by Martin MacConnol – Jul 28, 2020
What are the ingredients of a successful internal comms campaign? Goals may vary, from brand building to behaviour change, but that doesn’t mean how you approach every campaign needs to be different every time.
In fact, over the 24 years that we have been delivering internal communications programmes and campaigns for clients as diverse as British Airways and Unilever, we have come to realise there are a few key ingredients that typically are essential for success.
We call them the Wardour Way and they are a starting point for planning campaigns with clients and we adapt them as the client sees fit to make specific objectives and budget requirements work.
For us good campaigns combine the following phases:
Important, planned messaging which is intended to move a business forward shouldn’t appear from thin air. In the same way you don’t have a party and just expect people to turn up. Ideally, there should be a build-up to create interest and awareness.
We call this the anticipation phase of a campaign. Depending on budget, the anticipation phase can be large or small. It might span anything from intriguing messaging on the intranet to pop-up vinyls and posters. It might involve stories in the company magazine which set up a discussion around the topic that is the heart of the campaign. Whatever it is, the anticipation phase is about creating a sense of energy and excitement.
The engagement phase is the heart of the campaign itself. It’s the part where most of the energy typically goes because it’s where the core messaging is shared and where the assets are deployed to deliver the objectives of the campaign. We find it stands a greater chance of really working if it’s been properly trailed in the anticipation phase.
What we actually create for the engagement phase will be different for each client depending on the specific requirements of the brief and the logistics of connecting with the audience. In a multi-platform world, we find the engagement phase is becoming increasingly holistic and involves everything from specific campaign channels, through to piggybacking existing comms tools such as in-house publications and team cascades.
None of our phases stand in isolation and all can and should merge into one another. This is particularly true with what we call the “recognition” phase. Internal audiences can be a sceptical group of people, and however good the creative, top-down messaging only goes so far. What we find transforms a campaign is recognising the people on the front-line who are actually delivering the goals that management want. So as the engagement phase rolls out it is incredibly important to show ownership of the messaging by the actual teams, and to recognise groups and individuals that are delivering. Again, the scale of this phase is dependent, like all of them, on the budget and resource available. It may be no more than posters and banners celebrating success, or stories included in the in-house magazine. At the other end of the scale it maybe the introduction of a whole awards programme. The range of options is huge. But the more you can do, the better, it’s all about making staff the stars.
Finally, campaigns can be short and they can be long. For the longer ones you need to be prepared to reinforce messaging in the various phases – so for instance you may need to drive further anticipation through additional teaser campaigns in the engagement phase.
No two campaigns are identical and typically clients will flex our thinking above in the planning stage. However, as an agency we know it’s critically important to be proactive and we find that starting a conversation with this idealised plan in mind helps drive positive brainstorming which delivers stronger results.
Published Jul 28, 2020