Open Menu
Strategic Consultancy

Why cookie-cutter communications never work

Back to our blog

If you work in corporate communications, it’s likely the following sounds eerily familiar. “I’m too busy doing actual work to read company announcements. Plus, the comms about our company and values just feels like words on a page” 

It’s frustrating to discover employees aren’t connecting with communications, but we’ll let you in on a secret. The reactions of your employees (or lack of) is usually the symptom of a one size fits all communications approach that just needs a little tweaking. And, here’s how you can do it.

Know your audience

For most companies the workforce is made up of multiple demographics in a range of very different roles. Imagine you were a consumer brand you would never target millennials and baby boomers with the same campaign. So, why do people communicate with their diverse workforce by using a blanket approach?
We understand that workforce size, resourcing and budget can stop an employer brand from hyper-targeting their audiences, but best-practice communication can still apply.

Where possible, use MAPT:

(M) Right Message

(A) Right Audience

(P) Right Place

(T) Right Time

These principles are paramount because they create relevance for the audience when applied to any employee communications strategy. If you tailor the communication and serve it in the right environment, at the right time, employees will engage because there is a clear link between them, their role and the communication.

Ready to start developing or refining your employee communications? These few critical steps will help to ensure solid foundations on which to build an effective strategy:

Talk to your people and analyse

Understanding current perceptions and engagement behaviours of employees will help you to understand the most effective ways to communicate while allowing for the setting of a baseline measure.

Questions you may ask include:

  • How do your people feel about current communications?
  • What’s working? What’s not?
  • Which channels are gaining the most cut-through?
  • What is the email open rate?
  • How many employees are logging onto the intranet each week?
  • How often are communications shared or commented on?
  • Are there any trends in the type of content that is driving the most engagement?

Set SMART goals

Use specific, measurable and time bound goals to ensure focus and clarity.

Questions you may ask may include:

  • What is the purpose of people communications?
  • How does it support the business strategy?
  • How will success be demonstrated?
  • By when do we hope to achieve this?

Conduct a channel audit

Map the employee communications channels by engagement and overlay this with both job family and demographic insight.

Questions you may ask include:

  • Are there any trends in how different employee demographics are choosing to engage with the business?
  • Are there any communications channels that are not accessible to certain employees in remote locations?
  • Which is the most and least engaged communications channel?
  • Are there any channels that we’re investing a lot of time of money in that are not receiving any engagement and need to be reviewed?

Plan and prioritise your employee communications needs

Get clear on what employees need to know and what would be nice to know, then plan in advance when they need to know both with a communications timeline.

A holistic view will enable you to scale the comms efforts according to the level of business impact.

Questions you may ask include:

  • What is mandatory and nice to have?
  • When will we go out to all employees and when can we target certain employee groups? What channels will we need to use to get the message out based on comms audit learnings?
  • When should this be communicated?
  • What activities are intrinsically linked to the delivery of the business strategy?

Once you have developed your plan, it’s time to optimise. Ensure to develop a monthly employee communications report, which reviews communications effectiveness in order to drive continual improvement.

We Are Unity help Australia’s biggest companies gain cut-through with their employees through strategic and creative communications — and we’d love to help you do the same.

To find out how we bring strategic communications and organisational psychology together, email our Strategist Rachel for a cuppa (or an espresso martini) at rachel@weareunity.com.


September 10, 2019, We Are Unity