October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. April is Autism Awareness Month. March sees Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal.
Time-specific campaigns can be a great way for charities to raise awareness of their work and the difference they aim to make. They can also be an opportunity for different organisations doing similar things to work together. From a communications perspective, a lot of time and effort goes in to the campaign messages and to getting those across to the general public, funders and specialists who can contribute to the overall campaign objectives.
And what about internal audiences? Organisations that run successful awareness campaigns recognise the important role their staff and volunteers play. They know that it is key for their own people to be able to talk about what is happening during the month and why. There may also be direct actions that they need staff and volunteers to take, such as signing a petition or distributing fundraising leaflets. In smaller organisations an ‘all hands to the pumps’ approach to big campaigns and activities is more common, but it can be more difficult in larger organisations for individuals to connect campaigns from other teams or directorates to their own work.
There are steps that internal communicators can take to help in these situations. In many ways, internal communication about an awareness month or campaign should be treated exactly the same as any large project. A communications plan that supports the overall activity plan, with clear objectives, messages and audience understanding at its heart, will help to guide effective internal communication at a time when much of the focus is on stakeholders outside the organisation.
Here are 3 areas to think about when putting together the internal communication plan:
1. Be clear on what you want your internal audiences to know and do during the month or the campaign. Then look at what they know already and what will motivate them to take the actions. For example, if you want them to sign a petition about a policy affecting people with disabilities and then share it with their friends on Facebook, what will make them want to do it? Or if you would like them to sign up to fundraise at their local shopping centre on a Saturday, how will you motivate them to join in? You need to think about making your communications engaging from their perspective and not just about the ask.
2. Make sure your messages about the campaign acknowledge that this is an internal audience. Although the gap between internal and external communication is much narrower today than it was in the past, there are still times when demonstrating an understanding of internal needs goes a long way. An awareness month or campaign provides a great opportunity to engage staff and volunteers in a collective effort to bring about change, that is separate from, but linked to, the work they do every day.
3. Keep your communication fresh and look for new perspectives. In the same way there’s a risk of the general public getting compassion fatigue, there can be a sense internally of ‘here we go again’ when an awareness month happens every year. It can be all too easy to roll out the same communications plan every time. Updating your messages with successes from previous years and new angles for this year can make your communications more engaging. You can also look for new ways to reach out to people, perhaps taking the opportunity to trial a new channel or develop a new style collaboration event.
How do you communicate your awareness months and campaigns internally? I’d love to hear how it works for you. And if you’d like some help with planning for something you’ve got coming up, please do get in touch.
Until next time