Communications solutions for challenging messages

Whether your business is big or small, internal communications solutions are more important than ever.

Creative Insights

This is a period of change and restructuring for many companies. And when your company is in flux, it’s vital that employees are kept in the loop of changes that will impact them directly.

At the best of times, internal communications are key for building strong employee morale, reducing anxieties, and bolstering your business’ image in the eyes of your workforce. In the current climate, whether your business is big or small, internal communications are more important than ever – because you may well have challenging messages to share. The medium you use to communicate these internal messages can help employees understand the information, proceed with any steps they need to take, and ensure that they feel supported by their employer in tough times.

Depending on how your business has fared in recent months, you might need to communicate a change in policies, or internal restructuring. If you’re sharing a sensitive message regarding employee layoffs, for example, tensions will naturally be high. In these instances, employees look to their employer as beacons of clarity, searching for guidance in confusing times. And in less precarious times, you may need to share information on less stressful topics like social media etiquette and guidelines – but where it’s key that employees retain the information that’s communicated to them. Whatever it is you’re sharing, there are a number of communications avenues you can go down. In this article, we cover communications solutions for sharing challenging internal messages.

Engage your audience using animation
Animation has a lot of things going for it, but one of its main draws is its ability to turn complex topics into easily digestible, enjoyable content.  No longer limited to cartoons, animation can give your internal comms a shake-up, helping you to share key messages with employees in new and unexpected ways. It’s a wise business investment, too: animation can boost conversion rates and help viewers retain 58% more information when compared to other methods of communication – essential when you’re sharing important information with your staff.

An example of animation in action is our project with the John Lewis Partnership. JLP came to us for help encouraging their partners to start making contributions to their pension schemes. Pension schemes aren’t the sexiest of topics, and they can be confusing at first, so we needed a way to both hold the audience’s attention, and ensure they understood what they needed to do. To gage the audience’s level of preexisting knowledge of the scheme, we collected and answered questions from John Lewis’ partners via engaging stories told through animations. An additional challenge working with a company of John Lewis’ size is that the information needed to be clear to everyone internally, from fishmongers to top accounting managers. The numbers speak for themselves: after the campaign, 50,000 additional partners were convinced to consider their own pension savings, demonstrating the power of animation in internal comms.

John Lewis Partnership | Video Campaign
John Lewis Partnership | Video Campaign

Another example is Nucco Brain’s work with Rolls-Royce Engineering. Rolls Royce wanted to inform their employees of their social media policy, and to promote social media awareness in the workplace. The campaign was aimed at employees across international branches of the company, adding to the complexity of the project. We used animation to produce a video informing employees about the relevant policies, whilst making sure the campaign hit the mark in each of the 15 target countries.

Rolls Royce Engineering | Video Campaign
Rolls Royce Engineering | Video Campaign

Bring your messages to life with video
If you’re communicating challenging messages, it’s essential to tread lightly and show employees that you’re mindful of the difficult situation. Video is an appropriate medium for delicate updates, because it’s far easier to add warmth and compassion to your messaging than it is through text-only mediums like emails. It communicates key messaging and internal changes in a memorable and lively way, and it’s far easier for the viewer to connect with than a dossier containing your latest company policies.

Another benefit of video is that your audience is much more likely to retain information when it’s transmitted in this format. From a business perspective, video is a sound investment because it can be edited, cropped and reworked in new formats, meaning you get more mileage for your budget. Let’s say your company decides to make an internal explainer video about using social media, which is shared with the entire workforce. Parts of this video could then be repurposed for internal training days, for example, and to provide seasoned employees with a reminder of your expectations regarding social media etiquette.

Deloitte came to Nucco Brain with a challenge: to create a video for internal distribution, informing employees of their handy pre-travel assessment tool. The tool is an online platform for frequent travellers within the organisation to check and consolidate all visas and paperwork before a flight. Our job was to articulate the user journey in a simple and engaging way. The process is simple: users must log in with their credentials, select their origin, destination and documentation, and then they receive the information they need to travel smoothly. You can communicate this information verbally through posters or emails, but it doesn’t exactly make an exciting piece of content. In reality, this pre-travel assessment tool is a very useful and new development for frequent travellers at Deloitte, something that would make their work travel a lot smoother, and our campaign needed to reflect this exciting development.

We created a 90 second video introducing and explaining the PTA tool, taking inspiration from previous Deloitte content. Using vector-based characters to populate our world, we included an accurate representation of male and female characters, and ensured that we featured characters of multiple ethnicities. This is another benefit of animated video: there are endless options when it comes to characterisation. We also focused on a friendly and amusing aesthetic that was both entertaining and accessible, helping the campaign achieve its goals. Video helped what could have been a dry email feel light, snappy and colourful.

Take your communications old-school using infographics
Depending on the message you need to communicate, infographics could be your answer. Sometimes associated with posters in your office lift that go largely ignored, the reality is that with strategic, eye-catching design, infographics can quickly and easily transmit key information to employees. As the adage goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. Infographics are essentially stylised posters designed to share information in a memorable way, and in an office environment, they’re guaranteed to be seen by your target audience. Probably not the best method for communicating sensitive information about restructuring, infographics are best suited to short, sharp messages that you want to stick in employees’ minds.

Nucco Brain was approached by The BBC, who were looking to collaborate on an internal project about information security. They wanted employees to be aware of technological threats like identity theft, phishing emails and having an easily cracked password. This topic was well-suited to infographics, because each poster could focus on a different threat, getting the message across without overloading employees with information. Information security isn’t naturally one of those topics that makes people sit up and listen, so we knew we needed to find a fun and inventive way of capturing people’s imagination. We took influence from the brilliant work of Saul Bass’ film posters like Vertigo, Rear Window, and The Man With the Golden Arm, producing visually exciting infographics that got the job done.

BBC | Infographic
BBC | Infographic

Presentation toolkits
As we learned at Nucco Brain’s panel event featuring internal communications experts, employees are generally resistant to change. With changes comes heightened emotions, so if you’re in the midst of a restructuring or layoffs, it’s vital that employees feel they can trust your company to be transparent and consistent. Part of this consistency comes from simple, intelligible messaging that’s recognisably ‘you’. If you’re delivering a challenge message to your employees via Zoom, it’s essential that your presentation is clear and easy to understand, free from jargon and unnecessary information. Designated presentation toolkits created for sharing difficult internal messages can help ensure you’re staying consistent. If employees are learning about layoffs that could directly affect them and their colleagues, they don’t want to be squinting at the presentation trying to understand complex graphs.

Recently, Nucco Brain teamed up with Haines Watts to create presentation toolkits, amongst other content. We reworked existing branded content to create a suite of branded sales material, ready for use at a moment’s notice. The toolkit included presentation videos that create consistent messaging, helping to enhance the company’s image. For the purposes of communicating challenging messages internally, your company could follow suit with templates that allow for the respectful, clear communication your employees deserve.

Haines Watts | Internal Communications Campaign
Haines Watts | Internal Communications Campaign

If you’d like to find out how Nucco Brain can help you communicate challenging messages, get in touch here.

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