For an idea management program within a company to start well, and continue to flourish, a good communications strategy is needed. This needs to be focused on the most important element of an idea management program – employee engagement. If your employees don’t buy-in to the process from the beginning, or their enthusiasm diminishes, then the idea management program will not be as effective as it can be.
To get employees engaged with the process it is important that very senior, if not the CEO, publicly endorses the program. The initial communication needs to be very public, e.g., communicated at a company town hall meeting, and then ideally published within a company newsletter, magazine or email. A short video could also be made which can be placed on the Idea Management portal.
The initial communication should include the importance of ideas and their role in innovation, permission for employees to use the system during office hours, ideas of rewards being offered and that budget has been allocated for the funding of new initiatives generated from ideas.
The executive endorsement doesn’t end here as regular communication from senior leaders will maintain momentum and employee engagement.
It is helpful to give the idea management area a separate identity. Develop a brand and messages for your idea management activities that speak to the excitement of this initiative. Perhaps even think of wearing branded t-shirts during the launch period and even giving away a small memento.
Types of communication
Website: Create a specific branded idea management portal.
Blog and video: On your idea management website it will be useful to have regular communication in the form of a blog or video.
eMail: Email is still the channel with the highest ROI but it’s only a starting point for communication.
Events: This would include the launch of the program but also regular events – reward events for example.
Offline: Posters, flyers, postcards, business cards and other forms of traditional communication still definitely have their place.
Shortlist of best ideas
If you are selecting winners of best ideas then don’t wait until the very end to talk about the competition results; celebrate shortlisted ideas as well.
Participants will feel a sense of pride and will be far more likely to re-engage and have a positive experience.
It will also help to build excitement for the announcement of the actual winners.
It stands to reason that awards for the best ideas need to be celebrated and communicated throughout the company. An award event could be anything, from holding an evening event inviting the shortlisted nominees, to being announced at a company meeting.
Implemented ideas (big and small) are probably the most powerful part of a communications strategy. Talk about the ideas that are being implemented straight away using all the communication channels talked about earlier.
This is potentially the most effective way of finding new budget, or expanding the budget, for your idea management program. This can be revenue generated or saved and testimonials on the implemented idea.
Communication is fun
Communicating throughout the idea management process is crucial to the success of the program but each area of the communications strategy can be fun. Creative launch activities, interesting executive endorsement, idea success communication and the award events can all be very enjoyable not only for the idea management team but also add energy and engagement to staff throughout the company.