All posts by Matt Wilson

3 things internal employee email broadcasts will accomplish

In the day-to-day work of internal communications, it is easy to get lost in the details.

While expending all your energy on the need-to-know announcement of the week and finishing your routine communications programs, it’s important not to forget the big picture. The immediate work is important and you have pressing deadlines, so consider how to balance your routine work in service of larger, overarching objectives. Most communications can serve more than one purpose.

Remember your employee communications team is not made up of order takers, but drivers of business objectives. Whether you plan it intentionally or not, your communications are going to accomplish these three things.

1. Establish business goals.

One of communications’ big goals should be…goals. Here’s what we wrote about connecting employees with the company mission back in December:

Engaging employees isn’t something that just happens, and there is no trickery, bribery or shiniest new tool that makes it happen. It comes by making a real connection with employees, who then buy into your organization’s business goals. When they become believers, they are engaged.

Employees will read between the lines. So embedded within your announcements of the day, news of the week or messages from executives, your messages will answer important employee questions like “What are we all working toward?” and “How do I fit into the big picture” and “How do I understand what’s happening?”

When communicators are not intentional, employees will create their own answers. When news is irrelevant, when strategy is unclear, when management is not open and honest, employees have their communicators can answer these questions intentionally and often, always pointing towards your objective.

Harvard Business Review describes this as inspiring employees to “have the brand vision.”

“The messages should be directed at employee ‘touch-points,’ the day-to-day interactions that influence the way people experience the workplace,” HBR suggests.
This shows you can exert more influence in the email you send every day.

2. Frame employee mindset.

Graham Erickson, chief strategy officer for digital agency Modus, wrote on that internal communication “should be rooted in an open, company-wide dialogue.” That doesn’t mean you want reply-all discussions on every email you send, but you should ask for and enable feedback. Communicators must understand how messages are being received and understood by various audiences, then adjusting messaging based on that feedback.

One big-picture goal is to establish a positive employee attitude.

Regular employee feedback from measurement tools, employee surveys, focus groups, one-on-one meetings, impromptu polls or other methods will establish a learning environment for both sides. It will let employees know their opinions and ideas have value. Plus, it will help communicators make better decisions on the targeting, tools, channels, language and word selection to meet your audience and objectives.

By offering employees information they prefer to consume, you’re not just getting them on board with your brand vision, you’re getting them excited about it.

3. Drive behavior.

A strong communications strategy has valuable benefits, David Grossman of communications firm The Grossman Group writes. Employees and managers will be more plugged into the ecosystem of the organization. They’ll understand each other better. And that will lead to a culture of continuous improvement.

“When they see you making that extra effort, they’ll do the same,” Grossman writes. “By moving away from lip service and toward positive action, you drive positive business results.”

How employees think will determine how they act. When you share stories of other employees taking a hero’s journey and accomplishing something of value, whether for themselves or the business, you reflect company values, the benefits of participation and model behavior.

This does more than just get out the company news. It makes a difference.

Communications will influence deliberately or aimlessly. If that announcement you’re being asked to produce can’t be made to also serve the broader picture, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it. Routinely reinforcing your key messages and business objectives, even within seemingly mundane communications, will create positive change in your organization.

What does leadership want to see from internal communications?

Internal communications haven’t always been a top priority for executives, but there are signs that status is changing.

In a post on his blog, executive recruiter and speaker John G. Self explains how things used to be:

In far too many organizations, the job of internal communications has been assigned to someone in PR — a good writer who also held several other responsibilities. They were buried in the organization and had little or no responsibility for strategy or contact with the “brass” in the C-suite. In essence, internal communications was an important after thought, not a valuable resource for the CEO and his team to use in improving employee engagement.

Now, smart CEOs are figuring out that internal communications are an integral part of their own job success, Self writes. Here are a few key results executives are increasingly looking to see:

1. A cohesive corporate culture working toward shared goals.

According to research from Metrus Group, only 14 percent of employees understand their organization’s overarching strategies. That’s far too low. Executives with big ideas and sweeping plans need employees who are on the same page and share their philosophy to really make those plans soar.

“The cornerstone of effective execution is awareness and understanding,” James O’Mara writes on the OnMessage blog. “This can only be achieved through persistent and consistent communication of the strategy.”

Communications strategist Doug Poretz adds, “Regardless of the exact situation, the players in the Knowledge Economy team do their work not as an episodic event in a series of episodic events but as parts of a dynamic team of collaborators.”

2. Employee retention and recruitment.

This goes hand-in-hand with a cohesive, engaging culture. The more invested in their work employees feel, the more likely they are to stay. It also boosts your organization’s reputation, which means the top recruits are more likely to want to work there.

Self breaks it down like this:

When companies fail to communicate effectively, this contributes to employee turnover. The cost of turnover is damned expensive even though few companies report it on their income statements. Not reporting this expense is not reason to maintain the status quo…In highly competitive industries in highly competitive markets, there will be important winners and big losers. The winners will be those organizations with the best employees who are fully engaged in their work and their company.

3. Creating employee leaders and advocates.

Along with alignment with company values, the Institute for Public Relations lists this as a reason for executive-level involvement in internal communications: “identify, describe, and celebrate role models among employees.” It also defines employee advocacy as “the voluntary promotion or defense of a company, its products, or its brands by an employee externally.”

Executives and PR reps can’t be the only cheerleaders for a company. An effective internal communications strategy can bring the advocates an organization already has to the fore, and give them the tools they need to amplify the message.

4. Knowing what they don’t know.

A good internal communication strategy includes measurement. Metrics such as reach and frequency across the various communications channels identify what messages are being delivered to which audience segments. By measuring interactions, repetitions of key phrases and storylines, sentiment analysis, feedback, and simple survey responses, communicators and executives can understand, objectively, how employees are responding to and engaging with your communications. Measurement enables learning what works best to spark employee interest and put an exchange of ideas in motion.

With that information in hand, executives and their communication advisors can craft language and execute plans that move the culture and performance of the organization at large.

Purpose, process, payoff: Aligning internal comms to business goals

Have you heard this one before: “Companies with engaged employees outperform those without?”

That’s a fact—and it is a fact, according to the American Marketing Association—that gets thrown around a lot among communicators. But what does it really mean? What’s the key to unlocking the treasure of engaged employees?

Engaging employees isn’t something that just happens, and there is no trickery, bribery or shiniest new tool that makes it happen. It comes by making a real connection with employees, who then buy into your organization’s business goals. When they become believers, they are engaged.

And that’s no easy task. According to research from HubSpot, more than half of internal communications professionals (54 percent) said one of their biggest challenges is gaining buy-in from employees.

Big challenge, big rewards. How can communications help to engage employees and the added company performance that comes with them? Here are a few tips and best practices:

Create a strategic communications plan. A blog post from internal communcations agency Tribe explains how a strategic communications plan helps align internal communications and business goals:

The strategic communications plan helps to keep everyone moving in the same direction. It’s what provides the structure on which you can build employee engagement in reaching those business objectives…Even before you start developing your messaging, you’ve begun to pave the way for changing employee behavior.

Listen. Employees want to know they’re being heard. It’s that simple. You can’t ask someone to buy into your goals if you aren’t attentive to their needs. In a white paper, Janson Communications offers this advice:

If internal audiences are constantly on the receiving end and seldom or never get the opportunity to “be heard,” the messages will become less genuine. When employees are given the chance to share their opinions and that information is used appropriately, a foundation of trust is built.

Measure. Listen to what employees say, but also pay attention to what they do. Which channels do they prefer? (According to HubSpot and PoliteMail, email is still the most popular channel.) What types of messages do they like? What do they respond to? Make adjustments to communicate with them in the ways they want with the content they need and find most useful.

Speak to employees as individuals. When you ask someone to buy into an idea or a way of thinking, there’s one important question you must answer: “What’s in it for me?” Be sure you let your employees know what the benefits to them of engagement are. The answer won’t be the same for everyone, so align your messaging with specific segments of our audience according to their roles and interests. While some may be satisfied with an answer about the health of the organization, others may want something else. Be upfront about all the risks and benefits.

What is the secret recipe for employee engagement? There really isn’t one magic bullet, but communications, culture, community and clear objectives are the keys. Communicating with employees on their terms, explaining what the business wants and why, and asking them what they want and taking that into consideration is the way forward.

To learn more about how organizations like yours are successfully communicating with employees, download PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

5 predictions for internal communications in 2018

PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey  made it fairly clear that the past few years have carried some uncertainty for communications professionals.

Nearly 40 percent of communications pros said they were only measuring a few communications efforts or weren’t measuring at all. Most (59 percent) were unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the measurement their employers used. Lack of time, tools and budget were all major pain points.

What’s in store for 2018? Hopefully, some clarity. Here are five specific areas where change may very well be on the way:

1. Data will drive decisions.

Though not everyone who replied to our survey last year was satisfied with their measurement tools—or used any at all—data will increasingly become the key driver for communications decisions. What channels do employees use? What do they prefer? What types of emails do they open and read? The more concrete your answer to these questions, the better use you can make of your resources. Leaders are becoming more aware of that, especially when budgets aren’t growing. It’s why CEB offers this survey to help leaders use data to make budget choices.

2. Employees will step up.

Communication can’t just come from the top-down anymore. Research shows that people trust their colleagues more than their bosses. So colleagues will have to be the messengers. “Businesses will have ambassadors or advocates who will feedback key messages amongst their team,” UK-based agency Global Group suggests in a blog post. “An advantage of this form of communication—peer-to-peer content—is that it builds trust amongst your team.”

3. Employees will offer their feedback.

In a world where consumers are increasingly having their say, employees will (and already have) come to expect the same sort of attentiveness. At Business2Community, Mark Miller writes, “Fostering a workspace where employee engagement and feedback is encouraged allows employees to learn from each other and only benefit them and the company as a whole.”

4. New channels will emerge…

This year saw a big increase in the use of video for internal communications, as well as the rise of internal mobile apps and enterprise social networks. The year to come is sure to bring new channels and methods of communication to bear, and communicators will once again have to decide if these new channels work for them and their organizations or not.

5. …but they won’t replace what already works.

What’s become apparent over the years and will remain true in 2018 is that new channels and avenues for communication are supplemental to the communications tools that employees and communicators rely on. Nothing will replace targeted emails and newsletters, but those communication methods will work in tandem with whatever comes down the pipeline. Plus, analytics tools and tools for email distribution will continue to improve, providing communicators with the information they need.

Is anyone really using your intranet?

To put it mildly, there is some disagreement among communicators about the effectiveness of intranets.

To some, they’re invaluable. Others say they’re outdated and, in a word, dead.

The truth seems to be somewhere in between, but they’re definitely not used as widely as some communicators might like. According to a survey from Presicent Digital Media, even as far back as 2012, only 13 percent of employees said they use their intranets every day. Nearly one third (31 percent) said they never use it at all.

Yet even with what seems to be lacking interest, intranets are highly used by communicators. PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results show that communicators rank intranets as the second most-used communications tool after email. Only six percent of respondents said they don’t use it at all.

What, then, are communicators to do when they’re aiming (or perhaps being pushed) to make the intranet a centerpiece communications strategy even as employees and other stakeholders seem to be only somewhat interested, if at all?

Perhaps it requires a change in perspective. Though some communicators consider them to be, intranets are not the end-all, be-all of internal communication. And they’re not a replacement for email, though some have tried to market them that way. An intranet should be one part of a broad communications approach.

Intranets and email don’t have to be an either/or proposition. Indeed, our own research bears out that most communicators use both on a day-to-day basis. With that being the case, they should work hand-in-hand. Social intranet provider ThoughtFarmer suggests that intranet newsletters are a highly valuable way to drive employees to the intranet.

Best practice is to use the intranet as the destination to post all your long-form content, with email best used to provide the high-level messaging with links back to the intranet articles.

That’s especially true in a world in which mobile communication is increasingly a method employees want and even demand. A survey by theEMPLOYEEapp found that employees are more likely to look to email instead of intranets if intranets aren’t mobile ready. (It also found that most employees—87 percent—prefer to receive news by email.)

If someone is trying to sell you an intranet as a replacement for email, they’re quite simply wrong. Emails are the best possible way to drive more engagement on your intranet, hands down.

Are mobile apps for internal communication really worth it?

According to a 2016 Employeechannel survey, 57 percent of HR leaders across the United States say they’re evaluating mobile apps for communicating with employees. Even more staggering: 87 percent of employees said they would use a mobile app for internal communications if one was available.

But what does that mean, really? It definitely doesn’t mean employees want to be force-fed an app that doesn’t help them do they things they normally do day-to-day.

Often, that’s what’s happening when leaders make pushes to bring mobile apps into the communications fold. In an interview with Marginalia, Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research says businesses often just go for something trendy.

“Sometimes, organizations just buy a solution that looks good, but when they try to implement it, they cannot connect it to the existing data,” Lopez says. “At that point, the company realizes that it has to buy another solution, wasting time and money.”

So what does that 87 percent of employees who say they would use a mobile app really want? There’s no way to know from the survey data, but Connecteam offers this advice: “the best app is the one that most easily fits into the processes your employees are already used to.”

That’s why business leaders and communicators looking to add mobile communications to their employee engagement plans should consider starting with the easiest, most cost effective, and certainly most often over-looked mobile communication app out there – email.

All you need is an email address for every employee, even if they don’t work at a desk. That is certainly a more inclusive approach, and once that aligns with the current communication trends. According to PoliteMail’s 2017 Email Metrics Benchmark survey, mobile access of email has grown 48 percent since 2015.

The most important considerations when choosing an app is not selecting the one with the most buzz or best sales pitch. Generally companies will consider cost and features, but often forget to consider the most expensive item.

In terms of cost, you can expect apps to run roughly $3 to $4 per user per month. In terms of features, generally employees want access to work schedules, benefits information, PTO and company news.

The forgotten but significant cost consideration is process. How will you get the data and information into the app and push it out? Generally these are not systems that are in place. So who is going to configure and support it? Will it be secure? How much extra work does it create for the communications team once it’s up and running?

Trying to shoehorn in a buzzworthy app that does not provide satisfactory answers to all those questions might be far more trouble than it’s worth. Careers rarely advance as a result of sponsoring expensive, under-utilized shiny new things with low adoption rates.

There is certainly a growing appetite for mobile internal communications, yet it doesn’t have to be totally brand new to be successful. Start simply and give employees a way of comfortably and reliably receiving and responding to communications in the palms of their hands.

Learn more about how organizations are communicating with employees by downloading PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

7 tips to increase email recipients’ time on page

If you’ve ever kept tabs on your blog or web readership using an analytics tool, you likely know a key performance metric is “time on page,” a measure of how long the average reader spent on a particular piece of content.

Did they just skim it, read it or quickly click away? Read time or time-on-page is a good way to know if your readers are engaging with your content.

And though it’s a metric often associated with blogs and web pages, it’s just as valuable for other types of written content, namely, email. For internal communicators, knowing if and how long employees are reading an email can be the difference between knowing a message was received or ignored.

Here are seven ways internal communications professionals can keep those readership numbers high:

1. Write compelling content.

To put it simply, readers won’t keep something open if it isn’t worth reading. In a post on its blog, online advertising software firm WordStream makes the point that content should be three things: useful, entertaining and accessible. Make your content digestible (more on that in a minute), but don’t be afraid to write it in a relatable voice.

2. Design for different devices.

According to Litmus, a company that specializes in email previews, people’s email attention spans are actually growing. But communicators should still do all they can to gain and hold readers’ attention. Given the growth in email on mobile devices, one way to do that is using responsive design.

3. Use images, but not exclusively.

Content creators know good imagery and graphics is proven to draw eyeballs, but overloading an email with an image or using obvious stock imagery that doesn’t complement the content may hurt more than help. Word content should be text, and images should visually accentuate the story. According to Quicksprout, the most popular pages have an image for every 350 words or so.

4. Display quickly.

If readers see gray boxes or red x’s instead of images, it’s more likely they’ll click away before they read a word. Images are sometimes blocked from email, particularly when you are using external email marketing tools. Some mobile devices such as iPhones will only download 250KB of images automatically. For email to work effectively, the images need to display automatically and quickly. So it’s important to balance images with text and to size images down to screen pixel depths.

5. Break up your content.

Long paragraphs and monolithic walls of text are not inviting to someone opening an email. Email is for processing, and readers’ eyes need to be able to scan chunks of content. That requires effective use of white space to break up the text, not just paragraph breaks. Chloe Digital suggests using H2 and H3 subheadings, bullets, numbered lists, and bold text to add visual diversity.

6. Use the “inverted pyramid.”

Put the most important information or action request right in the headline and subhead. Don’t leave your readers frustrated because your email isn’t getting to the point. Torque magazine suggests using the content structure newspapers have employed for centuries, putting the most important information in the first few paragraphs, then adding increasing details of decreasing importance thereafter.

7. Check for clear, simple language.

Before you hit “send,” consider running the message through a readability checker to see if your content is easy to read or a bit of a slog. The easier it is to read—less jargon, fewer acroynms, less complex sentence structure and word choices, and the higher it scores on the Flesch Reading Ease scale—and the more likely it will be that your message is read and understood.

Learn more about how communicators are measuring their communications efforts by downloading PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

Quantitative or Qualitative: How surveys and focus groups help measure internal communications effectiveness

After making the sometimes arduous decisions of which internal communications channels and programs are the best for your organization, the question of “Is it working?” lingers for comms professionals.

There are two viable measurement methods for answering that question.

First there isthe quantitative data, which comes in the form of metrics and analytics gathered from your organization’s use of email, intranet pages, mobile pages and other communication tools. Qualitative data will tell you how many employees are reading an email message or regularly utilizing your intranet site. What that doesn’t tell you is why, and that’s is where qualitative data comes in.

Qualitative data is the internal communications feedback you get direct from employees by conducting surveys and focus groups. Qualitative data, using properly formed questions, can tell you why employees participate or now, and how they feel about the channel, program or campaign.

While surveys and focus groups are equally worthwhile methods of gathering qualitative information, each one achieves different things. Quantum Workplace points out the difference:

Often the employee survey itself simply uncovers weaknesses and strengths, but it doesn’t always point to action steps for improvements. This is the next part of the conversation and where employee focus groups can provide insight on how to improve employee engagement.

A broad survey of hundreds or thousands of people can often serve as a starting point for digging deeper using focus groups of 10 to 12 employees, Quantum Workplace’s article suggests.

The Society for Human Resource Management has provided a detailed, six-step outline communicators can use to set up an employee focus group, starting with choosing a purpose statement, through developing questions, to selecting a facilitator, inviting participants, holding the actual meeting, and then analyzing the findings.

SHRM’s guide suggests that “a productive focus group is much more than a chat session,” and requires care and planning to make sure the results are useful.

Surveys, likewise, require careful planning. The way a question is worded will impact not only the answer, but how participates feel. In many ways, communicators must consider the tone of a survey just like they do other communications. According to Custom Insight, “communicating and establishing trust will also increase the survey response rate as well as the candor of the responses.”

Like SHRM’s focus group guide, Custom Insight provides a planning guide for surveys, with tips for alerting employees that the survey is coming, then combing the results for information that can improve internal communications.

In a post on his blog, internal communications expert Shel Holtz notes that it’s important for communicators to not just ask employees about tools and features they currently use; they should describe possibilities that could come in the form of new tools:

If the responses come back pointing toward a mobile app or mobile version of an internal social network, you’ll know all you need to: You’ll know that employees don’t yet know what delivery mechanism they want. It is up to internal communicators to make that mechanism available.

Surveys and focus groups go hand-in-hand. According to Quantum Workplace, employees who receive follow-ups after a survey (possibly in the form of a focus group) are 12 times more engaged than those who have no follow-up.

To learn more about how communicators are measuring their communications efforts, download PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

How to engage a multi-generational workforce

By 2020—not too far off—five different generations will be represented in the workforce, and they’ll all have different communication styles.

Traditionalists who were born before 1946, will be sharing office space with Gen 2020, people born after 1997. And of course, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials will be in the mix, too. The first generation to embrace television will be shoulder-to-shoulder with generations for whom a world without smartphones feels like ancient history.

That presents a challenge for communicators who need to effectively message all those employees so they’re all working toward a common goal. How do you get everyone engaged, with shared purpose?

It’ll likely take a multi-pronged approach. According to Staff Management, it’s not just about technological differences. Members of different generations have different values, with some expecting a more hands-off approach, while others want regular feedback and recognition. Staff management advocates for trying lots of approaches:

In a multigenerational environment, it is wise to mix and match strategies like the team-building events favored by younger workers and the opinion-sharing practices promoted by their older counterparts. Younger generations might feel more comfortable communicating their thoughts when they feel like they know their coworkers, while older generations might need a structured forum in order to weigh in on key decisions.

Staff Management also recommends face-to-face interactions, as does Dana Brownlee, founder of training and management consulting firm Professionalism Matters, in an article in Business News Daily: “Bringing staff members of different generations together for face-to-face team-building exercises and ice breakers can help break down some of the barriers that can occur with digital communications.”

That same Business News Daily article warns that communicators and business leaders shouldn’t get bogged down in stereotypes. While workers of different ages will certainly have different methods and ideas, it isn’t fair to underestimate them or assume they’ll have certain flaws.

In another article at Forbes, corporate trainer Dana Brownlee notes, “It becomes very frustrating when you communicate with someone in a mode that they don’t like.” She advises that “workers across all age groups to individualize their approach by learning their coworkers’ preferences and attempting to meet in the middle.”

Once again, that likely means using numerous channels to communicate with employees, since face-to-face communication isn’t often the most feasible way to stay connected. It also means delivering messages through different platforms.

For example, consider sending emails that can be read across different devices. While some older employees may prefer to read email on a desktop computer, sending mobile-optmized emails means employees who prefer to view messages on their smartphones will get what they want, too.

Learn more about how communicators are measuring which internal communications work best by downloading PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

7 tips to justify internal comms measurement to business leaders

Most people who have worked in internal communications for a good amount of time are likely aware that top executives aren’t totally sold on the idea of making the effort to measure it.

In PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey, 25 percent of the communicators surveyed said the biggest challenge to measuring internal communications was that leadership didn’t see the value in it or doesn’t view it as a priority.

Yet 54 percent also said that measurement is valuable because it makes it easier to persuade C-suite executives to make good communication decisions.

Measurement justifies further measurement. That means communicators must be smart with the resources they have to prove why top business leaders should make measurement a cornerstone part of their corporate communications.

Here are seven tips that help make the case:

1. Go beyond “awareness.”

In an article for the Institute for Public Relations, Ethan McCarty, Global Head of Employee and Innovation Communications for Bloomberg, argues that “awareness is just one arrow in our quiver.” Communicators must show executives the business outcomes that arise from that awareness, not just prove that employees know more.

2. Demonstrate how information moves.

To build on McCarty’s point, internal communications are the most effective when messages don’t just move from the top down, but flow between employees and out into the world in a positive way. If you can show that employees are engaged and being activated to speak up, executives can instantly see the value. It can also change the culture. “The combination of openness and the easy flow of communication to everyone combine to make people feel like part of a coherent whole,” states the University of Kansas’ Community Tool Box section on internal communication.

3. Prove that the internal audience is unique.

The notion that internal communications are not PR may seem obvious, but it isn’t always immediately apparent to top-level leaders. You have to show them. “The models employed by strategy-focused internal communicators are…vastly different from the earned-media models that occupy most of the time of most PR practitioners,” communications expert Shel Holtz writes at his blog. With surveys and other tools, you can show that.

4. Show what you’re learning.

Measurement doesn’t mean much if the numbers aren’t being put to use. The people in the C-suite need to know communicators are changing up their strategies based on the metrics. In a LinkedIn post, Stuart Z. Goldstein, former managing director of corporate communications and public affairs at Depository Trust & Clearing, puts it this way: “Research won’t win the budget battles by itself, but it does provide a valuable lobbying tool, and it signals to management that corporate communications is learning from best practices.”

5. Drop what isn’t working.

Trying new things is really important, but executives aren’t going to stand for adding one thing on top of the other. If commuicators can show that measuring results has led to them dropping some less-than-effective channels to make room for the new stuff, it can prove that resources are being used more wisely.

6. Give examples of how it helped solve problems.

The KU Community Toolbox bluntly states, “Problems can be resolved, but only if they’re identified and acknowledged.” How do you identify them? Measurement. Show executives where you’ve pinpointed problems—perhaps email messages weren’t formatted in the most appealing way—and fixed them through employee feedback.

7. Participate in “strategic marketing.”

Goldstein says most communications reporting is viewed as “drudgery.” Don’t make yours a slog to get through. Serve up a road map that directly ties the metrics you’re presenting to business goals. “This approach addresses management’s question about ROI quite directly and is a powerful way to sell the value of corporate communications,” he writes.