The PR BlogPublic RelationsInternal CommunicationsThe Intranet: The Unsung Hero Amongst PR Channels

The Intranet: The Unsung Hero Amongst PR Channels

The central nervous system of an organisation.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

The intranet is the unsung hero amongst PR channels.

In digit­al PR, where flashy social media plat­forms and soph­ist­ic­ated extern­al com­mu­nic­a­tion tools often steal the spot­light, the humble intranet remains an essen­tial organ­isa­tion­al platform. 

In oth­er words: The intranet is the organisation’s cent­ral nervous system.

Here we go:

The 3‑by‑3 Intranet Model

The 3 Pillars of an Intranet - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog.
The 3 pil­lars of an intranet.
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

The 3‑by‑3 Intranet Model

The 3 Intranet Pillars

When eval­u­at­ing or set­ting up an intranet, it’s cru­cial to focus on its core functionalities: 

  • Messaging. Messaging is the core com­mu­nic­a­tion func­tion of an intranet, encom­passing all forms of digit­al mes­saging, includ­ing emails, instant mes­saging, and chat rooms. It’s the primary tool for day-to-day com­mu­nic­a­tion with­in the organisation.
  • Meeting. This aspect of the intranet involves schedul­ing, man­aging, and facil­it­at­ing meet­ings with­in the organ­isa­tion. It includes cal­en­dar man­age­ment, video con­fer­en­cing tools, and resources for vir­tu­al collaboration.
  • Filing. Filing refers to stor­ing, organ­ising, and retriev­ing doc­u­ments and oth­er digit­al assets on the intranet. This includes doc­u­ment man­age­ment sys­tems, digit­al lib­rar­ies, and databases

This tri­ad forms the back­bone of any effect­ive intranet, cater­ing to the most fun­da­ment­al needs of an organ­iz­a­tion. Each of these com­pon­ents plays a vital role in the func­tion­al­ity and effect­ive­ness of an intranet. When well-executed, they work togeth­er seam­lessly to sup­port the organ­isa­tion’s com­mu­nic­a­tion, col­lab­or­a­tion, and inform­a­tion man­age­ment needs.

The Three Dimensions of an Intranet - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog.
The 3 dimen­sions of an intranet.

The 3 Intranet Dimensions

In the con­text of an intranet, com­mu­nic­a­tion typ­ic­ally occurs in three primary dimen­sions: top-down, bot­tom-up, and horizontal. 

  • Top-down. This dimen­sion refers to the flow of inform­a­tion from the high­er levels of the organ­isa­tion’s hier­archy to the lower levels. It typ­ic­ally includes offi­cial announce­ments, policy changes, organ­isa­tion­al updates, and stra­tegic directions.
  • Bottom-up. This is the upward flow of inform­a­tion from lower-level employ­ees to the man­age­ment and lead­er­ship teams. It encom­passes feed­back, sug­ges­tions, con­cerns, and insights from the staff.
  • Horizontal. This type of com­mu­nic­a­tion occurs among employ­ees at the same level with­in the organ­isa­tion­al hier­archy. It involves exchan­ging inform­a­tion, col­lab­or­at­ing, and shar­ing know­ledge among peers.

By effect­ively lever­aging these three dimen­sions of com­mu­nic­a­tion, an intranet can become a power­ful tool for enhan­cing trans­par­ency, col­lab­or­a­tion, and over­all organ­isa­tion­al effi­ciency. Each dimen­sion com­ple­ments the oth­ers, cre­at­ing a com­pre­hens­ive com­mu­nic­a­tion eco­sys­tem that bene­fits the entire organisation.

Learn more: The Intranet: The Unsung Hero Amongst PR Channels

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Why the Intranet Matters

The intranet extends far bey­ond just a repos­it­ory of doc­u­ments or a cor­por­ate bul­let­in board. Intranets are often essen­tial in fos­ter­ing organ­isa­tion­al learn­ing, enhan­cing social net­work­ing, and facil­it­at­ing seam­less intern­al communication.

Intranets as know­ledge man­age­ment tools with­in organ­iz­a­tions can enhance organ­iz­a­tion­al learn­ing by fos­ter­ing social net­work­ing and facil­it­at­ing com­mu­nic­a­tion among employ­ees.”
Source: Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management 1Boersma, F., & Kingma, S. (2011). Organizational Learning Facilitation with Intranet (2.0): A Socio-Cultural Approach. Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management, … Continue read­ing

A well-struc­tured intranet can stream­line pro­cesses, encour­age col­lab­or­a­tion, and pro­mote a shared sense of pur­pose. It acts as the cent­ral nervous sys­tem of an organ­iz­a­tion, effi­ciently con­nect­ing vari­ous parts to func­tion as a cohes­ive whole.

The intranet is an indis­pens­able tool in the intern­al digit­al arsen­al of organ­iz­a­tions. Its poten­tial to facil­it­ate com­mu­nic­a­tion, stream­line pro­cesses, and foster a col­lab­or­at­ive envir­on­ment is immense. As we nav­ig­ate the com­plex­it­ies of the digit­al work­place, let’s not over­look the intranet — the unsung hero that keeps our organ­iz­a­tions con­nec­ted and func­tion­ing effectively.

The 3 Pillars of an Intranet

Pillar 1: Messaging

Messaging is the core com­mu­nic­a­tion func­tion of an intranet, encom­passing all forms of digit­al mes­saging, includ­ing emails, instant mes­saging, and chat rooms. It’s the primary tool for day-to-day com­mu­nic­a­tion with­in the organisation.

The mes­saging func­tion ensures quick, effect­ive, and effi­cient com­mu­nic­a­tion among employ­ees. It allows for imme­di­ate inform­a­tion shar­ing and feed­back, ensur­ing every­one stays con­nec­ted and informed.

Messaging can be imple­men­ted through integ­rated email sys­tems, chat applic­a­tions, and instant mes­saging tools. These plat­forms should sup­port one-on-one con­ver­sa­tions, group dis­cus­sions, and broad­cast mes­sages. Ideally, they should be eas­ily access­ible, secure, and cap­able of hand­ling vari­ous media types (text, images, videos).

Pillar 2: Meetings

The intranet’s meet­ing func­tion­al­ity involves schedul­ing, man­aging, and facil­it­at­ing meet­ings with­in the organ­isa­tion. It includes cal­en­dar man­age­ment, video con­fer­en­cing tools, and resources for vir­tu­al collaboration.

The meet­ings com­pon­ent is designed to stream­line the pro­cess of organ­ising and con­duct­ing meet­ings, thereby improv­ing col­lab­or­a­tion and decision-mak­ing. It ensures that meet­ings are pro­duct­ive and that rel­ev­ant resources are read­ily accessible.

Effective imple­ment­a­tion includes integ­rated cal­en­dars for schedul­ing, fea­tures for send­ing meet­ing invites and remind­ers, and tools for vir­tu­al meet­ings such as video con­fer­en­cing. It may also provide access to shared doc­u­ments and col­lab­or­at­ive work­spaces where meet­ing agen­das, minutes, and fol­low-up actions can be stored and accessed.

Pillar 3: Filing

Filing refers to stor­ing, organ­ising, and retriev­ing doc­u­ments and oth­er digit­al assets on the intranet. This includes doc­u­ment man­age­ment sys­tems, digit­al lib­rar­ies, and databases.

The fil­ing sys­tem is essen­tial for man­aging an organ­isa­tion’s vast amount of inform­a­tion. It enables employ­ees to effi­ciently store, loc­ate, and col­lab­or­ate on doc­u­ments, ensur­ing that import­ant inform­a­tion is secure yet access­ible when needed.

A well-organ­ised fil­ing sys­tem on an intranet includes fea­tures for doc­u­ment upload and down­load, ver­sion con­trol, access per­mis­sions, and search func­tion­al­ity. It should sup­port vari­ous file formats and provide a logic­al, user-friendly struc­ture for organ­ising doc­u­ments into folders and categories.

The 3 Dimensions of an Intranet

Dimension 1: Top-Down Communication

This dimen­sion refers to the flow of inform­a­tion from the high­er levels of the organ­isa­tion’s hier­archy to the lower levels. It typ­ic­ally includes offi­cial announce­ments, policy changes, organ­isa­tion­al updates, and stra­tegic directions.

The main aim is to inform all employ­ees about the com­pany’s goals, achieve­ments, and changes. It ensures that every­one is aligned with the organ­isa­tion’s vis­ion and objectives.

On an intranet, top-down com­mu­nic­a­tion is facil­it­ated through offi­cial news chan­nels, broad­cast emails, lead­er­ship blogs, and ded­ic­ated sec­tions for cor­por­ate announce­ments. It’s import­ant that this con­tent is eas­ily access­ible and prom­in­ently displayed.

Dimension 2: Bottom-Up Communication

This is the upward flow of inform­a­tion from lower-level employ­ees to the man­age­ment and lead­er­ship teams. It encom­passes feed­back, sug­ges­tions, con­cerns, and insights from the staff.

Bottom-up com­mu­nic­a­tion is cru­cial for fos­ter­ing a sense of inclu­sion and empower­ment among employ­ees. It allows the man­age­ment to gath­er ground-level insights and address issues that may not be vis­ible at the top.

Tools such as sur­veys, feed­back forms, and for­ums on the intranet enable bot­tom-up com­mu­nic­a­tion. Encouraging employ­ees to share their ideas and feed­back through these chan­nels can lead to a more engaged and pro­duct­ive workforce.

Dimension 3: Horizontal Communication

This type of com­mu­nic­a­tion occurs among employ­ees at the same level with­in the organ­isa­tion­al hier­archy. It involves exchan­ging inform­a­tion, col­lab­or­at­ing, and shar­ing know­ledge among peers.

Horizontal com­mu­nic­a­tion is key to break­ing down silos, fos­ter­ing team­work, and encour­aging cross-depart­ment­al col­lab­or­a­tion. It facil­it­ates know­ledge-shar­ing and prob­lem-solv­ing among employ­ees who may not inter­act fre­quently in their reg­u­lar work routines.

The intranet can sup­port hori­zont­al com­mu­nic­a­tion through social net­work­ing fea­tures, team col­lab­or­a­tion spaces, shared doc­u­ment lib­rar­ies, and intern­al chat sys­tems. These tools help cre­ate a more con­nec­ted and col­lab­or­at­ive work environment.

Intranet Best Practices

Here are 10 best prac­tice tips on how to max­im­ize the effect­ive­ness of your intranet for cor­por­ate and/​or intern­al communications:

  • User-friendly design (UIX). Ensure your intranet is intu­it­ive and easy to nav­ig­ate. A user-friendly design encour­ages more fre­quent and effi­cient use by employees.
  • Regular con­tent updates. Keep the intranet con­tent fresh and rel­ev­ant. Regular updates ensure that employ­ees see the intranet as a reli­able source of cur­rent information.
  • Tailored con­tent. Customise con­tent to meet the diverse needs of dif­fer­ent depart­ments or teams. Personalized inform­a­tion makes the intranet more rel­ev­ant and use­ful to each employee.
  • Encourage col­lab­or­a­tion. Use the intranet to foster col­lab­or­a­tion by integ­rat­ing tools that allow for shar­ing ideas, work­ing on doc­u­ments togeth­er, and provid­ing feedback.
  • Interactive fea­tures. Implement inter­act­ive fea­tures like for­ums, polls, and sur­veys. These encour­age employ­ee par­ti­cip­a­tion and can provide valu­able feedback.
  • Mobile (hybrid) access­ib­il­ity. Ensure the intranet is access­ible on vari­ous devices, espe­cially mobile phones, to keep employ­ees con­nec­ted even when away from their reg­u­lar stations.
  • Integrate social fea­tures. Incorporate social net­work­ing fea­tures to build com­munity, enhance employ­ee engage­ment, and encour­age inform­al know­ledge sharing.
  • Training and sup­port. Provide train­ing to employ­ees on how to effect­ively use the intranet. Continuous sup­port should also be avail­able to address any tech­nic­al issues.
  • Highlight suc­cess stor­ies. Regularly share suc­cess stor­ies or case stud­ies that demon­strate the effect­ive use of the intranet. This can motiv­ate employ­ees to engage more deeply with the platform.
  • Regular feed­back and adapt­a­tion. Continuously col­lect user feed­back and adapt the intranet accord­ingly. An intranet that evolves based on user feed­back will likely stay rel­ev­ant and useful.

Implementing these best prac­tices can sig­ni­fic­antly enhance the intranet’s role in intern­al com­mu­nic­a­tions, turn­ing it into a dynam­ic, enga­ging, and indis­pens­able resource with­in your organization.

Beware the Law of Diminishing Returns

While it’s tempt­ing to keep adding fea­tures to an intranet, it’s cru­cial to be wary of the law of dimin­ish­ing returns. The bene­fits of a more com­plex sys­tem must be weighed against the addi­tion­al costs and poten­tial for decreased user-friend­li­ness. The syn­ergy prom­ised by integ­rat­ing vari­ous com­pon­ents into a single sys­tem is often exag­ger­ated com­pared to the addi­tion­al cost and com­plex­ity involved.


Please sup­port my PR blog by shar­ing it with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: Pavlov’s Inbox

Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Pavlov’s Inbox

Most email pro­ductiv­ity sys­tems (e.g. Inbox Zero and sim­il­ar sys­tems) focus on struc­ture and effi­ciency. Such sys­tems run the risk of reward­ing unfa­vour­able sender behaviours.

  • If you allow, your inbox can eas­ily become oth­er people’s agenda for your time.

Pavlov’s Inbox is a sys­tem built around the psy­cho­lo­gic­al idea that your inbox prob­lems aren’t email prob­lems — they’re sender problems. 

Pavlov’s Inbox assumes that you can influ­ence the beha­viours of those send­ing you emails — via conditioning.

  • Reward favour­able email senders. Reward senders by reply­ing swiftly and doing as much work as possible.
  • Punish unfa­vour­able email senders. Punish senders by politely push­ing work back to where it came from.

The typ­ic­al res­ult of Pavel’s Inbox is that you quickly get more and more good emails from favour­able senders and few­er and few­er bad emails from unfa­vour­able senders.

  • The basic rule of beha­vi­our­al psy­cho­logy is that you get more of what you reinforce.

How To Reward Favourable Senders

  • Reply swiftly and thoughtfully.
  • Eliminate their work by put­ting in work yourself.
  • Include praise or oth­er pos­it­ive reinforcement.
  • Express an interest in their work.

How To Punish Unfavourable Senders

  • De-pri­or­it­ise their emails (let them wait).
  • Instead of doing work, push work back.
  • Ask them to qual­i­fy their requests.
  • Question the valid­ity of their reasoning.

Please note that the pun­ish­ing aspect should be executed in a socially viable man­ner (since being con­front­a­tion­al or aggress­ive as “pun­ish­ment” is likely det­ri­ment­al to your pro­fes­sion­al repu­ta­tion).

Learn more: Pavlov’s Inbox

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ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Boersma, F., & Kingma, S. (2011). Organizational Learning Facilitation with Intranet (2.0): A Socio-Cultural Approach. Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management, 1280 – 1289. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​4​0​1​8​/​978 – 1‑59904 – 931‑1.CH122
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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