“Content is king” was quite the catch phrase over the last few decades, indeed, throughout the whole of the Internet era.  


But as the key to royalty is rarity, the proliferation of content has ultimately been its undoing as the royal resident of the communication throne.


Nowhere is this more true than in organizations – where complaints like “information overload” and “noise” reflect the unwelcome and never-ending flood of messages that clog inboxes and consume and waste inordinate time being scanned through by their recipients.


But if content is no longer king, what is rising to take its place?


Distribution – the ability to manage the flow of communication to each recipient.


Over the last ten years, there have been massive breakthroughs in the ability of organizations to target messages to the right employees with pinpoint accuracy.  


They can be accessed either through integrated modern intranet solutions like Haiilo that have built-in list management, multi-channel and employee-to-employee communication features, or, through more specific technology like which can deliver short-form video and audio messages to specific employees, existing subgroups or custom audiences.


While many organizations have resisted the embrace of modern internal communication tools because of perceived IT complexity or concern about proliferation tools, we’re now at a point where the cost entailed in forcing employees to filter through hundreds of emails daily, when compared holistically and honestly.


According to the Wall Street Journal, white collar workers are spending nearly two full days of their work week reading, responding to and processing email.  


While much of this email flow is employee-specific and actionable, corporate stakeholders often insist on “informing all stakeholders” and ticking that box, adding substantially to that deluge of text that adds to the backup at the inbox.


So what can a distribution mindset do for you?


* Give you a wedge for challenging all-employee messaging requests


Most stakeholders don’t have any idea of what the alternatives to all-employee messages can be deployed, and could be willing to consider more targeted options.  Even the most committed box-tickers in a Program Management Office find themselves on the receiving end of tons of irrelevant messages and could be persuaded to consider alternatives.


* Enable you to identify and target internal influencers and experts


Once an organization is willing to embrace the more targeted delivery of messages, you then have the freedom to build your own distribution lists. One of the most valuable lists you can have is a list of the key internal influencers who drive word-of-mouth in your organization.  If you can get your organization to allow you to – or even invest in – influencer identification, you can then drive richer flows of information to those who are interested and who need the information, and then support those people in sharing out the relevant bits to the people they work with.


Social intranet solutions like Haiilo allow communication to additionally flow on an operational level (departments, business units, locations) and provide a platform for influencers to share company-wide information with their peers.


* Help you devolve and structure team and project communication more effectively


With smaller, more targeted distribution lists – especially when combined with knowledge of the company’s influencers – it then becomes possible for projects and initiatives to communicate in a more self-sufficient and targeted way, without adding irrelevance to those who aren’t directly or peripherally involved.  


Such lists aren’t just useful for text-based messaging. With the help of Soundbite, they can also allow short video and audio messages to be shared by team members and allow for livelier and more accelerated conversations within the group as well.


* Focus on what people are supposed to do and to know


Ultimately, the value of internal communication is based on the extent to which employees are enabled to do what they need to do to contribute to the success of the work they are hired for, and whether they are reassured enough about those things that they don’t need to occupy their time being concerned about. 


For example, a Haiilo intranet allows the combination of targeted top-down content and a bottom-up subscription model, making sure employees get the most personalized communications experience possible.  


By focusing on distribution and its power to segment employees, you are in a much better position to give people who need instruction to do things the information they need, while giving less dense and more reassuring messages to those who aren’t directly involved.


* Create coherence for improved digital experience


UK-based internal comms expert Janet Hitchen adds that “better targeting of communication can also make the use of the range of digital tools at the workplace more seamless by demonstrating what specific uses they have for specific groups of employees instead of subjecting them into one-size-fits-all onboardings and follow-up communications.


In closing


In a time where information overload and complaints about irrelevance and noise are ever-increasing, the secret isn’t about broadcasting more and more content.  The key is to focus on the content that’s relevant, and building or acquiring the distribution capabilities to make that content stick with the people who need it. That’s why distribution is the new “King.”


Can I help?

If you want to sharpen your distribution and targeting skills – or find the right internal communication tools to help you take them to a new level, don’t hesitate to reach out.  Sign up for a free half-hour strategy discussion here.

Mike Klein

Mike Klein is Principal of Changing The Terms, a consultancy focused on internal, change and social communication. Mike has worked with organizations in the US and Europe for more than 20 years on pressing strategic communication challenges, and is a prolific writer and commentator on communication strategy topics. Mike is also the Founder of #WeLeadComms, an initiative to drive open recognition and in the communication profession. He holds an MBA from London Business School, and is a former US political consultant.




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