The secret to writing intranet articles that employees love

Posted by Kath McNiff on Sep 26, 2018 11:11:44 AM



People are busier and more distracted than ever.

We live in a world where attention spans are 9 seconds long and 'content fatigue' is the new normal.

How do you entice time-poor employees to read (and act on) your carefully crafted intranet articles?

Here are 5 over-looked fundamentals that can make all the difference.

Know your audience

Maybe you've heard the adage:

"If you're marketing to everyone, you're marketing to no one"

Well, the same is true for that intranet article you're trying to write.

Start by asking yourself:

"Who am I writing this for?"

If your answer is "the employees in my company" -  then your canvas is too broad.

You need to zero-in on the employee segment you want to engage. What are their particular needs, passions or pain points?

For example, let's say you want to tell everyone about the new office that just opened in Japan.

You could create an intranet article titled 'New Office Opens in Japan' and then go on to describe when it opened, where it is and include information about what the expansion means for the business.

Nice enough.

But, as an employee, why should I click to see beyond the headline?

Sure, I'm happy we have a new office but unless I can see what impact it has on me or on others in my department - I'm not likely to be drawn in.

To encourage engagement, look at how you can deliver the content in a more personal way - by targeting specific employee personas. 

What's an employee persona? Glad you asked because here's a neat explainer video:



By understanding what motivates and inspires the different types of people in your organization - you have a better chance of engaging them.

Now, back to the Japanese office example.

Based on your new personalized approach, you could write an article targeted at the sales team:

Japan opens the door to new prospects

Or one that appeals to those in customer support:

What keeps our Japanese customers awake at night?

Think about ways to position your article to hit the sweet spot for a given persona.

To get started, you'll need to do a little research:

  • Check employee intranet profiles and make a list of job titles and interests.

  • Interview staff from different departments, cultures and age groups. You'll learn what kind of content resonates - you can also create great articles from the interviews themselves.

  • Conduct a staff survey asking people about their challenges, topics of interest and how they like to consume content.

Know your objective

Now that you know who you're writing for - it's time to think about what you want your article to achieve.

There are two main questions to ask:

  • Does it align with your Internal Communications strategy? If you have one, that is. According to a recent report44% of organizations don't.

  • Is your article addressing a business objective?

It's easy to fall into the trap of writing content for content's sake - but you should use your publishing power to make a difference.


While all organizations are unique, most are focused on one or more of the following:

  • Productivity

  • Profitability

  • Customer Service

  • Employee Engagement and Retention

  • Growth

  • Change Management

Does your article move the needle on any of these objectives?

Does it help employees to do their jobs more effectively? Does it make them feel connected to their peers or part of a vibrant culture?

Purposeful content that is clearly aligned with your company's mission is more likely to engage employees (and win the approval of senior management). 

Respect your reader's time

"I didn't get time to read that"

Sound familiar?

Lack of time is one of the major reasons your content goes unread.

With so much competition for their attention, employees often put internal communications on the back-burner.

Instead of lamenting this fact, look at ways you can lighten the cognitive load:

  • Make headlines clear and specific so that readers know what they're getting into - this free headline analyzer can help.

  • Have a point and get to it quickly - don't be that person who tells meandering, pointless stories that never seem to go anywhere.

  • Avoid slabs of text and use plenty of white space.

  • Break up the content with scannable headings, videos, images and pull-quotes. 

  • Drop the jargon and use every day conversational language.

  • Take time to proofread (typos not only reflect badly on your credibility but they break the reader's flow).

Be people-focused

We've already looked at ways to personalize content based on employee personas but actually writing about people is another sure-fire way to improve engagement.

Tell stories about individual employees and demonstrate their value to the business. This doesn't have to be 'heavy' content - you can ask employees to describe their morning routines, give their productivity tips or share favorite recipes.

Also, write articles that bring customers into focus - this helps employees to see why their work matters and goes a long way to fostering employee engagement. 

Use faces in your imagery - and, where possible, choose real people over stock photos. 

According to Sally Hogshead, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Fascinate

Faces are so key to our survival, in fact, that we're born to be fascinated by them.

Get the message out

So now you have a persona-driven, easily digested, people-focused article with a catchy headline and fascinating imagery. Well done!

The next step is making sure people know about it.

Take care to add the relevant keywords, meta-data and #hashtags so that your article can be pushed out to the appropriate channels or found via search.

When you share the article on your intranet's social network, be sure to @mention individuals who might find it particularly useful. 

Although you want to avoid broadcast email -  you might consider sending out a round-up of the month's best articles.

What engagement strategies have worked for you?

We'd love to hear about your successes in the comments below.

Topics: employee engagement, Internal Communications, intranet, company intranet, internal communications strategy

Centralizing Communications: Thou Shall Not Have Broadcast Email

Posted by Terri McKinnon on Jul 3, 2018 1:09:28 PM


Financial services organization VicSuper needed an internal communications strategy that was as dynamic and efficient as their 260 person team.

Led by the Learning & Organizational Development team, the company embarked on delivering a new company intranet with GreenOrbit (formerly Intranet DASHBOARD). The goal: To push information and knowledge away from email and into an open, centralized platform.

The organization’s preference for email communications was purely out of habit - as that’s the way it had been for so long. The company-wide reliance on email was taking its toll, making it time consuming and inefficient for working collaboratively. The only way to communicate company news was via an ‘all staff’ email, which failed to engage users and was easily lost amongst other content. They were suffering from serious email overkill.

When disparate systems kill the message

The restrictions email placed on information sharing were obvious to the team. A document would be created and then converted to PDF for emailing. It was too difficult to upload documents to the old intranet, and no one would share it on Yammer as they were two disparate environments. This disconnect fuelled the team’s case for a new intranet, and was identified as a key business challenge.

The vision for the new intranet was that it would be the place to access information, communicate, and collaborate. They were eager to move these activities away from email, and into a central platform where it would actually be read, understood, and engaged with.

It was important to have a system that could facilitate multi-dimensional communications, pushing different messages to audiences in different ways. Pushing collaboration away from email and into GreenOrbit meant, having a tool that allows several conversations concurrently through news posts, forums, pages and activity feeds – getting messages out at the right time to the right people.

After relying on email for so many years, the team knew it was difficult for people to change their habits - even if they wanted to. Some of the strategies used by VicSuper to drive user adoption included pushing the intranet to employees as the browser home page and committing to “No more blast emails”. In turn, they have found, people have taken to social functionality like ducks to water.

The centralized model

From the outset, the benefits of centralized communications began to unfold. The team had been rolling out a learning program called Activate - about activating their brand. Traditionally, they would have let the business know through an ‘all staff’ email - the same message, at the same time, with the same instructions.

The issue with this was that the course meant different things to different departments, and had different calls to action. Through their new company intranet, this information could be targeted to different groups in different ways. Users could then ask questions, offer advice, and share. Information immediately became more meaningful, impactful, and known. It was no longer buried away in people’s inboxes.

You can learn more about VicSuper’s intranet through their full case study.

To find out more about how GreenOrbit can get work going in your organization - check out the GreenOrbit Feature Checklist:


Feature Checklist



Topics: Internal Communications, Social Intranet, communication tools, new intranet, company intranet

10 Tips to a successful intranet project

Posted by Lesley Maea on Jan 18, 2018 3:42:03 PM


Is your intranet suffering from a little neglect? It may be in need of a little TLC or a complete revamp. Before you dive in, there are tried and true steps that can be taked to kick start, or reignite that intranet project.

Here are our top tips to help you get started:

1. Develop an intranet strategy, a plan, and KPIs

Plan where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there. Make sure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. By mapping out your plans, you will be able to ensure your intranet reflects and supports your wider business strategy. Communicate regularly with key contacts to analyze your progress, wins and losses. Remember that reviewing your progress is vital to see not only where you are heading – but also how far you have come.

2. Appoint a project owner/s

Building your intranet will require a project owner to ensure that tasks run to schedule. For ongoing management and development, a committee of intranet champions, representing various departments of the business will ensure that users’ needs are being met and help to ensure engagement by all areas of the business.

A group of 25 staff at FOX SPORTS got together to generate ideas and suggestions for their new intranet. Of this initial group, 5 team members continue to be involved in the project, taking ownership of managing and populating content moving forward.

3. Take a phased approach

We’ve all heard it before - Rome wasn’t built in a day. Implementing an intranet and asking employees to modify their habits is a big change. In fact, you might notice at first you lose some efficiency as employees adapt to new functionality or the new way of navigating your intranet, so it’s important to make small changes along the way to ensure that uptake can be regained quickly. Set clear goals about where you want to be after 3 months, 6 months, and so on, introducing new functionality as you progress.

4. Plan your document management

The beauty of storing policies, procedures, manuals and more within your intranet is that:

a) users know this is the definitive and up-to-date version of the file, and
b) they can access them easily, even from mobile devices. Plan where you will store particular documents and who will be responsible for maintaining them.

Then, you can take things to the next level by leveraging metadata. (think of it as the tabs for an online filing cabinet). Healthcare providers Benson Radiology  need to find documents for their patients and specialists, fast. By applying custom-metadata to files, they can categorize them for super-speedy search retrieval.

5. Create a positive user-experience

Let’s be honest, no one is going to use your intranet if it’s overcrowded, outdated or difficult to navigate. An intranet with a poor user-experience will cost users’ time, patience, and trust in their workplace. Ensure your Information Architecture is logical and conduct some user testing before going live.

6. Be open to feedback

An effective intranet is constantly developing to suit the needs of its users. Remember to ensure that staff from all departments have the opportunity to submit suggestions and have the intranet meet their needs. The easiest way to do this is to create an ‘Intranet Suggestions’ online form or a GreenOrbit #Channel. Either way, provide some guidelines as to what kind of feedback is appropriate, and how suggestions will be considered.

7. Test your search

Search is the glue that binds your intranet together. As discussed earlier, metadata, will allow for optimal enterprise search, so make sure you plan how you’re going to leverage it.

8. Encourage staff contributions

Nowadays, we see that many companies no longer follow a ‘top-down’ internal communications model. Instead, they want to encourage conversations and knowledge sharing from all corners of the business. Implementing Enterprise Social Network Functionality will empower a wealth of user-generated content, encouraging collaboration and team culture.

9. Stay up to date

If you want your employees to use the intranet every day, it must offer something they need every day. No matter how much effort you put into building an intranet, if you fail to maintain it, usership will drop.

Remember, your intranet is the ‘source of truth’ so all stored policies, procedures, templates etc. must be the most current versions. When files are updated, make sure you share this with colleagues. A simple way to connect people to content in GreenOrbit is to assign a #Hashtag to the file, or use @Mention to alert the relevant contacts.

10. Get creative!

Why shouldn’t people enjoy using the intranet? Get brainstorming and come up with some new ways to share content or engage users.

George Washington University post a monthly article to their intranet titled ‘Up Close & Personnel’ featuring an interview with a particular staff member. GWU Learning & Development Consultant Kadie Groh says, “It’s an opportunity to get to know people as people, which is really nice. We are big supporters of getting people to bring their personal selves to work- after all we do spend 40+ hours a week together.”

If this has inspired you, don’t forget that we are always here to help. Simply contact us.

Here’s to a collaborative 2018!

Want to know more about leveraging your intranet to get work going? Check out our eBook:

3 ways your intranet can be a launchpad for success



Topics: building an intranet, Internal Communications, INTRANET INSIGHT, intranet strategy, lesley, Document Management, team culture, implementing best practice intranet

Digital Collaboration at Ecorys

Posted by Annabelle Willis on Jul 25, 2017 3:09:44 PM


In the past, knowledge sharing wasn’t so hard. Think of having your team all in one office, all working from 9-5. But this isn’t the reality for businesses today. Workers are remote and on their devices, teams are dispersed and subsequently, time zones are mismatched. For many, having everyone in the one place at the one time just isn’t a reality.

In this environment, how can you share and find knowledge effectively? How can you leverage the expertise of Janet; the French speaking, excel whiz, HR manager? Or Doug; the analytical, mathematical, finance guy?

Once upon a time, you might have tried via email. And if you tried, you’ll know it does not work the way it did before information overloaded our inboxes. International research, consultancy and management services company; Ecorys, faced this same issue. Having consulted to The World Bank and Asian Development Bank (amongst many others), this team are seriously, well, knowledgeable. They knew there was so much they could learn from one another, but there was no easy way.

“Previously, you could be working on a project in Bangladesh, and there could be someone in another office with expertise. Normally, you’d never know. It was too annoying to send an email out to everyone in the company.” – Ecorys IT Manager

GreenOrbit #Channels are communities of interest, based on the topics that are meaningful to you and your staff. They provide a centralized, engaging system for communication and knowledge sharing. As opposed to email, employees turn to this content for information that is categorized and allows for group collaboration. As evidenced by Ecorys, conversations via #Channels results in multiplied knowledge and real business outcomes.

“Someone in the UK posted to a #Channel that their client needed to conduct an interview with a particular type of expert. Up until then, they could not find anyone and the project was in jeopardy. Once it was posted to #Channels, an expert in the Netherlands popped up by commenting on the post. So the reporters came to the Netherlands to carry out the interview. Normally we would have just lost the opportunity, but we made a profit.” – Ecorys IT Manager

And that’s just the beginning. Read the full Ecorys Case Study to learn more about digital collaboration and how it delivers business-wins.


Ecorys Case Study

Ecorys Case Study


Topics: clients, digital workplace, Internal Communications, intranet, intranet dashboard, Case Studies, Collaboration, CUSTOMERS

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