An engaging & relevant read

Employee communications tools

An article

Purpose Typical audience Pros Cons Can you do it yourself? Thinking points
To inform a larger audience simultaneously about a specific topic through an engaging and relevant story.  Anyone who is relevant (provided they can access your article – either traditionally or online). Low cost, especially if you write it yourself. Many people only read the headlines of articles – plus you need to be a good writer! Yes, provided you can write well.  Keep it short, relevant and engaging. 

What is this tool?

A written story is a great way to convey a detailed message or topic in an engaging and entertaining way. The key: gaining and holding the attention of your audience! The personal angle usually works well; although more formal and factual articles can also be effective - depending on your message and audience! 

What and when is it typically used?

Articles are ideal for delving into a topic and helping colleagues gain a greater understanding of them (for example, shining the spotlight on a particular achievement or announcement).

Choose a style that fits your topic. For example, if writing a story about a successful project implementation, you could take a more personal approach by interviewing those involved to discover how they achieved it. For a story detailing a set of changes to an IT system, you may want to be more factual and to-the-point - so that your audience gets the ‘need to know’ information easily and quickly.

Of course, you can include articles in existing DSM newsletters. But there’s also nothing to stop you from sharing an article via your external social media account: for example, a blogpost on LinkedIn.

Benefits

  1. You can reach many people simultaneously.
  2. Easy for readers to forward a good online article to others.
  3. An online article can be an effective ‘reference point’ that people can refer to via a hyperlink.
  4. A series of stories on a specific topic or key message can help build awareness and engagement.

Challenges

  1. Starting off with your key message and sticking to it can be a challenge.
  2. Writing an article can take some time, especially if you are not a professional writer. Decide on the cost and time versus the benefit for you.
  3. If you’re not a professional writer, you can hire one. It’s a lot faster, but it comes at a cost. A copywriter needs on average 3-to-4 hours to write a 600-word article.
  4. Avoid ‘telling everyone everything’ as this results in a long, unfocused article with less impact. 

How to use this tool?

  • Do you know where you’ll publish your article? Will you use existing local or global newsletters, or social media? Make sure you’re aware of the guidelines for each specific channel - for example, what is the word count and does the article need to be in specific languages?
  • Check out how to write a powerful story. Use the guide questions to ensure you have the right content in the correct order to develop a powerful article.
  • If writing a personal story, should it be from you - or perhaps a colleague with more direct experience? If the latter, you may need to organize an interview or ask questions via an email; or you could just ask for a quote to accompany your article. Always make sure you have their written approval before publication.
  • If you’re not comfortable writing the article, or you don’t have time… you can choose to hire a copywriter. Just make sure you agree the brief and costs upfront.
  • Always try and ask a colleague to review your story. Does it make sense and is it a good read? What does he or she remember after your story and does that reflect the key message you had in mind? Adjust your article based on their feedback.
  • Choose a suitable image that fits your story. Ideally, you want one that best illustrates or complements your story. It could be a photo of the author, team members, or action shots; or maybe there are other graphics or artwork to include? Just remember, we can only use copyright-free images.
  • Send your article with images in the right format to the channel owners for publication; or publish it yourself on your personal account(s).
  • … and enjoy receiving positive feedback!

Things to keep in mind

  • Before you start your article, check where you could publish it. Are internal channel owners willing to publish your article? Maybe best to check first.
  • Don’t start your story at the beginning; start with the most important takeaways for your audience - because many don’t read through to the end. Check out how to write a powerful story.
  • Keep it short if you can, and as easy to understand as possible. Your article can always refer to other sources for further reading.
  • Always follow the guidelines in our DSM Writing Guide.
  • If you want to publish your story on the DSM News Center, please remember to reach out to the relevant owner of the news source you want to use.

KPIs for this tool

This really depends on where you publish your article. If using a Sharepoint site, you could track the number of page visits; or if via email you could look at read receipts.

  • Bottom line: Check out the KPIs of the channels you want to use.

Final thoughts

If this a stand-alone initiative, then go ahead! However, if this is part of a wider initiative, you might want to take a step back and look at the broader communications perspective. A good starting point is our 9-step approach to creating your communication plan - which includes an overview of all the internal channels and tools.

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