internal communication principles Posts

Is Texting an Effective Internal Communications Tool?

Paul Barton internal communications

It seems more and more organizations are turning to text messaging as a broad-based internal communications tool. But are they effective?

I have read several posts using text messaging to reach employees. Most of these posts tout statistics that show how much more text messages are opened and read than other internal communications channels. But what they are not saying is how employees feel about receiving company news in this manner. I’ve always thought of my text messages as being more personal than my email messages and I suspect employees feel the same way, particularly if it is their own phone. They expect to receive business messages from individuals via text but not necessarily broad-based messages on non-urgent subjects.

If a company invades the personal space of an employee, I suspect they are not happy about it. They may feel they had been tricked into reading a message. Resentment isn’t a good way to engage employees who are already overwhelmed.

Back in the day when I was a Senior Director of Internal Communications, I remember advising senior management teams against overusing blast companywide voicemails for the same reason. I reasoned that employees would see the blinking light on their phone and expect it to be a message from an individual they knew. Instead, they would find a companywide message and not be happy, at least not if it happened too often.

I do believe blast text messaging and blast voicemails are entirely appropriate if the message is important to all employees and has a high degree of urgency. But I have my doubts about using this technology for day-to-day, run-of-the-mill companywide information.

What do you think?

Are you using text messaging on a regular basis to reach employees? Do you find it effective? Have employees reacted favorably to using text messaging this way? Is my assertion that text messages are thought of as personal by employees correct or am I full of hooey? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Hardcover Internal Communications Book Sold Out

The hardcover version of Maximizing Internal Communication: Strategies to Turn Heads, Win Hearts, Engage Employees and Get Results, the No. 1 book on employee communications on Amazon, has sold out.

However, you may still order the book in eBook format from this website or from wherever fine eBooks are sold.

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Prefer to buy on Amazon? That’s cool. Just tell ’em we sent you. ;>)

Tips to Communicate to a Global Audience

I was on a conference call with a client’s communications team a couple of weeks ago. We discussed a variety of assignments that needed to be done and began to discuss deadlines when one of the participants who happened to be in Salt Lake City said, “Excuse me, but am I the only one here who plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family?” A few embarrassed voices from Canada said “Oh my, we forgot. We celebrated our Thanksgiving two and a half months ago and we weren’t thinking.”

Add that one to the list of cultural considerations to look out for when communicating to with a global workforce. About four years ago, I posted 10 Tips to Communicate with a Global Workforce. Well, make that 11 tips. The rest of the list is below.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Cultural Differences to Watch Out for in Global Communications

  1. Colloquialisms, idioms and humor don’t translate well. Avoid them.
  2. Weights and measures are expressed in metric units in most of the world.
  3. Currencies vary in different parts of the world. If you’re writing about U.S. dollars, be sure to designate accordingly.
  4. The seasons are opposite between the north and south equators. Summer in Colorado is ski season in Tasmania.
  5. In many parts of the worlds, date formats are written with the day first followed by the month and year.
  6. Make sure your language translation service is familiar with the host country you are targeting. For instance, the Spanish spoken in Mexico is not the same as the Spanish spoken in Chile.
  7. Your translation service may be familiar with the language spoken in the country you are targeting but likely isn’t familiar with the terms used in your industry in that language. Have an employee in the host country you are targeting check all copy before posting.
  8. Text translated from English to another language likely will not take up the same amount of space. For instance, English text translated to Spanish is about a third longer.
  9. Contractions and possessives are confusing in some countries. Choose “cannot” instead of “can’t,” and rewrite sentences to say “the book that belongs to Joe” instead of “Joe’s book.”
  10. Language differences are just scratching the surface. Cultural differences are far more important.

There is much more to communicating to a global audience than just these tips, but following them, being respectful of cultures and seeking to understand your international audiences will get you headed in the right direction.

What tips would you add?