There is one word within the wonderful world of internal communication that sets my teeth on edge.

Every time I hear it, I hope the intended meaning is the right one. But I often have to keep asking and digging before I get to the detail.

I correct it in my Masterclasses, point it out to my clients and I’ve banned it from my own internal communication advice, guidance and writings.

What is it?

Land.

As in…

“How did the comms land?”

“We landed it to the frontline employees”

“We’re going to land this campaign on Monday.”

Why does it irritate me? Because “landing a message” implies once you’ve hit send on an email for example, the job has been done.

If you’ve been to one of my Masterclasses over the past few years or heard me speak at the PRWeek Strategic Internal Communications conference a couple of weeks ago, you’ll know I’m a fan of this quote from Journalist Sydney J. Harris:

Sydney was an American author and syndicated columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. I’ve been referencing that quote for years as it resonates with me, particularly when I’m analysing an organisation’s internal communication and figuring out what’s going on.

The reason land jars is because it’s often meant in the information giving out and outputs territory, whereas the intention should be communication getting through, which is outcomes territory.

It implies a one-way, broadcast of information, rather than a two-way form of communication where you check for understanding and recall.

To be strategic internal communication practitioners, we need to focus on outcomes, not outputs. This is such an important distinction to make and is how to shift your IC efforts up a gear.

How to know the difference

  • An output is something quantifiable you can measure, such as a click, like or share, number of stories you’ve published or number of Town Halls you’ve held.
  • An outcome is what happens as a result of communication, such as a change in behaviour.

Outputs are easier to measure that outcomes. But outcomes are where the magic happens, it’s how you know whether the efforts you’ve invested in are paying off.

When I have a conversation with a client who tells me: “Rachel we’ve published three stories on the intranet a week and hosted four Town Halls this year,” my reply is typically: “So what? What was the outcome? What did you hope to achieve and did you achieve it?”

Merely listing the number of stories published, page views or bottoms on seats at employee events does not tell me whether the intended efforts were realised.

What’s the story behind your data?

I want to know what happened as a result of these activities? Are your people working in a safer way, are they better informed to have discussions with your customers?

I think this cartoon from the ace business illustrator Virpi Oinonen sums up the difference perfectly…

 

What do you mean?

If you use the word land, what’s the intention behind it?

For example, what are you asking when you say: “Did the Comms land?” It could range from: did people have any questions, did the messaging make sense, did employees know what action to take, are there any issues I should know about?

Or could simply be: did you receive the email?

What could we use instead? Whenever I’m planning anything internal communication related, I set the intentions/objectives, using this reminder…

 

Why? Because if I haven’t set those intentions, there’s no chance of measuring as I don’t know what I was setting out to achieve from my Town Hall, poster, speech, video etc.

How does this apply to land? Try this…

 

 

I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you agree or disagree with me?

Perhaps when you use the word land you do so expecting to know the answers to think/feel/do. Whatever your view, feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC.

Learn about Internal Communication in 2020 with me

Dates for my upcoming All Things IC Masterclasses can be found on my website. They are held at my brand new All Things IC Hub and your investment is £599 +VAT.
CIPR and IoIC members can earn CPD points/hours from attending one of my training courses.
Additional dates will be added soon, but here are upcoming dates to choose from:

Thank you for stopping by

Rachel

First published on the All Things IC blog 17 December 2019.

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