Mar 11, 2003

Effective Internal Communications Ensure Company Vitality

Rumors circulated for several months among employees at a
Midwest-based technology company that layoffs were imminent due to the economy.
Management caught wind of the rumors, but since it had no official plans for
layoffs, made no announcements to reassure employees on the assumption that the
panic would soon subside. A number of employees revised their resumes and
searched for new jobs; a few people even jumped ship, taking new positions with
competitors. Though the layoffs did not happen, the company lost several good
people, and morale suffered due to the lack of communication. A simple,
well-executed internal public relations (PR) effort such as a friendly,
confident memo from the CEO squelching rumors and reassuring employees of their
immediate job security could have averted this chain of events.

The importance of internal PR should never be
underestimated. While many companies funnel significant resources into external
PR efforts geared at gaining the support of the general public, customers,
shareholders and industry and financial analysts, these same companies often
overlook their most critical stakeholders--their own employees--by neglecting
internal communications. Internal PR is a specialized PR discipline focused on
optimizing a company's relationship with its employees by facilitating good
communications between management and employees, boosting employee morale and
enthusiasm, and disseminating the right information at the right time such as
explanations of new plans and policies and how they will affect the
organization and its employees. While an internal PR program is about
sustaining a productive dialog with employees using a proven set of
communications tools and activities including memos, newsletters and special
events, it also requires a great deal of creativity, consistency and
follow-through. But the rewards can be enormous.

Internal PR encompasses everything from informing employees
about exciting company and product developments to celebrating successes and
encouraging employees to meet personal and organizational goals. For instance,
a fast-growing home building materials company has devised a solid plan and
strategy for launching several innovative products over the next 24 months to
leapfrog competitors. However, without a supportive internal PR campaign, they
may find themselves behind the curve. To keep employees performing at the high
level required to meet company goals, management needs to give them the scoop--and
the inspiration. An effective internal PR campaign could include a series of
CEO memos thanking employees for their teamwork and directing them to the
company's intranet site for the latest product development details. It could
also include a series of stories published in a corporate newsletter
highlighting a different employee's role in product development each month. The
company could even hold an offsite employee event where the CEO makes a
motivational speech, dinner is catered, and awards, corporate clothing and
other special items are given out in recognition of employee roles in the
company's success. The result is sure to be greater loyalty and higher morale,
a worthwhile pay-off.

When well-executed, an internal PR program can create a cohesive
company environment by giving employees a better understanding of the
organization's objectives, operations and philosophy. Monthly company-wide e-mails from the president, quarterly meetings,
information-rich intranet sites, printed newsletters, corporate giveaways,
incentive programs and company parties are just a few ideas--the possibilities
are unlimited. Internal PR programs can vary as much as company culture, size
and structure, yet all require long-term, dedicated resources to succeed. While
some companies prefer to hire and maintain their own internal communications
department, many choose to work side by side with an experienced PR/advertising
agency that brings significant internal PR know-how to the table. A seasoned
agency can help any company shine by leveraging effective internal PR
strategies, plans and tools to enhance company vitality through better internal

About the author

Walt Denny is the president of Walt Denny, Inc., an advertising/public relations agency that focuses primarily on home products clients such as Amerock Corp., KitchenAid brand, L.E. Johnson Products and Whirlpool Corp. "The Home Products Agency" was established in 1989. For more information on Walt Denny, Inc., visit