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Six Internal Communication Tips Every Legal Marketer Should Know

By Carolyn Hennessey posted 06-11-2024 08:00

  

Six Internal Communication Tips Every Legal Marketer Should Know

By: Kate Lawless

Owner, KJLawless Communications

In reality, writing internal communications is not all that different from external communications, but there are a few nuances to consider when communicating to internal audiences. Additionally, many best practices for writing external messaging will apply just as much, if not more so, to internal communications, so they must not be overlooked. Read the six tips (plus a bonus tip!) for writing and distributing internal communications so you can maximize the performance of your internal messaging. 

1. Make it memorable

It’s likely you’ve heard this before, but it’s advice worth repeating. Storytelling is a great way to make memorable content that is unique, easy to relate to, and entertaining. 

First, knowing your audience, and what drives them or makes them tick, will help you determine what story to tell and how to tell it. You can apply storytelling techniques such as a story arc, characters, emotion, and conflict to create a narrative that aligns with your message. Don’t forget to add high-quality photos or other imagery like infographics or interactive elements to provide additional context and help keep your audience engaged. 

2. Make it meaningful

Be sure to include context to communicate why your message is important and how it may impact your readers. People want to understand the bigger picture so they know where their role stands in relation to the message. Especially if the purpose of the message is to communicate change, include why the change is being made. That’s the first question people will have, and it’s often a critical factor in helping them prepare for and ultimately adopt changes. 

3. Make it visible

Attention-grabbing headlines, titles and/or subject lines are important in order to capture initial interest and draw your reader into the story. Here’s a checklist you can use to help test the quality of your headlines as you work to craft them.

The best headlines:

  • promise a great story and then fulfill it
  • are specific
  • infused with voice, style and creativity
  • easy to read and understand
  • capture the spirit of the story while leading
  • lead to an emotional reaction of some kind 

4. Make it actionable

Internal messaging is often inherently actionable. But when related actions are not obvious, consider your audience and what information or action they might take next after consuming the content. Not all messages need to include a link or call to action, but finding ways to help your readers take actions as a result of reading your content will help them do so more easily. This will improve the reader’s overall experience and likely advance the goals of the message. 

Two examples: 

  • Say you’re introducing a new lateral to your team through a personal profile on your firm’s intranet. What might readers want to do or know upon reading the profile? Perhaps they may want to read the lateral’s firm bio or send them a note welcoming them to the firm. Or maybe they want to learn more about the practice or sub-group the lateral is joining. Adding links to the lateral’s firm bio, email address, or practice’s intranet site will enable them to further engage with the new lateral, ultimately helping to achieve the overall goal for the content.
  • For change messaging, adding a way for readers to ask follow-up questions, like a link to the responsible person’s email address, is always a good idea. 

5. Make it channel-appropriate

Consider all of your firm’s communication channels and your target audience’s preferences and needs to determine what channels to use for each type of internal message you need to communicate. Relying solely on email to communicate with your target audience could be a disadvantage since inboxes can easily become overcrowded with missed messages as busy attorneys and colleagues work to serve their clients. 

Your intranet’s ability to provide permanent links to specific content that are broadly accessible to those within the firm makes intranet posts an attractive solution, as these links can easily be shared, found, and referred to later, or be included in future posts or messages, such as an email newsletter to your target audience. Collaboration spaces like Microsoft Teams or Slack may be a great way to communicate messages targeted to specific groups, as long as those audiences actively use the tools. Meetings, presentations, town halls, and physical signage in office spaces may also be good options, depending on the audience and message. 

6. Make it timely

Before you hit ‘send’ or ‘publish,’ consider the timing of your message, as optimizing it can help to gain as much readership and engagement from your target audience as possible. The best time for releasing content is often during peak hours on peak days when most readers are likely to be online and available to read it. Distributing important news or change messaging during peak morning hours early in the week is usually best, especially if there are other related communications or downstream impacts that will need quick resolution after the initial message is released. 

You may also want to consider firm events as well as messages going out to broad audiences within the firm when planning to send a message. For example, you wouldn’t want to send something out during an all-hands town hall or right as your managing partner sends a firmwide email, as your audience’s attention will likely be focused on those. In firms that have a communication team or people responsible for broad internal messaging, it may be wise to consult with them on timing. 

7. Bonus tip: make it trackable

When possible, use tools that enable readership and engagement tracking so you can gauge the effectiveness of your content. Doing so will help you determine the best strategies for your internal communications, as the data will empower you to make informed decisions and support you as discussions with leadership arise. 

There are plenty of tools (including those specific to internal communications) that feature metrics tracking, such as intranet and internal email service providers. Reach out to your IT team or your communication team, if your firm has one, to ask about using them. 

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Kate Lawless, the owner of KJLawless Communications, is a strategic content writer, internal communications pro, former BigLaw communications manager, and freelance reporter. Read her member spotlight and connect with her on LinkedIn

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