The future of work is being driven by technology. It’s the age of machines and we’re all learning how to race with them, rather than against them. But here’s something that isn’t changing. Even in today’s digital world, strategic communication – with your employees, among your leadership team, to your stakeholders – is still critical. And it needs to remain fundamentally human.

Unfortunately, most communication methods are burdensome and difficult to digest for today’s workforce – and threaten the very productivity certain tools were designed to streamline (email, I’m talking to you). And yes, new employee “talk tools,” and other productivity, collaboration and content curation technologies are abundant. Asana. Basecamp. Skype. HipChat. Google Drive. The list is long and growing. But no matter what app or bot you adopt, and regardless of whether your teams become part machine, keeping communication personal has never been more important, especially internally.

Here are five ways to keep your strategic communication human and your internal audiences in the know, excited and engaged.

  1. Keep it crisp and concise

We’re all time poor. Attention spans are shorter and we consume most of our information on-the-go. “Snackable” bites of information are the norm – take a lesson from Twitter’s now 280-character limit (no longer 140, but still pretty snackable). But remember, internal communication isn’t a text between friends. While emojis do have their place, it’s necessary to find the balance between polished, yet engaging and accessible language. 

  1. Be creative (in delivery format)

Don’t default to the easiest or traditional channels. Core tools like email were once at the forefront of convenience, and for many it’s still a primary tool. But don’t rely on it! Yes, by nature it’s message centric, but email doesn’t foster conversation. It suppresses it. It’s important to prioritize channels that bring humanity to life. Experiment with less formal, but more engaging tools like Slack. Or try out short, punchy video and audio. According to Forester research, one minute of video content is worth 1.8 million words.

  1. Match communication objectives to the right channel

The message is important, but so is how it’s delivered. Think strategically about both. For example, if your intent is to build awareness, consider digital publications, intranet and digital signage. But if you need to problem-solve, lean toward social networking, intranet and town halls, which lend themselves to conversation and collaboration. Or if you’re communicating about change and spurring people to action, town halls are generally best.

  1. Remember to be consistent

One pro of “the age of machines” is that we now have a multitude of distribution channels at our fingertips. Use them all – but be consistent. Consider the one key message you need to communicate and repeatedly expose your audience to executions of it over time. You’ll need to adapt it per channel, but you’ll build trust by staying true and constant in your message and delivery.

  1. Tap into new and different content creators

Hint, employees are great resources. After all, they’re increasingly the voice of any company and they should also be your brand’s greatest champions. Leverage that! Ask employees to contribute blogs. Encourage them to share and engage with your content on social media. Content shared by employees = 8X more engagement than content shared by brand channels.

We can’t fight the fact that the future of work is digital. Technology is the tool; an enabler.Click To TweetWe can’t fight the fact that the future of work (and life) is digital. Remember, technology is the tool; an enabler. And don’t forget that at its core, communication IS personal. It’s human-to-human, no matter the medium.

I’ll leave you with one more essential tip for strategic communication with any audience – internal or otherwise. Communicate from the heart. That’s one thing machines don’t have…yet.
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A strong believer that relationships are the heart of business success, Joan is inspired by helping bring together interesting people, ideas and opportunities. And with nearly two decades at Stern, she has had no shortage of inspiration. In her role leading comprehensive programs and providing strategic counsel, she most enjoys leveraging synergies amongst clients and a wide network of influencers. This knack for forging connections extends to her deep involvement with professional and academic circles. An adjunct professor at Seton Hall University, she is director of digital communication and past president of the PRSA's NJ Chapter. When Joan isn’t making connections in the office, you might find her heading “down the shore,” devouring a good book, chasing around her toddler Elliott, or rocking out to her beloved Foo Fighters.