no reason to believe that the messaging they’re receiving is important and relevant to them specifically, they will be disincentivized to click on it. And that spells bad news for everyone involved. This is especially true with the growing deluge of internal and external stimuli all of us are receiving, whether that’s through work or on social media.  

So, while we’ll focus on audience today, it’s important to know that you can’t really untangle it from the other principles—timing and channel are also key to creating messaging that hits home.  

Related reading: The power of knowing your audience: segmentation in internal comms

How to put audience segmentation into practice with your internal comms  

Let’s work with a scenario to visualize how you can put audience at the forefront of your internal communications. Say your company is downsizing and re-modeling your existing office space to reflect the change to a new and permanent hybrid model of work. Office space will be reduced by one-third, and the leftover space will be converted to a flex workspace with a “hotelling” model, meaning there are 10 shared workspaces that can be reserved.  

There are three audiences involved here: managers, your staff (non-new employees), and new employees. Managers will definitely want to be kept in the loop about the switch and what stage the company is at; staffers will need to know the new rules about hotelling and how they need to adapt and book time in advance; and new employees will also need to know the new rules, but with their virtual onboarding during the pandemic, they need more hand-holding (do they even know where the office is?!).  

Below is our example template for plotting out the traits of these discrete audiences and the best communications practices that follow suit. Here we’ll focus on the new employees category. (Don’t be afraid if you can’t fill out something like this on your own. Very often, you’ll need to go and ask these groups what matters to them—that’s kind of the point!)

Internal comms audiences

This is just one example of how audience segmentation can help you build more effective communication. Managers won’t need the run-down that new employees get, and all staffers don’t need the privileged info that managers need—tailor your messaging and you’ll keep everyone happy and engaged.  

Related reading: There’s a generational gap: appealing to different messaging habits

How our internal comms software solution can help

If building and targeting audiences is so great, why aren’t the other 83% of respondents to the Gallagher survey doing it? At Karen’s old job, it was because she didn’t have the time, nor did she have the technology to support it, besides mailing lists on Outlook.  

As an internal communicator, you have the rare opportunity to maintain and enrich the connection between employees and the business, and it’s important that you make the most of it. But when you’re busy and overwhelmed with responsibilities, it can be very difficult to deliver quality, customized messaging to all employees.

Our own internal communications software has a variety of features that can help you approach the issues we outlined in this blog: it allows discrete user profiles, where you can keep track of all your employees and even organize them into audience folders and lists. Using these features, you can easily keep your database up-to-date and target specific groups with your messaging.  

Learn more about the audience segmentation feature on our intranet!  

Employees also have the ability to select their order of channel preference—taking away a lot of the stress of deciding whether an internal comms message is better suited for email or text. As communicators go to send a message, they can select which channel strategy they prefer, with one of the choices being according to employee preference. You can connect Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Slack, SMS, and our very own intranet software with push communications capabilities.

And finally, with our software, it’s easier than ever to schedule messaging at different times for different groups—perhaps around shift work or time zones.

There are lots of other useful tools throughout our software that will help you organize your efforts, engage employees, and measure tangible results. Interested in learning more about our software? You can start a free trial or book a demo today!

By Samantha McCabe