Nothing compares to the power of feedback and networking. I recently witnessed its influence while shaping a set of internal communication posters we created for a milestone event.
The posters were an element of a larger campaign to get employees excited about the organization’s history, progress, people, culture and talent. When we began the campaign a year ago, we developed a set of key messages that panned out across all channels we communicated.
Created in-house, we were keen to leverage ‘collective wisdom’ so as to get our communication right before it reached everyone. The advantages included faster time to market, more ‘eyeballs’, better oversight and finally speed of getting reviews at zero cost. As part of our communication creation process we built in a buffer to take inputs and feedback from employees who receive the messages.
It is however important to define the scope and expectations from your stakeholders when you ask for feedback on a topic like communication – where things can get subjective. Also, like you must have already discovered if you are in this field – everyone has an opinion!
I infused a fun element into the process of evaluating the communication by adding a ‘try your hand at improving this poster’ kind of message when inviting a select group of people to give feedback.
The following guidelines were however shared –
a) The thinking behind the communication and why it was designed. In this particular case, we were building awareness on the event and celebrations – were they able to get that story?
b) Focus on how the creative can be improved by making it more readable and effective. Were the posters conveying the message of ‘history, culture, people, progress and talent’?
c) Including all that matters to employees and for the message. What elements needed tinkering to make it more relevant?
d) Mapping the message and the medium. How can we help employees get the messages better? In what form can we make the communication easier for people to get more updates?
While we helped the reviewers to stay focused on the above pointers don’t be surprised when you get inputs on design since it is the more visible element of any communication.
It is your ability to sift through what makes sense from the communication perspective that impacts how your collateral shapes up.
However never discount other ideas which may be indirectly related to the topic. For example, we received some excellent recommendations on leveraging other channels of communication and elements of imagery they believed can appear.
How do you select your reviewers? I would leave it to your judgment when it comes to selecting your team but my guidance is to have an equal representation of career levels, geographies, locations so that you can get a lot more varied feedback. I am also fortunate to have employees write in asking for opportunities to contribute to internal communication either in creating, reviewing, partnering or broadcasting messages. Makes life easier when you have an enthusiastic bunch that is keen to support.
How can you keep them abreast of how communication gets created? Well, the onus is on you to help them understand how communication is done and therefore what you expect from their review. I also regularly updated them on trends and updates from what our team handles and their influence on internal communication. Also share samples of previous work to give them a better perspective.
Always keep them posted on what you have done with their feedback. Nothing is worse than not getting back on inputs received.
In this particular instance, I went back to the group with the refreshed creatives explaining what we considered and what we couldn’t and why. This completes the loop, gets you any additional inputs and earns you the trust of your reviewers.
There are downsides however to this approach of seeking feedback from employees who have no experience evaluating such communication. To start, you may invite the wrath of your own team members who think you might be doing disservice to the domain! Or get pulled in all directions without getting concrete suggestions to improve your communication.
However, I believe that if you have included the right mix of reviewers the chances of getting relevant inputs are higher.
After a couple of iterations we got more than what we expected which reflected in the comments shared by the reviewers – ‘these are now looking great’, can’t choose between which are better of the two’ and ‘I feel proud to belong to this company’.
Experienced the power of feedback in your work? Do share them here.