Negative external communications are the onset of a PR crisis: negative reviews, public scandals, and disastrous recalls will drive your team into immediate action. But the internal communications are what decide if your team goes into panic mode or solution mode.
How quickly, appropriately, and comprehensively your company responds to a crisis will make or break your brand's reputation, and spreading misinformation or even partial information inside and outside of the company is bad for business. Even during daily operations without a crisis in sight, poor internal processes that lead to your team spreading misinformation to your audience can break your audience's trust. In fact, according to SmallBizTrends, "80% [of shoppers] lose trust in local businesses if online information is incorrect."
So don't let your internal processes start or worsen your next public relations crisis. If you don't want to risk having 80% of your shoppers turn away from your business or lose faith in your company, start shoring up your internal communications. Use this guide to determine if your company has an internal communications problem and how to make improvements immediately.
How to Know If You're Experiencing Issues With Internal Communications
Internal communication issues are surprisingly hard to isolate. They often result in measurable problems without being something that's easy to measure themselves. Many of the signs of communication issues are also shared by other workplace problems, from poor culture to poor new hire training. Some of the most common problems to look out for are:
Low employee engagement or employee engagement that continues to decrease over time
Task confusion — Do employees know what they're supposed to do? Do other employees know who to reach out to for certain tasks?
Poor internal communication skills and no training to address the lack
Information overload during training, new initiatives, or throughout daily operations
Uncertainty or confusion about how to perform tasks
Each of these signs alone may not be enough to indicate overly complex internal communications processes. But if you notice any of these signs through your department or company, it's time for a closer look.
Are You Experiencing a Drop in Your Reputation?
Poor internal communications will manifest as poor external communications sooner rather than later. Customer queries may go unanswered because they fall into the gaps or no one knows how to answer them. If customers continue to receive slow, incomplete, or incorrect answers, faith in your brand will drop, and your reputation will suffer. Eventually, this will result in fewer sales due to fewer conversions and less repeat business.
Are Your Employees Showing Signs?
Internal communication issues are rough on your employees. Without the right support, processes, and information in place, your employees may:
Seem confused about what to do in different situations
Be less engaged in their work
Not be excited or interested in their work
The Cost of Those Issues
While communication issues may have a negligible impact on your business at first, the impacts quickly stack up. Given enough time to grow, poor communication will result in fewer sales, lost customers, and increased employee turnover. These factors will become visible to your competitors and general target market, causing a downward spiral of lower brand reputation that triggers even lower brand reputation.
One of the biggest intangible costs to your business is trust. Employees will lose trust in management and either stay disengaged with their job or begin looking for a new job. Customers will also be hesitant to trust your brand again. According to Retail Dive, the majority of shoppers will abandon a brand after three negative interactions (or fewer).
Before you reach the point of losing long-term customers or valued employees, it's important to know how to improve internal communication processes. Showing that you're making changes and by removing the obstacles causing the most friction, you can start to regain trust and minimize reputation losses.
How to Improve Your Internal Communication When It Comes to Digital Reputation Management?
Take these three steps to see immediate gains in internal communication, brand reputation, and customer and employee engagement:
1. Be Clear and Concise
Breakdown in communication can be caused by poor informational sources, not just unclear communication channels. Make sure you communicate where your information comes from. This transparency helps readers and listeners understand more about your processes, your values, and how you arrived at your conclusions.
Also, be clear and concise about the processes themselves. This helps ensure employees are accessing and using information consistently and in accordance with your company's best practices.
2. Measure Your Internal Communications
You can't fix what you don't measure. Also, if your company is already suffering from some of the signs of poor or overly complex internal communications, you want to prioritize the changes that have the biggest impact. Assess your internal communications by monitoring these metrics:
'Most Popular' clicks
These numbers indirectly measure the effectiveness of internal communications by highlighting how your information engages and resonates with your readership. The sooner you start measuring these factors, the sooner you can start seeing trends, set measurable goals, and identify areas to focus your efforts on.
3. Simplify What Tools and Processes You Are Using
Ultimately, your internal communications workflows need to be as simple and precise as possible. Try these steps, especially if you have a mid-sized or large team:
Delegate: Assign certain tasks to specific individuals so there is no confusion or gaps.
Remove extraneous tasks and roles: Identify the core processes and responsibilities that need to be handled. This can boost engagement and help everyone feel more engaged with specific roles and responsibilities.
Use the right tools: Manual tasks and slow processes are often at the heart of poor internal communications. Find ways to automate as much work as possible. Technology tools like media monitoring software can help streamline your responses to mentions and trends in the media.
Stay Focused With Turbine Labs
Choose Turbine Labs as the media monitoring tool that can help your team stay focused and efficient. Our platform can track mentions of keywords, competitors, and your brand throughout online channels so you can respond faster to a crisis or formulate your publications with up-to-date information. Contact us today to get started.