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Should My Internal Communications Strategy Include Video?

August 17, 2022

The stakes for employers are higher than ever. Whether you call it the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle or something else, it’s clear that a great number of workers are on the move. Through the first half of 2022, resignation rates continued in record numbers.

In response, employers are looking for creative ways to better connect with and retain their employees. As research conducted by FleishmanHillard’s Talent + Transformation and TRUE Global Intelligence made clear, internal communications can be the differentiator in the employer-employee relationship.

For some enterprising communications teams, video has proven to be an important channel to reach employee audiences – and the data backs up their success. Employees at companies that embrace video are twice as likely to rate their company as excellent at collaboration and 75% more likely to rate them highly on employee engagement.

While video is just one of many engaging internal communications channels, it can easily be mismanaged and rendered ineffective… if you don’t ask the right questions.

To help assess your readiness to kickstart, or grow, your internal video communications program and ensure its success, we’ve assembled the following who, what, when, where, how and why considerations.

Who needs to buy in, and who should we feature?

As with any communications strategy, buy-in from senior leadership is critical. In the case of video, their support of the strategy comes with an additional ask: Are you willing to be on camera?

Employees are invested in what company leadership has to say. The same FleishmanHillard research that highlighted how internal communications can be a differentiator in the employer-employee relationship also highlights the importance of executive visibility and trust. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said working for leaders who mean and do what they say is “very important.”

Give your leadership a platform to reach employees that goes beyond an email or staff meeting. Trust and transparency begin (and can end) with executive communications.

What should be our focus?

Your approach to video should align with your internal communications strategy, which should support your overall business objectives. For internal videos, this often falls into one of three categories:

  • Executive visibility, including enterprise-wide news and updates, business successes and crisis communications
  • HR communications, including policy and benefits changes, people news and promotions and announcements of key initiatives like open enrollment
  • Impact storytelling, including employee and customer journeys, and ESG and CSR initiatives

If you’re just getting started or looking to bolster your existing programming, as a first step, sketch out a content calendar that supports and aligns with upcoming priorities.  

When should we use video vs. other communications channels?

Take a moment and ask yourself which internal communications channel you use most often. It’s not likely video… and that’s OK.

While video is impactful and can drive engagement (views, clicks, etc.), it can require a significant amount of investment, effort and time. With that, you should be thoughtful and strategic on when you implement video.

As an NBA fan, I sometimes view internal communications in basketball terms. For example, while video may not be in your starting five of communications channels, it may supplement your strategy as the perfect sub, coming in at the right time of the game to make the biggest impact. Just like a basketball coach diligently assesses who comes on and when, every decision in your internal communications plan should be strategic and measured.

When it comes to video, sometimes it’s less about the frequency – or total minutes played – and more about total impact. So, in addition to determining the days and times that work best for your communications, you should time your communications for the moments that can deliver. For example, if you’re hosting an organizational town hall that includes a big announcement, time the email with your video from your CEO the day after the town hall when attention on the announcement is at its highest.

Where should we share our video?

You might have just created a visual masterpiece, but if only 1% of employees view the video, did you accomplish your objective? Distribution is key, and this means relying on multiple channels and inflection points. Gone are the days (if they ever existed) when you could rely on a single email to be the sole vehicle for your communication.

To start, ask yourself: Does email get the best video open rate? How about your intranet or internal social network? Can you stream video in your next live all-employee town hall? Assess the data to determine which channel or combination of channels delivers the best results. Most likely, you’ll need to use your internal communications mix to make the content creation worthwhile.

How should we approach content creation?

Countless factors influence a content strategy. Ultimately, the stories that populate your internal communications channels should blend the leadership, HR and impact stories that move your business forward. In doing so, keep in mind this AAA approach to content generation:

  • Authenticity is more important than ever. The adaption of style throughout the work-from-home migration and influence of in the moment, short-form video among other trends have pushed content producers to create less polished video and instead prioritize sharing the here and now – an authentic representation of people and places you seek to highlight.
  • Attention at work is limited, so make your audience’s decision to view a video worth their time. Keep your content brief and focused on the objective. Unless the content requires more time, shoot for two minutes or less.
  • Accessibility is a must-have, not a nice-to-have. The tools and resources needed to make your content accessible are readily available. Captions, transcripts and audio descriptions (and translations for all the above) are just a few of the ways to help ensure your internal communications are accessible to all employees. If you’re just getting started, be aware of the trade-offs in choosing AI-generated vs. people-generated transcripts. Lastly, when preparing captions, pay attention to color contrast and overlap of any on-screen footage that may be distracting to the viewer.

Why, again, should we invest in video?

While external data can help provide a strong case for video, your own internal engagement objectives should drive your strategy. As our What answer above outlined, there are a wide range of topics and opportunities where video can be substituted for written communication.

Over time, you’ll want to create and adapt your internal metrics. If video and/or analytics are new to your internal communications program, start small. Track views, video length and video topic or speaker. If you already have robust tracking and analytics for video, assess engagement by channel, including click-through rates and view rates, and consider the use of heat maps to track audience attention.

Just as marketing strategies adjust as customer habits and desires change, so too should employee communications. If you’re still relying on the same tactics you were a decade ago, then you’re likely missing a significant segment of your audience or an opportunity to boost engagement.

To answer the question posed at the top of the blog, it depends.

To put it once more in basketball terms: Your roster of employee engagement channels, and the decision to put video in the starting lineup or reserve it for key minutes off the bench, should support your strategy and business goals.

So, whether you command a thread-bare budget for a small nonprofit or the communications function for a Fortune 100 company, video likely has a place in your internal communications program. But only if done right, by thoughtfully addressing each of the considerations above.