My OASIS gig in Bristol

Post by Laura Boxall, Ministry of Defence

Tuesday 17 January 2017

No, sadly, the 90s super-band had not reformed to perform an intimate surprise set-list at Bristol’s Yurt Lush last Monday.

Those turning up for guitar led anthems would have been severely disappointed to encounter me, and a presentation on how OASIS communication planning applies to internal communications. I wonder now how old this joke is… never mind (wait, another 90s classic is creeping in… I am showing my age. Stop.)

I will confess here that being under the weather, I was not on my best form. Thankfully the Yurt’s cosy space meant my voice had a good chance of reaching those assembled. Apologies to all that attended; I do hope you left with something more than a few germs. 

Getting started with a quick poll of assembled South West communicators indicated that a good two-thirds of them work in internal communications, and a few as Heads of Internal Comms. Intimidating? Just a bit. ‘The basics’, ‘IC evaluation’, ‘audience insight’ and ‘how to deliver real time feedback’ were a few of the areas communicators wanted to get from my talk, and so this formed the backbone of content, drawing on the OASIS model . I brought a simple IC campaign example along to illustrate how I’d applied the model in practice, along with a number of IC award winning campaigns as examples.

We focused first on objectives, and setting metrics against objectives to make certain they are achievable (the A in SMART), considering the outcomes, and what we want our audiences to think, feel and do as a result of our communications, using the GCS evaluation framework as a guide. Everyone was in agreement that awareness based objectives as a sole indicator are weak, and we should strive for aligning our work back to organisational strategy and delivering impact.

Sources of audience data and generating insight are arguably harder to come by than external communications (especially if budgets are tight or non-existent for external research support). However we came up with a decent list including demographic detail from HR; Your Say (or equivalent) staff survey results; research and evaluation from previous campaigns; bespoke research; discussion forums and blog posts and comments; corporate data held in other teams or service functions; formal and informal views from senior management; corporate branding / perception research; and feedback gathered from events and IC activities. There are no doubt many more. Take a look at the IC Space pages on audience insight for further information and best practice, including segmentation and stakeholder mapping.
Evaluation was our third and final discussion topic, providing a neat loop back to objective setting. Looking through the GCS Internal Communications evaluation guide on the types of inputs, outputs, outtakes and outcomes that can work for internal comms and the need for us to ensure our work strives to contribute to delivering organisational goals and KPIs. As for the real time feedback question (the senior management are asking to have feedback on any issue at any time) we concluded that perhaps recruiting a panel of respondents, to be called upon when needed, or using social media spaces for ad hoc polling were two potential solutions.

Best practice case studies and resources are freely available to comms practitioners. I mentioned the IC Space (of course); Chartered Institute of PR’s CIPR Inside group and the recent IC Award winners; the Chartered Institute of Marketing for internal communication campaigning; and the Institute of Internal Communications (IOIC). There are many active groups on LinkedIn worth a trawl through too. I’d also recommend Rachel Miller’s blog as worth a read, and her blog roll provides a comprehensive further reading list.

So in summary, yes internal communications has unique challenges, but the OASIS model works for internal communications campaigning.