Situation: A company wants to keep both customers and employees up to date on what is happening within the company. This includes announcements of new products, services and initiatives, changes in personnel policy and benefits, and other information important to both customers and employees. The CEO is considering a company newsletter. How do you keep customers and employees updated and what benefits do you accrue from the effort?
Advice from the CEOs:
Customers and employees are two different audiences and require different communications. Externally focused company newsletters are a value-add from a marketing perspective and enhance the image of the company in the eyes of clients and prospects. Internal company newsletters are valuable to reinforce vision, understanding of company policy, and inter-departmental alignment.
Both efforts are justified from a time and expense standpoint, and perhaps deserve even more focus.
Within the companies represented around the table, frequency of both internal and external newsletters varies from semi-annual to monthly publications.
Both print and online newsletters have value. Employees respond positively to both. Print media make it easier for them to share important updates in benefits and excitement about company developments with their families. Online media can be updated more frequently and inexpensively, and the HR department can track the number of views to measure impact.
Emailed external newsletters are valuable because they enable you to measure ROI from the effort by building in tracking mechanisms and correlating web page hits to business development and revenue.
Situation: We have built a good online community. Between our site and newsletter, we are in contact with tens of thousands of executives weekly. We constantly seek new ways to encourage active participation in our discussions. What have you done to effectively build regular participation in meaningful discussions?
Know your audience and focus on topics that engage people. For example, we do a semi-annual compensation survey and get a great response when we publish the results.
We often learn more from mistakes than we do from success. Also, people love to talk about business blunders, particularly if the discussions include some well-intentioned humor.
Reach out to individuals with interesting backgrounds, experience and situations. Encourage them to post, or feature them in a discussion.
We send out weekly emails with titles and synopses of articles posted in the last week. This enables newsletter recipients to quickly scan topics and click on those of interest.
A common challenge is filtering posts which are trivial, self-promoting and lack relevance to the focus of the site.
The bottom line is that there is no magic bullet. Social networking sites are rapidly evolving so you must continually seek creative additions. This takes time, work and investment.
Now it’s your turn. What has drawn you to a social networking site? What have you done to effectively build regular participation in meaningful discussions?