Last week I chaired ALI‘s Internal Communications for Health Care conference in Philadelphia. There were a number of very interesting conversations had there, some of which I’ll discuss here in a few posts. While they involved health care communicators, the topics apply across all of internal communication. First, I want to share a dialogue about the changing concept of “news.”

News has changed dramatically

I challenged the attendees last week to reconsider how they think of internal news. Many talk about news as a collection of content to be disseminated. Many make reference to “newsletters.” These are often distributed on a set schedule, bi-weekly or weekly. Most such newsletters are now provided electronically; few still do print.

We must change our thinking about news

News has changed in the past 10 years. News now:

  • Is expected to be available when it becomes news, not days later
  • Must provide individuals control to consume what is relevant
  • Must be brief and scannable
  • May be valuable reference information, so readers must be able to find it again at a future date
  • Is both information and entertainment

Given this, why are so many organizations still talking about newsletters? Internal news must be delivered when it becomes news and be brief and scannable. Most importantly, readers must have the ability to control delivery and find articles again through keyword search and filtering. Date references are not enough with respect to this last requirement.

For an example of a proper technology solution – one specifically for SharePoint – see ElevatePoint News.

Creation and delivery of news also must change

The communication team has long been charged with creation and delivery of news inside organizations. Today, user-generated content has shifted the role of the communicator to one of curator. And yet, many organizations still control who can publish news. In last week’s conference, many of the communicators agreed with my assessment that it is difficult for some communicators to give up control over the words. We want them to meet dated standards of grammar and language.

We are at a crossroads not unlike the one where we had to let go of two spaces after each period. Only this one is more important; our choice could enable:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Innovation
  3. Success

Information is at the heart of all three and news is part of information sharing. Perfection is not required. As a result, communicators need to relax their grip and engage people across the organization in the sharing of news.

Talk about news differently

Where we take this from here largely depends on how professional communicators talk about news. If we talk about news differently, leaders will come along for the ride. It will take some time. It’s no different than getting our organizations to understand the difference between the intranet and the digital workplace. Change the dialogue, change perceptions, change decision-making.

At least it is a start. What are you doing to change the concept of news in your organization?