internal communication

More Than a Mission Statement: How a Mantra Can Build Your Brand and Culture

More Than a Mission Statement: How a Mantra Can Build Your Brand and Culture

Words and images are powerful tools for building a company’s culture. And yet they are too often underused in business.

While mission and values are at the center of an organization’s culture-building language, a mantra can flesh those out. If, for example, excellence is one of your values, a mantra can focus attention on how excellence occurs.

14 Tips on Communicating with Employees During Layoffs, Mergers, or Other Times of Change

14 Tips on Communicating with Employees During Layoffs, Mergers, or Other Times of Change

Are you in the midst of layoffs? Budget-cuts? A merger or acquisition?

If you are downsizing, then you know the anxiety it produces among employees and the way it impacts morale, productivity, and customers. Communication during these times is a powerful tool that can help keep your employees engaged during difficult times. Here are 14 internal communication tips we’ve seen work during difficult times:

17 Top Internal Communication Channels [Infographic]


Video outperforms all other media in getting viewed and remembered. 

People remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, but 70% of what they see and hear. So it's no surprise that video is the most powerful communication tool there is. Video can combine arresting visuals with sound and motion, making it more engaging to the human brain than any other form of communication.

Video is versatile for internal communication too, because it comes in all price points and many formats—from whiteboard explainers and motion graphics to interview-driven or cinematic stories. It ranks fourth among most-used digital channels, with 81% of companies surveyed reportedly using it for internal communication, according to Gatehouse. 

This is why video is becoming a central part of internal communication plans.


Curious what video marketing can do for you?

Read our Definitive Guide to Video Marketing and find all of our tips and tricks to help your business grow. 


A microsite is a simple website that is highly focused and makes it easy for the viewer to find exactly what they came for. This is in contrast to a general company website that is designed to deliver many different messages and risks losing the viewer before they find what you want them to read.

We highly recommend microsites for targeted large-scale internal communication initiatives for several reasons: They are quick to produce, effective, highly focused, and provide great analytics. 

For example, a microsite would work well to explain a merger or acquisition by featuring the primary content on the landing page—and having links that unpack the message in more detail.

Blogs are a versatile internal communication channel and come from leaders as well as employees and departments. The challenges are to keep it real, to keep it in the voice of the leader (if ghostwritten), and to keep the content coming. Most blogs fizzle when writers begin to see the work involved.

Still, they offer an inexpensive and personal way to communicate with employees—and can target special interests ranging from IT changes to personnel issues. They're also a good way to create more personal connections with a leader.

Bill Marriott's blog Marriott on the Move is a good example of a blog that carries a definite personal imprint of its author. DocInTheD is a physician and the CEO of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. You likely have blogs you follow that can inspire you with possibilities as well.


Facebook, YouTube,  Instagram, and Twitter are among the highest-traffic social media channels and can be targeted by interest groups, departments, or topics. These interactive channels can be suited to sharing ideas and issues and for monitoring feedback from employees.

The downside, of course, is that social media cannot be controlled, which means it remains one of the most challenging channels for communicators to monitor and influence.


Enterprise communication apps that are dedicated to employee communication are on the rise, and for good reason. They provide a customizable channel for delivering text, audio, and video content to employees throughout the company—allowing employees to communicate beyond email and phone calls. 

Apps vary by vendor but can allow preference settings and be used to deliver:

  • News

  • Executive updates

  • Videos

  • Recognition

  • Blogs

  • Access to mission-critical sites for employees

  • Notifications

  • Surveys

While willingness to download an app for internal communication is growing, the issue of using one's personal device for work remains a challenge.

According to Gatehouse's annual State of the Sector report, email is still the most frequently used channel for internal communication (96% use it).

It can be challenging, however, to reach those whose inboxes are full or who don't have desk jobs. Here are some tips on getting your internal communication emails read.

1. Start with the main point in a single sentence.
We’re sometimes tempted to start at the beginning to tell the whole story, thinking that a reader needs to understand what led to the point. In some cases, this requires too much work for the reader to get to the point, so they abandon ship. Start with a summary statement that gives them enough information if they go no further—or a reason to proceed.

2. Invest in writing a good subject line.
This not only helps someone decide if he or she should read it, but helps them find it later. Retrieval of emails later can be time-consuming and downright frustrating if the subject line isn’t clear. Examples:

  • New vacation policy starts Friday

  • Here's the annual president's address to employees

  • Announcing the addition of new partner

3. Make it easy to browse.

  • Use subheads to help the reader find the section pertinent to him or her.

  • Use bullets instead of paragraphs.

  • Underline, highlight, or change font colors on the key point (deadline, cost increase, action needed).

  • Make action items and next steps stand out visually (in the subject line, when appropriate).

  • If more detailed backstory is imperative, indicate where the reader can find it. Title it clearly and put it at the end, so only those who want it can find it.

4. Give your reader just-in-time information.
Many readers prefer to focus on just the next step, rather than the next 10 steps. Most don’t have time to save it and review it over a period of months as it becomes relevant.

See four more tips here.


Podcasts are being used for internal communication because they fit nicely between text and video—giving employees content to listen to while engaged in other activities that don't require visual focus. Whether doing chores, or exercising, people increasingly crave content to enrich life's more mundane activities. 

A podcast:

  • Can be authentic and believable

  • Can feature voices of employees

  • Can personalize leaders

Podcasts are a versatile tool, but companies that use them will need to have an effective delivery channel (think apps and e-letters).


E-letters are more sophisticated versions of emails that aren't used for daily interactions, but for important messages. And according to Gatehouse's internal communication State of the Sector report, 84% of companies surveyed report using it, making it third among most-used digital channels by employees. 

Because e-letters are developed using third-party services, they offer vastly better design options, great analytics, and mailing list management. Their ability to preserve the look of an email is higher than regular emails, making them much more engaging once they are opened. But like all email, they must compete with an increasingly full inbox. 

Here are the first three of 14 tips we offer for creating e-letter emails that employees will engage with:

  1. Use a third-party tool. It would be nearly impossible to create the essential features that these tools now offer, from sophisticated designs to insightful analytics, automated features that help you manage and grow your lists, and mobile optimization. We use Campaign Monitor, but there are others to choose from, as well.

  2. Use great design. A reader makes a split-second decision about whether to engage with your email based on how it looks. Good design will absolutely increase your readership.

  3. Curate content with care. Make sure that your distribution lists and topics are right for each other.

Want to learn more? You can find the rest of the tips here


An intranet is a website that is only accessible to authorized viewers—usually your employees. Ninety-three percent of companies report using their intranet as a channel of communication, making it second only to emails, according to Gatehouse.

An intranet can be a solid framework for employee communication—allowing your teams to share content like news, blogs, forms, messages, team workspaces, directories, and training material.  

Although an intranet has the ability to reach your entire workforce, because the quality varies widely its effectiveness is highly impacted by the user interface, design, and content.

LLLO Window Signs lobby 020515 KA_Part1.jpg

Yes, your walls can talk! They are free communication channels that can reach employees and customers many times a day. Think of them as ideal places to communicate some of your most timeless messages—your mission, your history, your values. 

Walls are versatile and suitable for digital as well as traditional messages. If your main traffic areas aren't delivering your signature messages to your team, it's time to make use of these targeted channels.


Portable displays are good for targeting specific messages that need to be shared in different locations. Celebrating a prestigious award? Reinforcing your new mission statement? Announcing a new service for employees? A display can make the rounds to departments and employee events to spread the word.

Screens dominate our workplace—and provide an affordable way to deliver messages, so it only makes sense to use them as an internal communication channel.

Whether it's repurposing videos or infographics on a wall monitor or showcasing your mission or values as screensavers, never underestimate the simple, hard-working nature of using your company's screens to deliver signature messages. 


We don't need a study to tell us that in-person communication is the most effective channel.

But did you know that communication from direct managers is the most effective channel for reaching employees, according to a CEB survey of more than 1,000 employees?

Since so much of communication is conveyed in nonverbal cues, in-person message delivery provides more information to take in like eyes, body language and voice tone. And, we know that emotions are contagious—and much easier to deliver in person than in print.

Companies that are serious about internal communication should focus on training and resourcing their managers and leaders in communication.


Forums and meetings are effective ways to deliver your ideas because of their ability to combine in-person communication with other effective channels. They offer the increased efficiency of one to many, maximizing the time of busy leaders. 

But like other channels, this one is only as good as the content. So here are some tips on making live meetings work better:

  • Coordinate messages: If you have multiple speakers, have someone review all of them with an eye toward the entire event—and edit out redundancy.

  • Focus: Leaders have a tendency to want to share a great deal of content, so create time limits and help them focus on unpacking their one big idea. Too much content can prevent hearers from remembering the most important ideas.

  • Variety: To work, events like this need to be created with a nod to theater and experience, engaging the senses with variety, taking breaks, involving the audience, and creating time for reflection and personal application.

  • Include video: This provides a welcome break to talking heads.


Newsletters, magazines, and other print channels aren't dead, but complement your digital channels.


  • Help reach non-desk employees

  • Are easily shared

  • Are good for the pick-up-since-it's-handy impulse

  • Can be repurposed digitally

Since they can be more costly than other channels and are harder to measure than many digital options, use them in situations where other channels aren't effective.

There are times when a simple letter from a manager is actually effective—like when the message itself is compelling and doesn't require a lot of visual support. Think things like a positive change in benefits or other things that have a high personal impact on employees. It can be easy to forget this lowly channel, but its affordability and suitability for certain kinds of communications should keep it on your list as an option for occasional use.

To make this effective, however, personalize the letter as much as you can. If it's truly from the president, it won't need much added visual treatment.


Upon occasion, it will make sense to send something to your employees' homes. Whether it's a reminder postcard, a newsletter, an invitation, or a simple letter, employees have more time to read at home than they do at work. And, if it's a high-impact message, it won't hurt to have it available for other members of the family who might be interested.


CMBell Company and Clients Win Five National Awards

Creative work by CMBell and our clients has garnered five awards from the 34th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards competition.

  • Three gold awards were given for an internal communication microsite, an OB direct mail, and a video on reducing the cost of homelessness.

  • One bronze award was given for an e-letter.

  • One silver award was given for a video on innovation in health care.

The award-winning work was produced by clients in Los Angeles, Denver and Roseville.

In this year’s competition, nearly 4,000 entries were judged by a national panel who reviewed creativity, quality, message effectiveness, consumer appeal, graphic design, and overall impact.

Hats off to our creative team and to our clients for earning this recognition!

GOLD: AHSCR—Internal communication website communicating the reasons behind the new strategic direction and outlining a vision for the company's future.

GOLD: Littleton Adventist Hospital—Direct mail piece as part of a larger campaign that significantly increased market share.

GOLD: White Memorial Medical Center—A video about their work to reduce the cost of homelessness in Los Angeles.

SILVER: Adventist Health—A CEO update on innovation within the company.

BRONZE: AHSCR—One of a series of e-letters sent from the CEO to leaders as part of an internal communication campaign that raised understanding of the vision, values and mission of the organization.

What Kind of Communication Do Millennials Want at Work?

When it comes to millennials, one of the most important actions employers can take to improve their engagement is to offer routine feedback. According to a recent Gallup report, only 19% of young workers state that they regularly receive feedback, and just 17% acknowledge that the feedback they get is meaningful.

This type of internal communication could involve technologies like Slack or others that connect managers and their teams with real-time feedback.

You can read more about the Gallup survey and how to engage your workforce here. The bottom line: millennials have grown up in a world of continuous feedback, which has deeply shaped their employment expectations. Employers who understand and respond to this will see higher employee engagement among this demographic.

How You Can Use Internal Communication to Build Employee Engagement


It’s no secret that employees who buy into your company’s mission and vision will make you more successful.

In fact, Gallup says that the most engaged teams will have four times the odds of success compared with teams with low engagement.

So it’s surprising to learn that seven out of 10 employees are not engaged at work. And the cost is real:

  • Lower productivity
  • Poorer quality
  • More safety incidents
  • Higher absenteeism and turnover
  • Poorer customer satisfaction
  • Higher employee health care costs

Today’s Employees Are Overfed—Yet Starved

While several factors impact engagement, communication’s central role can’t be overlooked.

It’s not that employees lack communication—more information than ever is clamoring for their attention. It’s that they are often starved for the right kind of communication at work.

They hear a lot about problems to solve, regulations to meet, targets to reach, and customer concerns. But they hear too little about things that ignite their passion and help them connect their work to their purpose.

Think of communication as nourishment for the soul. Employees need a balanced diet that includes messages that inspire. They need to understand the “Why?” behind what they are asked to do. This includes:

  • Vision: What the destination is, and how you’ll get there
  • Mission: Why their work matters
  • Values: The principles that drive behavior
  • Strategy: How their work connects to a broader vision
  • Stories: How their work impacts customers and co-workers
  • Their role: What’s expected of them

Strategic, intentional communication with your inner circle can change the future of your company. It can help build employee support for your most pressing business goals, revitalize your culture, and spread to your customers in the form of better service and products.

Winning at Business Starts With Your Employees

It’s nearly impossible to win customers if you have not first won the hearts and minds of your own employees.

This is why internal communication is gaining more and more attention and resources. It can:

  • Connect employees to their purpose
  • Inspire them with a mission that brings meaning to their work
  • Give them a better understanding of how their work fits into the company’s strategy
  • Help them understand and support decisions that are made
  • Help them deal with change
  • Build a robust and healthy culture

10 Ways to Up Your Internal Communication Game

So how do leaders get their teams to embrace their vision? To share the same dreams? To move in sync with each other toward a common goal?

  1. Make a strategic communication plan that identifies your key messages, how often and when they’ll be delivered, and the target audience for each. It doesn’t have to be complicated—just clear and executable.
  2. Create a compelling picture of the destination before outlining how you’ll get there. Weave a story around the vision that invites others to step into it, inspires the mind, and ignites curiosity. Once employees know the destination, you can show them the plan to get there.
  3. Make it personal. How will the vision impact employees? What exactly should they do differently? What is their role in success? Why is it important? Use specific examples and stories that draw them in.
  4. Use language employees understand. Corporate-speak weighs down a message, so if you struggle with this, have an outsider review what you plan to say before you deliver it.
  5. Use the media they’re using. While email is still the most used channel for internal communication, video is gaining ground as appetites for this medium soar. A mix of media is best, so don’t rule out in-person forums, print pieces, apps, and intranets. And, of course, all of your digital communication needs to be mobile-friendly.
  6. Engage the senses. Visually rich messages inundate today’s employee—so a slow-moving, text-heavy presentation won’t be the most compelling way to deliver your important messages. Great visuals are now essential to get and keep your listeners’ attention. And, of course, the motion, music, and sound that video offers makes your message even more engaging.
  7. Understand their world. Cognitive overload is real. Employees get too much information—but not enough inspiration. Connecting your ideas to their sense of purpose is the best way to inspire them.
  8. Keep it short. Employees like their information in short, snackable, yet content-rich formats that they can ingest quickly.
  9. Repeat your essential messages. Yes, over and over and over. By the time you’re weary of saying it, it will just be gaining traction.
  10. Listen. Communication is a two-way street. Give employees more than one way to submit questions and ideas, then use that to drive content.

It’s Time to Resource Internal Communication

While 70% of senior leaders value internal communication, only 49% of companies have a written internal communication plan, according to Gatehouse’s State of the Sector 2016 survey on internal communication and employee engagement, which surveyed more than 300 organizations in 70 countries.

Even fewer—27% of those surveyed—have a dedicated budget. This will likely change with the growing concern leaders have about low employee engagement.

If You’re in Health Care, Know This

The unprecedented rate of change and uncertainty in health care leaves employees looking for clarity about what’s most important. Yet even in times of change, engagement is possible.

“Nearly eight in 10 employees are engaged when workers strongly agree there is open communication, opportunities to provide input, a clear connection between current changes and the company’s future, and management support for changes that affect their work group. When employees disagree, a mere 1% are engaged,” according to Gallup.

Gallup says that clear communication and a well-articulated mission and purpose that’s consistent with the culture are two of the strategies top-performing health care organizations handle better than their peers.

Need Help?

Wondering how to put together an internal communication plan, develop your essential message points, or craft a creative narrative that speaks to employees?

14 Ways to Help Your Internal Communication Emails Get Read

Email is still a common way to communicate with employees internally—but it can be challenging to reach those whose inboxes are full or who don't have desk jobs.

That's why it's important to use every available tool to get your strategic internal emails read. Here are 14 tips for creating an email that gets opened and read:

  1. Use a third-party tool. It would be nearly impossible to create the essential features that these tools now offer, from sophisticated designs to insightful analytics, automated features that help you manage and grow your lists, and mobile optimization. We use Campaign Monitor, but there are others to choose from, as well.

  2. Use great design that makes it easy for your recipient to engage. A reader makes a split-second decision about whether to read your email based on how it looks. Good design will absolutely increase your readership.

  3. Curate content with care. Make sure that your distribution lists and topics are right for each other.

  4. Avoid corporate-speak and overly sanitized messages that don't feel authentic. Use simple, clear words that speak to what your audience cares about.

  5. Use arresting photos. The human brain can take in the information in a photo instantly—but that same information could take pages of text to convey. Look for a great (not good) stock image that doesn't look like a stock image, or invest in a custom shot by a professional. Generally speaking, use more pictures than text if you want to increase readership.

  6. Include a video. It can increase your open rates by 19% and your click rate by more than 50%. An estimated 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after viewing a video.

  7. Keep your text short. Constant Contact says that 20 lines of text and three or fewer images result in optimal email campaign click rates. In our experience with A/B testing, shorter copy pulled better by 11 percentage points.

  8. Draw the reader in with a subject line that invites curiosity and makes a promise your reader cares about.

  9. Create a call to action that's clear and compelling. Visual buttons elicit more clicks than text links.

  10. Send it from someone meaningful that the recipient knows and would like to hear from.

  11. Do A/B testing. Change just one variable at a time, so you know which one made the difference. Try sending it with different subject lines, short vs. longer versions of your content, or using different images. You can also try sending it on different days and at different times.

  12. Review your analytics and incorporate what you learn into your next e-letter. Open rates and clicks vary by industry and audience, so compare yours to those that are similar to yours.

  13. Don't spam. Cognitive overload is real. Delivering relevant, timely messages in the right dosage shows respect for your audience and can help keep your emails from getting ignored.

  14. Invite feedback. Include an Ask-Me-Anything link and see what you can learn.

Want to see what the best are doing? Campaign Monitor provides some inspiration with Campaign Monitor’s 97 top marketing campaigns.

How Internal Communication Can Prevent Physician Burnout

Engaging physicians is vital—and an area of internal communication that is too often neglected. While health care professionals have a strong impulse to help others, daily work can sometimes make it easy to forget this. That's when engagement slumps, burnout happens and the drive for excellent quality and service wanes.
The antidote? Stories. Not just any stories, but stories that show how a peer is keeping the impulse to serve awake. Stories that remind people of their purpose at work.
Watch and see for yourself. Were you different at the end of this remarkable story?

Why Good Ideas Aren't Enough: A Message To Leaders

Most leaders can see a vision for their company that will help it thrive. But the next step is the hard one—how to get these critical ideas adopted—and executed?
Here are some tips:

  1. Create a strategic communication plan that lists the key messages, how often and when they’ll be delivered, and who will be responsible for each.  It doesn’t have to be complicated—just clear and executable.
  2. Deliver the vision of the destination before you go into the how. Paint a picture of how life will look after the idea has taken hold.
  3. Use language employees understand. Corporate-speak adds weight that drags down a message, so if you struggle with this, have an outsider review it and point out places where this is occurring.
  4. Make it personal. How will it impact them? What exactly should they do differently now?  What is their role in success?
  5. Use the media they relate to. Is it a video on a mobile-friendly site? An e-letter? A forum? (And yes, you’ll need to use multiple ones.)
  6. Engage the senses. Today’s employee is saturated by visually rich messages—so an overworked text-heavy power point isn’t going to have the impact you need. Great visuals are now essential. And to kick it up a notch, use video to bring motion, music and sound and dramatically increase the impact of your message.
  7. Understand their world. Employees get too much information—but not enough inspiration. Connecting your ideas to their sense of purpose is the best way to inspire them.
  8. Keep it short. Employees like their information in short, snackable formats that they can ingest quickly.
  9. Repeat it. Yes, over and over and over. By the time you’re weary of saying it, it will just be gaining traction.
  10. Listen. Communication is a two-way street. Employees should have some way of submitting questions and ideas that get answered. 

These tried-and-true strategies will absolutely help your ideas spread. What other tools are helping you get your ideas heard?

Are Your Internal Communication Emails Working?

Employee communication is gaining more attention and resourcing in companies because it plays an important role in both employee engagement and alignment. A central tool of this is using email to convey the strategies, successes and goals which help people do their jobs better.
Email is a highly targeted tool that can provide metrics that help you see what messages are getting viewed and by whom, and because of this, should be a central part of every company’s communication strategy.
But should your internal e-letters be judged by the same metrics as external e-letters? What kind of results should you be getting from your internal communication e-letters and campaigns?
In this helpful infographic by Newsweaver, you can see some national benchmark metrics for open and click rates specifically targeted to internal communications.
We’re seeing real success with our clients in using this as a tool to build culture, engagement and alignment. Where are you seeing this used well?