Maximum effort: Why CMO’s should up the focus on internal comms

Rick Harrison

Head of Strategy

23 September 2016

You’ve identified a problem, you know the solution you’d like and now you just need your team to engage with it. How are you going to do that? If you are anything like most companies you’ll send an email, or put something on the intranet. After all, that gets the message across, right? And these are your staff, they’re committed, invested in the company success; they’ll get it and they’ll act on it.


Or maybe they won’t, because they are human beings and they have ways of doing things, they have ways of deciding what is important and an inbuilt system for categorising those things. So an email can’t be as important as the finance message that is hammered home at every town hall, a suggested change to communications can be rationalised into what they are already doing and at the end of the day, if it was really important there would have been more effort put into the delivery, or it will get repeated. Probably ok to carry on as normal.


And that, unfortunately, is the best case, because there’s a good chance that they never read it at all, only 13% of employees engage with their company intranet everyday, 31% never go there at all, as for email, 30% actively ignore emails from their employers.


Your employees, like your customers, have grown used to having excellent experiences delivered to them as standard. They are used to living in a visually rich world, with information on demand and where essential information is reiterated and delivered to them in inventive, imaginative and creative ways. Important things come decked in great visuals, with snappy messaging and are reiterated, endlessly, so that they can retain the essentials.


They are drowning in digital communications just like everyone else and they have developed effective systems for prioritising and responding to the demands on their time from the stream of digital interruptions, not least the 90 emails they receive at work everyday. Their priorities and yours are unlikely to be the same, so while you want to get the new brand messaging embedded to support the latest campaign activity, they want to make sure they hit their objective of responding to all client emails within 24 hours; internal communications aren’t simply low on the priority list, they may well be spam in their world.


The environment in which your internal comms are being received is complex, noisy, surrounded by commercial messaging, internal process, office politics, default behaviours and things that are ‘known’. So how are you going to get the cut through you need for your new initiative to land? The initiative that is going to influence how your team interact with your customers and give life and the essential component of truth to the external campaigns that you are running. You’re going to need to be creative.


Creative for your company might be environmental signage, it could be direct mail, it could be video, stand up meetings or getting offsite. But you should view communicating internally as a campaign in its own right and make sure you communicate in a way that is memorable, provides the methods for employees to retain, retrieve and review the information; whether that’s the intranet, a booklet, stickers or wall graphics.


If it’s important you are going to have to demonstrate that it’s important. In a world where the incremental cost of an email or powerpoint slide is known to be zero, the time and energy invested in doing something different communicates loudly.


Think about your internal audience as you do your customers, work out how you intend to make an impression and then make the effort to deliver for them. Why? Because if they get it, they will deliver it for you; your customers will see the brand promises you made, made real. That will transform the results of your external campaigns too.


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