Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash
My personal belief about Change communications is: if you’re not being seen you’re not being heard.
And yes, this post is inspired by another 80’s electronica gem. Living on video, if you’re Canadian you would have heard this song well into the 90’s.
I’ve mentioned how important repetition is and the importance of categorizing your communications into tactical and advertising.
Tactical communications only get attention if your advertising communications have impact. Why? If people aren’t interested, they won’t pay attention! That’s why advertising communications need to be interesting, and not oversaturated.
I’ve run into many leaders who don’t know where to start with change communications. Messaging and figuring out what’s changing can be done by the change team, and leaders are the most important in the first part of change, building awareness and understanding, and emphasizing the importance of change. This is where you’re going to get momentum from your innovators, early adopters and early majority as you’re moving towards implementation. But here’s what we need to think about when planning communications. You’ve got to make it interesting, and you’ve got to make it novel. Then, you build in reinforcement through existing or traditional channels.
Here are some of my favorite ways to get people’s attention and focus on the early messaging:
Events – contests, giveaways, special events (donut wall, anyone?), Q & A events or events focused on interaction with stakeholders. These are great ways to build excitement around the change. Your leadership needs to be present and visible during events. Figure out what works for your organization and go from there. Be creative, make it interesting and figure out, what’s in it for them? Have something unique to offer your participants. Messaging at this stage revolves around the change, the benefits, who is leading it, and overall high-level details (timeline, team, sponsor and leadership support).
Short form Video – Tiktok has ushered in a dynamic new world of video communication. Learn how to harness the power of video and the power of your phone’s camera. Make sure that videos are short (1 minute or less) they can feature humour (but it needs to be work-appropriate). Introduce your leaders and sponsors this way, using some of the great templates out there. Use the video to highlight key benefits, important information and updates on the change. Plan to publish videos often, and ensure you have a content plan. You want to publish often, to keep the momentum and interest up about your change. But, you need to remember that video is short and timely, this isn’t the place to post information about the training schedule or other things. For me, short-form video is the new poster!
Mid-length Video and Audio – Video casts, podcasts and various other modalities exist for elaborating on the change messaging and stories that you want to promote with your change. Keep these short but longer than short form video (2 – 15 minutes) use this for interviews, success stories, and interaction with stakeholders that is public, you should also use video to highlight communication activities like events, sponsors meeting with stakeholders, town hall meeting highlights. Videos including audio and visual components as well as closed captions are very effective for transmitting and reinforcing messaging.
Newsletters – a written format is also effective for change communications. This is where you can reinforce items created in short and long form video, written information (letters or articles from sponsors, and leaders, success stories, change stories). This is the place where you’re also drawing attention to your tactical communications, like, where to find training resources, how to access test environments, schedules and other pertinent “need to know” information. Newsletters using a simple publishing tool are highly effective, furthermore, you get built in analytics that can help you tailor your messaging in this format to your audience.
Interaction – you want to be thinking about interaction and how to build it in to your communications. Long form surveys are cumbersome, instead think about building in quick polls, one question polls, and micro surveys. There are a ton of great electronic tools out there with the possibility to integrate with the suggested modalities above. Plan on regular interaction and keep it consistent.
Pulling it all together:
Thinking about all the ideas above, you will need a central place Your change needs a platform, and in this new hybrid world, you’re going to need a place to make it all come together. You are going to need:
So you’ve got a ton of exciting things happening with all of the different efforts and content. If you’re remembering the law of saturation, you know how important it is to reinforce the key messages. This is where repetition of the message but using different ways to say it becomes important (for example, multiple short form videos with similar themes). This is also where you will need to tap into the existing communications infrastructure. What does your organization do today to communicate? Collaboration sites and message boards are a way this happens, also, regular messages from the leadership and meetings focused on information are places where you should be reinforcing the messages about change.
What are some change communication tactics or formats that you’ve found effective?
BONUS: we’re sharing a free communications plan template with our subscribers in the November edition of our newsletter.
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Going forward we’re going to be sharing free templates for core change management deliverables every month with subscribers to our newsletter.
Articles, posts, thought pieces, emerging research, podcasts and videos from the founder and principal at Charthouse Advisory Services