How to Strengthen Corporate Messaging
As a PR professional or an internal communicator (IC), you may be familiar with the struggles that occur when you’re siloed from human resources. Behind the scenes, you might experience things like inefficient information sharing and imbalanced message scheduling. Such a disconnect may result in inconsistent or inaccurate corporate communications campaigns and messaging.
Whatever your audience, inconsistent or inaccurate messaging can be costly for all three departments. Inaccurate or early media messaging raises numerous employee questions, causing an influx of inquiries and required answers from HR, giving their teams less time to recruit candidates and help employees thrive.
To correct the spread of misinformation, IC may have to redirect their efforts to write and distribute corrections or apologies rather than work on their existing programs creating engaging content. PR teams may have to deal with negative coverage or corrections.
Although there have always been intersections within these departments, the pandemic has magnified both the overlaps and the disconnects. In an effort to release accurate and consistent health information related to COVID-19, HR, PR and IC have had to collaborate in more intentional and strategic ways.
If you want to strengthen your corporate messaging by aligning HR, PR and IC more closely, where should you begin?
A starting point
Although it may take some significant work to align these three teams, the effort is worth it. When HR, PR, and IC collaborate, all three departments can better achieve their shared goals: building and maintaining strong relationships with internal and external parties (employees, customers and media outlets), strengthening the organization’s reputation and preventing crises.
One simple, cost-effective way to start collaborating more intentionally is to organize a virtual or in-person session where HR, PR and IC can interact and get to know each other.
A breakout session can help these departments identify a topic at the intersection of the HR-PR-IC Venn diagram. This may be something simple like adding a short workplace culture segment to your employee newsletter, or something more intensive like a recognition campaign created to highlight employee stories and contributions.
Another entry point is to collaborate on a joint project to engage employees. A 2020 MetLife study suggests having “leaders and HR representatives… host virtual office hours to answer questions [about benefits].” Communicators might ask HR which benefits programs they wish more people would participate in, and offer to design a communications campaign to help achieve that objective. PR and HR may then collaborate to promote this benefits program in job postings and media placements to position the organization as a great place to work.
Lastly, in an effort to continually strengthen these relationships, HR, PR and IC should share resources — things like intranet sites, chat platforms, brand standardized page templates and email lists. All three departments have access to information and technology that the other groups could benefit from. It makes sense to combine both budgets and efforts.
A reason to collaborate
If the downside to siloed departments is inefficient information sharing, imbalanced task scheduling and miscommunication, then when HR, PR and IC work together, information sharing can become more efficient, task scheduling can become more balanced and messaging across the organization can become more cohesive.
This increased accuracy and cohesiveness can also positively affect things like employee trust and brand loyalty. Here are just a few of the benefits your organization can realize when HR, PR and IC collaborate more thoughtfully.
• HR will benefit from better messaging. Since HR is busy with onboarding, benefit programs and related compliance reports, they are less concerned with words, stories and campaigns. The MetLife study points out that a lack of awareness and understanding of employee benefits and wellness programs may limit usage, and on the flipside, employees who understand their benefits are more holistically well.
By collaborating with IC and PR, HR can leverage in-house expertise to better design, write and distribute information. More thoughtful messaging can help HR better engage employees, leading to higher participation and satisfaction rates.
• Public relations will benefit from more congruent positioning. Although HR is focused on communicating with the public, sometimes the most powerful “public” is an organization’s employees. Your people should be excited about your organization’s positioning. And the story PR tells should feel like an accurate representation of the real employee experience.
When PR teams understand what is truly happening within their organization, they can position the company more authentically — ensuring that the external company image is congruent with the internal company culture. From both a PR and HR standpoint, a brand’s reputation rests on this authenticity.
• Internal communications will benefit from better data. HR owns the current employee database: who, what and where. They also have historical data about employee turnover, regional or departmental growth, and benefits program participation. For communicators who want to better target specific audiences, this data is incredibly valuable. So, why not make friends with HR?
A resolve to strengthen your messaging and relationships
Although these departments are distinct, HR, PR and IC share similar intentions. The primary goal across departments is to build and maintain strong relationships through effective communication. By working together, these departments can write and distribute more cohesive messages, position the organization more authentically and make better data-informed decisions.
You already know the struggles that occur when HR, PR and IC are siloed. How can you collaborate in more intentional and strategic ways to strengthen your corporate messaging?