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08 May 2015

What can the elections tell us about internal comms?

With the voting over and the results in, what can we learn about internal communications in the midst of election fever?

Pay attention to the details

You may have seen that, thanks to social media, voters have been sharing images of election leaflets and brochures highlighting all of the spelling and grammar mistakes. See some of the best errors here.

Often with tight deadlines and numerous rounds of sign off it can be easy to miss these errors in your internal comms, but this must be avoided at all costs. It would be a shame if, after spending time perfecting your channels, they were let down by avoidable errors.

Design is as important as content

Yes, the actual words are very important but design quality can more often be overlooked and this can be damaging to the message you are trying to portray. There are some great examples of student created election posters on the Guardian, the way that these portray instantaneously political feelings, stereotypes and emotions show the power that design can have.

Know your stand point – and stick to it

During times of difficulty or change, say redundancies or changing CEO, it is important to have a consistent message across your internal communications team, so that this consistency is demonstrated to the rest of the company as well. Lack of consistency can cause confusion and difficulties, take the moment that David Cameron mistakenly said he supports West Ham football team, when he actually supports Aston Villa.

Use your figure heads

Politics can often become all about the figure heads, as opposed to the parties themselves, with one party leader facing off against another, in organisations your figure heads don’t need to be your leaders. At our recent Aspic event about communicating vision and values, Toby Jones from the RFU gave a great example of using figure heads effectively in your organisation giving the example of England head coach Stuart Lancaster, someone who is a ‘normal guy’ who exemplifies the organisation’s values and so helps in promoting them to others.

Keep track of the stats regularly

Opinion polls, social media figures, approval ratings – all are important in the elections as they parties some idea as to how they are doing, how they are improving, or falling in some cases, and importantly, what has and hasn’t worked.

Having regular statistics allows you to react as quickly as possible to changing circumstances. Having only one annual employee survey as your way of gathering insights means a lot may be missed during the year.

Make sure you give people the opportunity and encouragement to feedback on your different channels and communications in general at all times, and create a culture of a two-way conversation.

Be reactive

Planning making sure you are prepared is important but you can also see the value in being reactive. In order to be so you need to know regular information about what is happening in your organisation and to have processes in place that allow you to react quickly to anything that is deemed useful. Template emailers or OFTs for example that let you edit content easily and send out are a good way of being reactive.

Whatever the outcome in the general elections is, there are lessons to be learned in how they have been handled by different political parties and leaders.