5 Tips on Writing Internal Communications

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Writing well remains Job One for communicators who want to boost the odds of getting their story pitches some media coverage. A poorly written press release (or email or tweet for that matter), decreases the odds that a reporter, editor or news producer will pay attention to your pitch in the first place

But writing in clear, concise terms is equally important for employee communications. In a social-media age, when your colleagues are your brand ambassadors, PR pros also have to make sure that internal communications don’t get short shrift.

Whether it’s an internal memo, a universal email to the staff or a letter to the troops that that you have written on behalf of a C-level executive, internal communications can spell the difference between whether your employees are on board with a new program or event, for example, or simply confused by the message and don’t know what to do with it.

Social channels, of course, have changed the tenor of internal communications. They’ve made it easier for the rank and file to feel vested in the brand and play a more critical role in pushing the message out to external stakeholders.

With that in mind, we offer several tips on how to write internal communications that will excite your colleagues rather than make their eyes glaze over:

  • Don’t write in corporate-speak, but in conversational tones that everyone in the building can appreciate.
  • Keep it short and sweet. If you can’t say it a page or less, a meeting may be the more appropriate way to go. (Remember, the Gettysburg Address was just 272 words.)
  • In conveying messages from the C-suite, don’t bog down the memo, email, etc. with statistics from a spreadsheet. Put the numbers into context and make any references to revenue and/or earnings part of the overall narrative.
  • Try and infuse written communications with a little humor, but not at the expense of the overall message. For well-functioning companies, people don’t take themselves too seriously, but they do take the work seriously.
  • Harness your intranet and social channels to give employees the opportunity to chime in on the contents of the memo and how well it was received. Call it perpetual beta, in which you are constantly testing the reaction among employees with the hope of making internal communications more impactful.

What do you think? What are we missing when it comes to writing effective internal communications?

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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  • @repstrat

    6) Write it assuming that it will be posted, verbatim or excerpted, online (and that your local media outlets will receive it and read it before everyone on the staff does.