Who can help?

Most organisations have a wealth of information about their employees. Your HR team will have the basic demographic information. If your organisation uses an online system like Oracle or Sap you’re likely to be able to identify and target very specific audiences, by interrogating, cross-referencing and extracting the data it holds. Usually, the extracted data can be converted easily into email distribution lists.

Your HR team will have the results of the Civil Service People Survey and other corporate people surveys. In-house analysts, social researchers or customer insight specialists can also be a great source of help or advice.

How to understand what your audience think and feel

Once you have identified who the audiences are for a particular communication, the next step is to develop your understanding of them and what makes them tick.

Here are some of the ways you can get to know your audience better:

People closeness:

  • Observation: There’s no substitute for getting out and about in your organisation and experiencing things first-hand. This can include job shadows, visiting offices, attending meetings and going to staff events.
  • See what they’re saying: There are lots of different ways that employees share their views within an organisation. These are a really rich source of understanding. They include internal discussion groups, online community areas, internal blogs, and any open comments left in response to surveys, for example the People Survey.
  • Pay attention to feedback: This could be in the form of staff complaints, questions to internal helplines, concerns staff are raising with their managers, questions being sent into central teams, feedback from staff panels or staff suggestion schemes.
  • Put yourself in their shoes: Customer-journey mapping techniques can also be used internally and are a helpful source of understanding. See the GCS How to Guide: Customer journey mapping
  • Talk to the people who understand them best: Their knowledge of your audience will be vital to your communications planning, development and delivery.


  • Data can help you build a picture of what categories of employees are actually doing. It can include existing management information like sickness absence figures or other numeric information held in internal databases. Don’t forget that useful data might also be held by suppliers or other public bodies, for example, travel booking numbers or registrations to training courses.


  • This could include quantitative and qualitative research, research you commission to fill an information gap, or existing research held elsewhere in the organisation, for example focus groups, telephone surveys, one-to-one interviews or online surveys.
People Portrait

People Portrait

PDF, 1.12MB, 1 page