When planning which channels to use, you will also need to consider which are already available, and which you could easily introduce.

Whilst budgets may be limited you should try to not to be restricted simply to what is already in place and which is familiar. It’s very easy to slip into the habit of using the same suite of channels for every internal communication message. It is also worth finding out whether what other parts of government have done and whether they can help you develop new, no cost channels.

Sometimes the established, tried and tested channels, which have good recognition and trust amongst staff, will be the right solution, but sometimes there is scope to push boundaries and try something new, especially with the availability of new digital, no cost options. You don’t want to fall into the trap of using something new for the sake of it but, alternatively, you can often try something new for little cost and little risk. Don’t be afraid to try – if something doesn’t work, you can always close it down and chalk it up to experience!

Using multiple channels

Often a message or communications campaign will require multiple channels. Including messages in a number of channels may help to reinforce your message and ensure it reaches as many people as possible.

Some studies have tested how many times a message should be repeated for maximum effect. These suggest that people have the maximum confidence in an idea after it has been repeated between 3 and 5 times (Brinol et al., 2008). After that, repetition ceases to have the same effect and may even reverse.

Because TV adverts are repeated many more times than this, advertisers now use subtle variations in the ads to recapture our attention. This is an attempt to avoid the fact that while familiarity can breed liking, over-familiarity tends to breed contempt. This concept of repeating your message, in subtlety different ways, is a useful principle to remember when developing your internal communications campaign.

Using multiple channels is also helpful as not everyone responds to communications in the same way. For example, some people will prefer to receive messages by email or text message, allowing them chance to absorb the message in their own time, while others will prefer to receive information face-to-face, allowing them an immediate opportunity to discuss the news with others.

This isn’t just about using every channel available, but about thinking about who your audience is and which channels you have available to target that audience. Using a variety of channels takes planning and you should think about how you are going to evaluate use of the channels you chose. See the Evaluation chapter

Two-way communication

Think about whether your message is something staff will want to ask questions about and discuss, or which senior leaders would benefit from hearing their views on. If so you may want to use a two-way communication channel. An important contributor to staff engagement is that staff feel they are being listened to and have chance to air their views, even if there are no easy answers. So don’t be put off using a two-way communication channel just because you think staff will give negative feedback or raise concerns which you’re worried about finding an answer to.

Two-way communication channels include face-to-face meetings and events, where people can ask questions, but also includes digital channels such as web-chats and blogs which allow people to post comments.