*NEW* Top tips
The Internal Communications Team in the Department of Corporate Communications aims to:
- strengthen relations between members of all the different departments, be they academic or support units;
- aid dissemination of information from the decision-making bodies to the rest of the University and elicit feedback;
- foster an atmosphere and culture of belonging and ownership.
How? By keeping members of the University community informed about:
- news - what's happening on campus, as well as what we are telling the media and what they are saying about us;
- issues of corporate strategy & policy - through policy documents and minutes of meetings;
- ongoing projects - to understand their necessity and follow their progress;
- practical/functional information - from building works and catering arrangements to consultations with HEFCE and staff development opportunities;
- events - on campus and when our staff are invited elsewhere.
The Internal Communications Team uses various channels of communication:
University internal homepage
When users are located on the University network, www.bath.ac.uk directs you to the internal homepage. You can access the internal homepage from off campus using www.bath.ac.uk/internal. The page provides the latest news and acts as an information portal. The Homepage is updated daily but we try to keep items visible for at least 48 hours; previous items can be found in the news archive. To submit a news item, email email@example.com
When Students are on campus, the homepage of PCs in public areas defaults to www.bath.ac.uk/students. The Students page contains news, information and events that are relevant to undergraduate and postgraduate students. The page is updated most days. If you have a message that needs circulating to students, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The University has a Facebook fan page where we post our news and research, as well as our latest videos and photos. You can also interact, post comments, create discussions and upload your own University photos. Over 7,000 people 'like' the 'UniofBath Facebook' page; this number includes staff, students, alumni, prospective students and friends of the University, as well as journalists, research councils, etc.
The popular micro-blogging service allows its users to send and read updates (tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. In the past we have found Twitter very useful at times of emergency communications (for instance, when we have snow and need to close campus) because it is so accessible on the world wide web and through mobile phones, and is a simple way of posting short information updates. The ‘UniofBath’ Twitter site has over 10,000 followers; it's easy to sign up for a free account.
Uni Update - weekly staff enewsletter
The online newsletter, which is emailed to all staff on a Friday, is a digest of all the news that has appeared on the University Internal Homepage the previous week. It also contains details about forthcoming events, training opportunities and information that staff need to know in order to be able to carry out their jobs.
Staff can keep up to date with what the press and media are saying about the University by subscribing to our daily 'Headlines' email. Please email email@example.com and include the word 'Headlines' in the subject box. A selection of HE stories in the national media is also included. A full list of our media appearances can be found online.
University What's On Calendar
A self-submission online calendar containing events taking place on campus and at Carpenter House in the city, and details of events run by our affiliated organisations, such as the Holburne Museum and the BRLSI. You can submit items to the calendar yourself; these are moderated within 48 hours by the Internal Communications Team. 'Today's events' appear in the What's On section of the University Homepage. Please submit events in plenty of time to allow for moderation.
University News Noticeboard
Situated outside Wessex Restaurant, it is refreshed weekly, and acts as a point of reference for those staff without easy access to computers. We are considering other locations for News noticeboards. Please email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Internal Communications Team is always ready to help you find the information you require or the relevant person for you to contact. Please email email@example.com or call ext 3503.
Internal communications play a vital role in the functioning of any organisation. This is especially true of the University of Bath whose internal audiences work different hours and shifts, and carry out a wide range of functions.
Good internal communications are necessary to support the University's strategic development.
- an understanding of institutional objectives and their purpose, in order to be able to participate in the process of achieving them;
- functional information in order to be able to do their job efficiently and effectively;
- details about change and help to adapt.
In addition to the practical aspect, there is the deeper role of internal communications:
- Developing and maintaining a sense of community and cohesion amongst staff;
- Giving staff a sense of belonging and ownership of the organisation;
- Reinforcing core organisational values;
- Developing a culture of encouraging and celebrating success and achievement, thereby improving morale and motivation, encouraging pride in the University and achieving more unity of purpose towards common goals.
The responsibility of internal communications is a shared one. Although a certain amount can be achieved through a central service, a significant degree of responsibility lies with faculties, schools and departments (both academic and support units). Deans, directors, heads of department and administrators all play an important role in disseminating information and obtaining useful feedback from their staff. Communication is, after all, a two-way process.
Staff are the most important of the University's major stakeholders. Each employee has the potential of acting as an ambassador for the University, further spreading its reputation, and are more likely to do so if they feel involved and valued by the organisation. Improving and maintaining internal communications is one way of achieving this.
The Internal Communications Team is always ready to help you find the information you require or the relevant person for you to contact. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Instead of thinking about what you want to communicate, think about what your audience needs to know and how you want them to think or feel or what action you would like them to take.
Are you clear about your communication objectives?
- What do I want people to do after they have received my communication?
- What do I want them to think?
- How do I want them to feel?
These objectives may not be the same as the corporate objectives but the two should be linked.
eg If the corporate objective is to get all staff to check and, if necessary, update their personal details on Employee Self Service (ESS), then the communication objective(s) could be that all staff have read and understood the guidance on how to update their ESS information and why this is important.
Who do you need to talk to?
Once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve from your communication you can start to identify who needs to know (your target audience).
This will obviously include those who are directly affected by the information in the communication, but could also be those not directly affected but who could influence the success or not of the project or initiative.
Different groups will often need different messages and one size rarely fits all.
How do I define my audiences?
Ask yourself the following questions and you may find that the various groups of people you need to target become clearer:
- Who needs to do what?
- What is their existing level of knowledge on the subject?
- Where are they based?
- Do they have access to the same communication channels?
- How are they likely to feel about your communication?
- How do you want them to feel?
What do you want to say?
Keep your message simple and relevant to that particular audience. Ask yourself what’s in it for your audience and why is it in their interest to read/listen/interact with your communication. Make sure you address this in your communication.
Developing your key messages:
- Prioritise your messages – put the most important one first;
- Be clear – get straight to the point and keep it simple and direct. Try to avoid jargon and acronyms;
- Be positive – talk about the benefits and be clear what this means to your audience;
- Be engaging – think about using ‘we’ and ‘you’, instead of ‘the University’ or ‘staff’.
How will you deliver your communication?
You need to give your communication the best chance of being read or seen or heard and for it to be understood and acted on. So choosing the right communication channel or combination of channels is crucial. It’s also vital to ensure that communications are consistent across them.
There are a number of communication channels currently in use at the University. Some or all of these will be at your disposal depending on your role:
- Internal homepage (University website). (To submit a news item, please email email@example.com);
- Weekly email newsletter - submit items for inclusion by Thursday 12 noon, please email firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Noticeboards (including pin boards, digital screens and the A4 clip frames on the Parade);
- Targeted email (with links to specific pages of the University website where appropriate);
- Departmental newsletters (electronic or hard copy);
- What's on calendar;
- Electronic noticeboard;
- Departmental & team meetings – encouraging funnelling & cascading of the messages;
- 1-2-1 meetings with line managers;
- Special purpose meetings (eg. to discuss or explain a new policy or initiative);
- Departmental visits (by senior managers);
- University & Faculty meetings & minutes (for members of Council, Executive and Heads of Department);
Tips for choosing the right channel:
- Make sure your audience has access to the channel you’re using;
- Think about how urgent the message is; some channels have longer lead-in times than others;
- It may be that a combination of channels is the best approach to add impact and longevity.
When to say it
The impact of your communication will be wasted if the audience doesn’t receive it when they need it: Too early and people may forget when they need to do something; too late and people will feel like they haven’t had a chance to understand the information and get involved.
Tips for communicating at the right time:
- Timing is everything – decide when your message will have the most impact (eg. Academic holidays are not the best time to target students);
- Consider if your audience is expected to respond to the communication. If so, have you factored in that time…and who do they need to respond to?
- Do you know what else is going on at the University at that time? Will anything else happen to distract your audience’s attention away? Can you plan around this?
- If the message is complex or sensitive then face-to-face communication may be the best approach and that can time to achieve effectively;
If you don’t measure the impact and effectiveness of your communication, it will be difficult to know if you have met your objectives.
Once your communication activity is complete then ask yourself the following to help evaluate its success:
- Has the communication been received?
- Has the communication been understood?
- Has the communication been acted upon (the business objective?)
- How can the communication be improved?
- Is there more to be done?