Intranet or Email Newsletter: Which is Best for Employees?

There are many ways to communicate with employees these days, but which ones are the best for your business? Frequently, as internal communications professionals review their options, they ask themselves where their time would be better spent: the company intranet or an email newsletter. However, that’s a question that should rephrased. Instead, let’s consider, how can an intranet work in conjunction with an employee newsletter?

When done strategically, your company’s intranet and email newsletter should complement each other like peanut butter and jelly (or peanut butter and chocolate for the jelly-adverse). They each have strengths that the other doesn’t possess and abilities that are unique—a perfect marriage.

The Pros of an Intranet Site

Having an intranet for your company should be the foundation of all your other communications efforts. It should serve as your business’ primary, internal hub for company information. You own it and that is huge.

An intranet site can be bookmarked, accessed easily, and can even be the homepage your employees see when they log on to their work systems each day. Intranets are a great place to house materials employees routinely need, like vacation request forms, annual review checklists, IT protocols, emergency procedures and other reference items. A well maintained intranet can serve as useful digital library. Don’t know where to find something? Look on the intranet!

A strategically developed intranet can also empower you to act quickly when information needs to be shared. When something important happens and needs to be conveyed immediately, chances are you’re not going to tell the powers that be that they have to wait until the next newsletter comes out in three weeks, are you? These are the times you’ll be glad to have a place where you can quickly publish the information you need to get out there.

In short, a good intranet should be like a popular supermarket. Everything you could possible want is there, of the highest of quality, and always in stock. 
The Pros of an Email Newsletter

A beautifully designed and user-friendly electronic newsletter can be a powerful vehicle by which to deliver your content. Since it’s sent via email, your employees will have the information served up to them whenever you choose to share it.

A good email newsletter platform will also have rich analytics that are way more sophisticated than any data you can collect from an intranet site. You can determine open and clickthrough rates, article popularity, and you can see which employees are engaged (based on job title, office location, department, and more). You can also introduce interactive features such as likes, ratings, and commenting.

A newsletter can link back to your company intranet when appropriate (e.g. for those times you may need to host and share a video). And, whereas an intranet serves as a repository for all your company news, an email newsletter allows you to pick and choose the content you want to get front and center for employee consumption.

Another benefit to using an email newsletter for content distribution is the ability to modify your messaging. For instance, you may want to create alternate versions of each issue so you can delete, add, or revise certain information for different satellite offices or regions. Or, for example, you may want to modify the newsletter you created for U.S. employees slightly to send to employees in the Asia office.

Marrying the Best of Both Platforms

To make the most of your communications outreach, it’s important to exploit the strengths of each tool at your disposal. An intranet and an email newsletter have the most value when they work hand in hand, not as two disparate platforms. For instance, your newsletter could feature an article on a new sales incentive program and then link back to your intranet for updated sales forms and rate cards.

As you plot your communications goals, look at the vehicles you are able to employ. Consider the messaging you need to disseminate and determine what is the best approach. How can you marry your messaging to utilize both your intranet and your newsletter in your distribution plans? What information should be layered throughout both platforms? How can you make both tools valuable on their own, yet indispensable when linked together?

Once you answer these questions you’ll be well on your way to having an impactful communications plan that will serve you, your employees, and your company leadership in a meaningful way.

This article is part of a five-part series. The other four parts are linked below:

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