Internal Communication Tools and Best Practices

Internal Communication Tools and Best Practices

Looking for some best practices around using internal communication tools?

This article walks through some tips and advice for crafting an internal communication strategy. Topics covered range from collaboration tools to a strong focus on internal video solutions as well. It also emphasizes the importance of the ability to have communication that can be not only archived, but also in a search friendly manner as well to improve ROI (return on investment).

For those looking for strategies specific to video, download this Using Video for Internal Corporate Communications, Training & Compliance white paper.

Define internal communication tools

One potential headache of internal communication can be the wealth of channels where communication takes place. Email, various chat platforms, live streaming tools, meeting platforms, internal video archives, training platforms, task management solutions and more. As a result of this, it fosters a situation where someone can recall a fact or a statement… but is unable to locate where it originated from and the context.

Luckily, some planning can help minimize, although not eradication, this issue. Part of this includes sitting down and mapping out tools that the organization will use and where archivable communication might take place. Next is to examine if consolidation is possible. Like rather than different tools for townhalls, training videos and internal videos this could be one solution. That said, don’t overly minimize. For example, a chat system integrated in an email provider might not be a full replacement for a collaboration tool like Slack.

The final step is messaging to try and consolidate places to search. For example, maybe the task management solution has a built-in chat, but that doesn’t prevent recommending that employees have conversations in other tools instead.

 

Cloud based collaboration tools

Traditionally, a lot of internal communication used to take place over email, and it still does… but there has been a notable rise in cloud based collaboration tools in the workplace. These range from Slack, to Hive, to Jostle and many others. Companies that use these tools get access to persistent chat rooms organized around topics (often called channels), private groups and direct messaging. Thanks to the advent of mobile apps, this is a convenient way for employees to communicate and these solutions have replaced more rigid chat services that used to proliferate inside companies.

There are a lot of advantages to using these types of services. Besides accessibility, a boon is the ability for content to be archived and searchable. For new employees, it can be really valuable for them to search through past conversations in a channel, understanding the context of what happened before them. Even for seasoned employees, the ability to jump to a past conversation for clarification is immensely valuable.

So a best practice is to utilize a cloud based collaboration tool inside your organization. Something beyond simply using email, and something like Slack that archives old messages and has them in a searchable format.

 

Internal Communication Tools and Best Practices

Archive internal meetings

Managers spend around 35% of their work time in meetings, while upper management spends an even greater 50% of their work time. While far from every meeting is valuable to the greater company, a few contain a wealth of information that can be very valuable. Product meetings and quarterly recaps are perfect examples of content that could have longevity. A way to achieve turning these into internal assets is through archiving the meetings as VODs (video on-demand).

In interviewing 1,512 corporate executives, Wainhouse Research turned up a variety of reasons why companies are archiving assets to create on-demand archives. These reasons ranged from having the message reach more employees (32%), providing ability for viewers to time-shift (25%) and preservation of organizational knowledge (23%).

Simply archiving a lot of content can present a problem of its own, though. One where it’s hard to find relevant assets when employees need them, though. There is a solution, however, to this issue: transcription.

 

Transcribing video assets

Videos by themselves aren’t a search friendly medium. Even providing a title and some keywords can often fall short of making relevant assets easily discoverable. A way around this is creating searchable transcripts for assets. Now transcripts provide a text based collection of all the speech and statements that took place during a video. The value in making this searchable is being able to find a nugget of information that might be contained in the video, but not represented in the title or meta description for that asset.

For example if an employee is looking for information on a specific product from past meetings, there may be some key statements said about it in vaguely titled content like “Product Meeting Q1 2018”. Regardless, that asset will turn up when being searched for if the transcription is searchable.

Turning up relevant assets is only part of the solution, though. For example, finding a two hour video that’s relevant still means having to watch a two hour video. As a result, a best practice is to go one step further: make it possible for a user to search inside the video.

 

Searchable video communication

A solution for increasing the effectiveness of internal assets is making it possible for a user to search inside of a video. This means they can get an idea of exactly where something was mentioned inside of an asset. For example if someone is curious about a specific product, it can be very valuable to know that it’s first referenced in the transcript 23 minutes into an hour long video.

In terms of executing on these best practices, an ideal method is to lean on automatic closed captioning with edit and search. Now for all intents and purposes, complete closed captions can double as transcripts as they provide a collection of phrases that were stated during a piece of content. The value in automating this is to reduce the large manual component of having someone sit down and create transcripts for an asset. By leaning on technology like IBM Watson, which fuses AI (artificial intelligence) with speech to text, the time commitment involved in generating accurate captions is far less.

Furthermore, these captions can be searched inside the player when using IBM Cloud Video’s Streaming Manager Enterprise. In addition, the search doesn’t just state when a phrase was mentioned in the transcript (in this case, the captions), but gives the ability for the viewer to click and jump to that specific moment in the content. As a result, this creates a skim friendly, engaging resource for employees to depend on.

 

Give employees a voice

Employees need to feel engaged and like the can contribute. Internal meetings are one thing, but some might want to know that an executive is hearing their concern during a town hall or even contribute in sharing their wisdom in another way.

Methods to do this include offering a means of engagement on your live streaming content. For example providing a Q&A module or live audience polling, thereby letting attendees contribute. Ideally their questions should be fielded during the presentation, or have their answer in the polls somehow reflected in the live content.

Another method to do this, for the internal advocates in the company, is UGC (user generated content). This is the ability for employees to submit content, such as an instructional course or an announcement from engineering around a new feature. With UGC, though, there should be a way for others to vet these before they are submitted to the larger company.

 

Approval process for internal assets

It can be powerful to make video a collaborative experience. From UGC to just having multiple people who own access to the platform, having more people powering the video for your internal communication can breath live into the frequency of messaging.

However, a best practice in these situations can be to have some sort of approval process. This means a way for a manager or someone to first review and validate the content before it’s released to the entire company. At IBM Cloud Video, content can be uploaded in an unpublished state first. Afterwards a channel manager or administrator can watch the content before choosing to publish it.

 

Summary

There are a number of strategies here to help streamline conversations inside your company, making them both more fluid and searchable. This advice doesn’t need to be used in its entirety either. In fact, some might inherit situations, such as previously adopted communication tools, that make that unfeasible. Regardless, even doing some of these best practices will place internal communication in a better position.

If you want more advice on the video side of these best practices, be sure to register for our Simplify your corporate video strategy webinar.

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