A Peek Inside Internal Communications at Arment DietrichBy Clay Morgan

As we discuss internal communications, I thought some people might be interested in learning more about the systems we have in place at Arment Dietrich.

We are a small—and entirely virtual—company.

That means I can’t mosey up to Lindsay Bell’s desk and ask her for her TPS reports.

Let’s take a gander at what we use.

Internal Communications Tools

  1. iMessage. Probably the most-used tool in our internal communications arsenal is iMessage. We use it as an instant message program and it works great for our company, which is Mac-based. The nice thing is that the IMs go to the computer, the iPhone, and iPad. You never miss a message!
  2. Google Hangouts. Next up is our good friend Google Hangouts. We use this mostly for group meetings—our staff meetings, brainstorming sessions, and other meetings that might require three or more people’s involvement.
  3. Skype. Related is Skype. This is used mainly for one-on-one conversations and Lindsay kinda prefers the Skype IM mechanism over iMessage.
  4. Facebook. We also have a private Facebook page, Arment Dietrich Rules. Only for employees of the company, we share a lot of links, great content, some goofy stuff, and occasional brainstorming. A recent brainstorming session, focused on a new company position statement, generated about 90 comments from our group. It was great stuff and it is recorded there for anyone in the organization to review later.
  5. Asana. We use Asana for project management. But more importantly, it is used to help integrate calendars on project deadlines that affect the entire team.
  6. Phone. Of course, we occasional actually call people on the phone.
  7. Email. And naturally we use email.

But for internal communications, the platforms mentioned here constitute the bulk of our contact with one another.

Challenges and Importance

There is one challenge that we sometimes encounter: It is simply that sometimes it is easy to “lose” a piece of information.

When I say lose, I mean that you lose track of it—did it come across as a message? Is it in Asana? Email?

This is most evidenced by Laura Petrolino’s response to my frequent instant messages.

No, she does not say, “Why you are looking quite vice presidential today.” Rather, it is usually a variation of, “If you would refer to the email I sent you last week…”

Yes, sometimes I personally struggle to keep track of information flying at me across multiple platforms, but I adopt a “deal with it” mindset for one simple reason—it works for the team.

And that’s key.

When you are considering platforms and technology, price is no longer an issue. None of the systems we use cost us in any way in terms of ongoing expense.

At the same time, you have to be very aware of the needs of your employees and how they might use tools to communicate, and more importantly, how that communication furthers the goals of your clients and your business.

An Example

As Gini Dietrich posted on October 6, we’re in the middle of planning our 2015. As a part of that, we’re seeking new clients that are a right fit for our company.

That process is a bit more detailed than in previous years.

We’re preparing to launch a new Arment Dietrich website, we’re delving deeper into employing social media channels, such as the LinkedIn Showcase Pages, and we’re looking hard at what we do differently than anyone else.

Of course this included meetings on Google Hangouts. Those are great, but one of our best efforts occurred in our private Facebook page.

Gini posted something about positioning statements and our need to identify and succinctly state what makes us different from other communications firms.

This resulted in 90 comments, most of which were ideas and noodling with words and phrases, trying to find the right way to deliver our message.

We can’t do that in person because of the structure of our company, but Facebook made an excellent substitute.

The best part? Everyone’s contributions are recorded.

In subsequent communications on the same topic, which have included one-on-one discussions and emailed contributions, I have more than once referred back to that thread. It is all in a handy spot and I didn’t have to take pages upon pages of notes.

Internal Communications Platforms

When you are thinking about your own internal communications platforms, I recommend keeping a few things in mind:

  • How many people will be using the communication platform. Some, such as Google Hangouts, do have limitations.
  • Consider the team. Are they talkers? Are they texters?
  • How will you handle file transfers?
  • Do your staff meetings and brainstorm sessions require more of a presentation/webinar approach?
  • Do you need to record the sessions in some fashion?

Our structure is not perfect and I fully understand that the future, with growth, will very likely mean something else. We’ll have to change.

And that is my final point.

Regardless of what platforms you choose to facilitate internal communications, you must have the flexibility and willingness to change when the needs of the business call for it.