Who do you think you’re talking to?

Communicating with the factory floor is a challenge worth getting right.

As communications professionals, we often forget there’s a world outside of the marketing and PR bubble. There are technical people out there who spend their day doing practical, tangible things. People who have different priorities and whose reality doesn’t end with a full stop.

When it comes to internal communications especially, we need to ask ourselves whether the content we’re producing is as inclusive as it could or should be. Just because something looks good in Word doesn’t necessarily mean it will be appreciated – or even read – by a lab technician or an engineer working a 10-hour shift on a factory floor.

Naturally, speaking to people whose experiences and backgrounds differ from our own isn’t easy. Here are our top tips for making internal employee communications as engaging and relevant as possible for a broad audience.

  1. Get to the point

Firstly, resist the temptation to overwrite by providing information that sounds nice but is ultimately non-essential. Witty wordplay and flowery lead-ins may go down well with colleagues in the marketing department, but they can lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

Ultimately, it comes down how your audience is being affected by what’s being said. Think: what’s the most important information this person needs to hear? Then start with that.

  1. Provide context

At the same time, don’t assume that the person engaging with your content knows exactly what’s going on in the C-suite, or that they’ve been avidly tracking the roll-out of the new marketing vision.

Avoid generalised statements like, “In line with our new business development strategy…” or, “Due to the challenging economic climate…”.  Provide a proper explanation: specifically, what aspect of your strategy or the economy is driving this decision?

  1. Use multiple channels

Likewise, sending an email to someone who spends all day in a laboratory or factory floor is no guarantee that it’s going to be read. Consider using a range of different channels: letters, noticeboards, vlogs, interactive games, or even good old-fashioned face-to-face communication. Whatever it takes to make sure the message gets through.

  1. Avoid spin

Working in communications hardwires us to make things sound great even when they aren’t. Give us a layoff or a disappointing quarterly result and we’ll immediately look for the silver lining. This may work in investor relations, but it’s not helping the employee whose role is being affected. Avoid trying to “spin” news or tell people what they should be feeling.

  1. Keep it simple, stupid

Finally: not everyone has the same educational background or cultural upbringing. To maximise internal reach, keep your internal communication as simple as possible – but not simpler. Above all, remember that no message could be simpler than when it connects to the heart, so – if in doubt – stay cheery and light.

At Baxter Lawley, many of our clients are engaged in manufacturing, engineering, science and other technical disciplines. Our team of native-English copywriters work closely with our clients’ internal communications teams to help deliver well-crafted, relevant messages and content to employees around the world and in all parts of their organisation. Get in touch with us to explore how we can help you.

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By |August 23rd, 2018|Tips & insights|Comments Off on Who do you think you’re talking to?

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