What I Learned From Being an (Internal) Journalist

I'm a writer. You all know that because you're sitting on the other side of a computer reading my writing. To which I say:

As a professional internal communicator, it can be easy to forget the rules of communication. Internal feels "safer" but it rarely is with an audience of 60,000+ employees. Building appropriate, relevant, and exciting content on our internal platform requires an authenticity you can't get when communicating externally. Everyone reading your writing shares one key experience with you: being employed by the same company.

To that end, there's a few things I've learned as an internal roving reporter worth sharing, whether your focus is internal or external:

1. Be Everyone's Cheerleader

In a large company with too many business units and groups to count, staying positive opens up the doors to innovation. Showcasing the accomplishments of other teams--and congratulating those who deserve it---pulls individual contributors out from the anonymity they operate in on a daily basis. We all seek praise and approval (regardless of whether or not you're a millennial) and being recognized for your hard work feels good. Build positive camaraderie, even with colleagues thousands of miles away.

2. Explain It Like You Would to a Friend

Think about what you want to share about your project, promotion, or product. Now, imagine yourself explaining it to a young daughter, cousin, or close friend in another industry. Speak what you want to say as if it were out loud. Then, write it down exactly as if you would speak it. Take out the ums, likes, y'knows, and grammar errors, and you've got yourself a piece. 

This doesn't mean simplifying your story to the point of worthlessness--far from it. Put yourself in the shoes of an uninformed but intelligent audience (your coworkers) and tell them what you know. Keep it friendly and informative. That's what great communication is about.

3. Keep It Short

Our collective attention spans shorten every year. Even though there's so many interesting details you have to share, go back to the point above: would your friend at the bar really benefit by knowing it? Or would it just confuse or cloud your point? There's a reason why "Keep it simple, stupid" has persisted over the years. Be concise. 

4. Add a Personal Touch

Make  your content relevant to your audience by adding a personal touch. "Strictly business" doesn't work anymore in our new workplaces. Coworkers, like anyone else, are humans, after all. We all seek connection.

Bring it back to a story, rather than stating the facts. If you can, use direct address--or the style of framing your piece with "you" rather than "I"--bringing you closer to your reader, and allows them to put themselves in your shoes.

5. Always Include a Call to Action

Ultimately, we design communications to drive action. Include a call to action, whatever it may be. In the case of most of our internal communications, that's to learn more on our internal page, or comment below with their opinion (see personal touch, above). Leaving out the call to action leaves a piece hanging and doesn't provide the closure your readers crave.

This is your mic drop. So drop it.

Ok, I'll practice what I preach (drumroll for the CTA):

And so, I want to know from you: what did I miss? How do you best internally communicate? Tell me on twitter @kllewkow.