How to write your internal comms like a journalist
Think about exactly who your readers are and what they care about
A good journalist always writes with their reader in mind, which is why people generally like to read the same newspaper, because the style of writing is tailored to their own thoughts and opinions. There is no point writing a communications post targeted to co-workers in your office if your comms are for all of your front-line workers on the shop floor, as they care about different things. For example, office workers will be interested in flexible working. However, shift workers on the shop floor will not because flexible working doesn’t apply to them.
Tip: Create personas for your audience, which will include their responsibilities, their goals and tasks, their likes and dislikes, and their demographics. From this you can create a picture of the kind of person that you are posting to, which will help you create engaging content.
Start with the most important information
Great journalists always summarise their story in the first few lines of their news post. This allows the reader to judge whether they want to continue reading and if they don’t they can still understand the overview of the story anyway.
Tip: Follow the ‘who, what, where, why, when, and how’ format in the first paragraph to ensure that you include everything.
Look for the news
You may think you have the news story but you probably don’t have the news that your staff actually care about. You need to look for an angle that makes it most relevant and interesting to ensure it is a story that your staff actually want to read.
Tip: You may be sharing the news that you are now looking to hire a new person in your team. Stating this alone is not really exciting. However, if you write about how the new person will work alongside everyone, what special kind of knowledge or talent you are looking for and how this person will fit in with the team. This will make your employees feel more invested as you have taken the time to describe how the new hire will fit in with them and describing the ideal knowledge or talent is a reflection of their own knowledge and talent. It is a more personal approach and they may even want to seek out new candidates for you themselves.
Give them the good and the bad news
If you only ever give your staff the good news then they will soon become bored. They don’t want everything covered in fluff and fairy dust, they want your honest perspective on things. This will earn you respect for your communications and make people actually take notice. It has been reported that management actually communicates less with employees when there is a crisis, which is when they need information the most.
Tip: Try to be as transparent as you can, for example, if you are having a hiring freeze then let your staff know. This stops staff assuming things and if you keep a constant communication stream open then it is less likely to come as one big surprise when people find out.
Keep to the point
Good journalists keep their writing style short and sweet. They have short punchy sentences which convey as much information as possible. They avoid complex language and make their articles easy to read.
Tip: Write out your content, then go over it again but try to cut it down and take out any words that don’t add to the meaning of the content. Next, break it down into shorter sentences to make it easier to read.
Don’t worry about the end
Don’t worry about a summary or an overview as a majority of people won’t bother to read it if they have all the information they need to know already.