Back in the day, every internal communicator knew this Golden Rule: Don’t write anything in an internal memo that you don’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper the next day. This little reminder is of course outdated for a variety of reasons. Memos have been replaced by e-mails and embarrassing viral social media messages are more worrisome than newspapers for most brands. But it goes even deeper. The old Golden Rule reflects an emphasis on external audiences with no regard for how employees might think or react.
Well, it’s time for a new rule that acknowledges this truth: Internal and external communication overlap. Employees communicate with customers, friends, family and others in the community in a variety of ways. At the same time, they receive messages from a wide variety of external sources. So the New Golden Rule is this: Internal and external messages must be aligned. That means every internal communication must be crafted as if it will be received by external sources, and every external communication should be crafted as if employees will receive it.
Here’s an example of how an external message can be modified to align with internal strategies:
- Original Message: “Our highly successful year is the result of the improving economy and the implementation of our expansion strategy.”
- Aligned Message: “Our highly successful year is the result of the improving economy, the implementation of our expansion strategy and a lot of hard work by our dedicated employees who are the best in the industry.”
Internal communication is an opportunity to provide your employee ambassadors with some great external messaging. Such messages are often more credible coming from the employees themselves. Likewise, don’t miss the opportunity in external communication to deliver powerful messages to your employees. These messages may have a greater impact when received from an external source.
Message alignment is a golden opportunity. Don’t miss it.
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