Ragan Communications has announced the winners of their 2011 Employee Communications Awards, which recognize excellence in categories ranging from traditional employee communications elements — such as newsletters – to social media.
I was particularly interested in the organizations represented by the 40+ winning entries; as you would expect, many of the winners were U.S. Government agencies, multinational corporations and major universities.
What I found interesting, and unexpected, was the number of small organizations – regional hospitals, faith-based service organizations and even a community bank – among the top-tier entries.
One need look no further for proof that communications excellence can be found in organizations of all sizes and types.
I’m often told that the reason employee communicators don’t focus on measurement, don’t conduct assessments of their programs on a regular basis, and don’t research best practices from other organizations is that they “can’t afford to pay for it.” There is this mistaken belief that measurement and research are unnecessary expenses, that they add little value to the organization and aren’t supported by senior management.
I don’t buy it.
Would senior management approve a costly TV advertising campaign, and then neglect to check on its success because it costs money to collect sales figures? Would they introduce a new product line without conducting any market research to understand their competition and the buyers’ appetite for the new product? Hardly.
A review of your communications plans, at minimum on an annual basis, is essential to ensure that your communications efforts are effective, support the organization’s culture, and drive employees’ understanding of and connection to the business.
Once the current state of employee communications is measured, any communicator worth his or her title looks for ways to improve existing programs and new elements to introduce into their communications toolkit. That knowledge is gathered through research and benchmarking.
Which leads me to the point of this blog post…
Don’t let financial limitations serve as a barrier to your benchmarking efforts. Collecting best practices research is as easy as reviewing the list of communication award winners from local and national programs and reaching out to the winners. Sure, you may have to do some digging, but once you find the person or persons whose work was recognized, it’s easy to set up a call or a Skype session to talk about the award-winning program.
What’s holding you back? Are you worried that you’ll get a brush-off?
I think you will find that most winners welcome the opportunity to share their insights and experiences. As the Ragan article states, “Employee communications can seem a thankless job, with long hours of meticulous yet creative work, but little official recognition.”
A call from a fellow communicator for advice and counsel could be regarded as the ultimate recognition for these award winners.