There is a common regret among communicators when a message doesn't seem to penetrate the whole organisation. But is it ever realistic to get more than a handful of your population?
I ask this following a conversation the other day about which channels are most effective in organisations. The discussion started with the question about what was the best channel in a crisis.
I immediately thought back to something that happened to me in an in-house role I'd had a few years back. I'd started work at a new company on a monday - there had been a financial crisis the previous week and it had taken us until the following week to send out a message via email explaining what had happened. Ever since then I've preached that at the very least you need a mechanism for putting a message in everyone's hand.
But I now think that might be unrealistic.
Firstly, few organisations actually have a reliable mechanism for pushing out a message. If there is email it may not be available to blue collar staff. If there is an intranet it might not connect on remote sites.
Then there is the simple truth that we only hear what we are motivated to listen to. And, rather inconveniently there are few issues that everyone in an organisation actually cares about.
I have also heard it said that we also have an massive capacity for ignoring things that are uncomfortable. We've all heard the stories of letters from the bank that never get opened.
So, what then is a reasonable penetration of a company-wide message?