106 Communications

6th Sense

Employee magazines: should we have a bonfire of the vanities?

November 2019 | Internal Communications

Internal Comms has moved on from the days of the memo (piece of paper in a big brown envelope with lots of names on it, some ticked off).

But the company magazine is still alive and well, and on numerous coffee tables across the country.

There’s no doubt that there are some very good magazines out there – well crafted, well written.  But there are just as many, if not more, that seem to be a waste of recycled paper.

What’s the argument for producing an employee magazine?

Pride – colleagues do love to see stories of colleagues featured; and magazines have traditionally been great for that.

Remote or disparate workforces – we still hear of workforces spread out across locations who respond well to a magazine.

Behaviour – if you pick up a magazine, are you more likely to read it than just delete or ignore an email?

Technophobes – they may be a dying breed; but there are still some people who prefer a physical magazine to a digital one.

Of course, this argument is not holding up as much as it might have before.  Technophobes are scarce. Remote workers?  Is that simply because you’re not prepared to invest in decent smart phones and apps?  And behaviour?  Well, if the newspaper market is anything to go by, then most of us have got over the need for a physical copy.

The ‘pride’ argument is a good one.  But this is no reason to stick with a magazine.  Great storytelling programmes happen on all platforms now – and are less engineered and more natural.

So, in our view, the employee magazine is a vanity – and in particular, because the distance between the original conception and today’s vanilla offering is so vast.  When employee magazines launched, they were based on journalistic skills – with a strong features theme rather than the PR padding we have today.

So if we want to save employee magazines from the bonfire of the vanities, it’s time to return to the principles of great feature writing and design – not tabloid titbits.

Have a great Bonfire Night – whatever you decide to throw on the pyre!!

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