13 Internal Comms Strategies To Prevent The Spread Of Misinformation

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With a poorly organized system of communication, misinformation can spread easily and rapidly, leading to confusion, errors and misunderstandings. The poor outcomes that result can impact not only morale and performance, but also the bottom line.

From creating a centralized communication hub where all information is stored and updated in real-time to prioritizing internal messaging regarding sensitive company news, comms teams can employ various strategies to ensure every team member gains clarity on important matters. Below, the members of Forbes Communications Council share tips to help companies mitigate the risk of gossip, rumors and other forms of misinformation impacting their operations.

Members pictured from left to right.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Create A Messaging ‘Bible’

Communicating the same messaging at regular frequencies across all levels of a company’s leadership is a surefire way to halt misinformation in its tracks. To support this, communications teams should have a messaging “bible” that spans internal and external messages. These messages should be reiterated regularly by all levels of leadership to align the overall team and prevent misinformation. - Sarah Hanel, OneSpan

2. Make Sure Internal Comms Are Well-Planned

Who is handling the communication? If multiple people are, what are the talking points so that the same message is disseminated? Where will the message be communicated? If it’s in a meeting format, record it for those who miss it, and follow up with a summary for all. If it’s written, which channel(s) do people refer to most? The issue with internal communication is often that it’s not well-planned. - Brooke Duffy, Captario AB

3. Communicate Consistently And Transparently

The best strategy is consistent communication. Content that is consistent and easily digestible, yet informative, helps employees comprehend information effectively. Companies should also be transparent, sharing as much information as possible in order to help employees feel “in the know.” - Layla Kasha, Grocery Outlet

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4. Disseminate Messages Across Multiple Channels

People digest information in different ways—some like email, some prefer live webcasts and others work best with Teams or Slack channels. Disseminate your messaging across all key platforms to widen your net and benefit from repetition when highly engaged employees digest the information from across all channels and help reinforce that verbally within their peer networks. - Rosie Guest, Apex Group Ltd.

5. Share Sensitive News Internally First

Comms teams should ensure there is a good alignment with external channels to make sure sensitive news is not shared on social media or by the press before employees hear about it on internal channels. Internal communications should always come first! So make sure your internal channels landscape and comms platform are up to the task of instantly reaching all employees with important updates. - Frank Wolf, Staffbase

6. Use Cross-Team OKRs

Treat internal communications just as you would any regular marketing campaign by utilizing all the available channels you have. Some teams are less likely to read emails but will gladly open messages on the company’s messaging app. Some will only engage with direct communication from the management. Even cross-team objectives and key results can be used as a way to ensure reliable communication between different teams. - Toma Sabaliauskiene, Nord Security

7. Hold Regular Team Meetings

As teams grow, it can become more difficult to communicate with each person regularly. Make sure you take the time to hold regular meetings with your second-in-command, listen to all employee feedback, and ensure that it’s heard and changes are made. Most importantly, prioritize sharing high-level company updates to ensure transparency across the entire organization. - Monica Ho, SOCi

8. Communicate Proactively, Not Reactively

One of the best ways to ensure accurate and timely communications is to communicate proactively rather than reactively. This means anticipating potential issues and addressing them before they become problems and keeping all relevant parties informed of progress and any changes. - Ryan Becnel, Energea

9. Anticipate Misinformation As Part Of The Narrative

The comms team should anticipate any misinformation that might arise from the communication and address it as a part of the narrative. The concept of “anti-stories” in storytelling is used for this purpose. Anti-stories typically start with something like, “Some of you might think,” or, “If you are wondering,” and can be included in an email, leadership video or whichever medium the communication is shared through. - Mahesh Bellie, Indium Software

10. Reiterate Key Points In Companywide Meetings

Repetition is a critical component when distributing important information. Using a variety of channels is a good way to ensure that everyone is hearing the same message, since some people prefer email and others prefer Slack or other messaging platforms. Reiterating key points in companywide meetings allows for questions to be asked in a public forum to prevent the spread of inaccurate news. - Michelle Yoshinaka, Sound Agriculture

11. Create A Two-Day, Internal-News Rollout Plan

Create a two-day, internal-news rollout plan, including a tiered approach, with less than two hours between touch points. For example, share sensitive news with leadership the day before. The next morning, leadership alerts managers, who then alert their teams within two hours. Comms then sends out an all-company notice by midday, ensuring stakeholders feel considered and minimizing leaks to the media. - Zakiya Larry, Quest Media Training

12. Address Teams’ Questions Directly To Dispel Rumors

Put together FAQs with feedback from every team. If there’s an issue you’re reporting about, know the narratives or rumors circulating and address them directly in your internal communication to the company. This way, you’re not only sharing information but specifically combatting any confusing “telephone” stories that may have emerged. - Melissa Kandel, little word studio

13. Establish A Comms Policy For Internal Channels

We often think of corporate communications policies as a risk mitigator for external representation, but it can be so much more than that. Establish or amend your policy to include your internal channels, and work with HR to ensure the policy is part of employee training. A component of the policy could be as simple as using a Slack channel where only authorized team members can publish for official internal announcements. - Nicole Zheng, Pontera

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