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Promoting Internal Compliance Communications

internal8The Internet-Age has certainly brought us all “closer” together. Sometimes I long for the old days of rotary telephones, four television channels, and vinyl record players. We never knew how good we had it in those days.

It is all too easy to send someone or everyone a message – tweets and posts are flying and everyone wants to be heard or read in one way or another. Life has become much more complex while at the same time becoming easier.

I always compare Chief Compliance Officers to public relations specialists. They have a message and they want the company-audience to listen. CCOs have to compete with other internal (and even external) speakers for attention from managers and employees. It is easy for managers and employees to ignore an email, avoid a training meeting or ignore a compliance message.

CCOs have to develop effective means to communicate to their audience. This is where technology comes in to provide some effective ways to reach an audience in a company.

Interestingly, senior managers, CCOs and others continue to rely on internal newsletters to reach employees. A regular ethics and compliance newsletter is one very effective tool for CCOs to use.

Some other traditional communications methods include: (1) town hall meetings; (2) internal compliance meetings; and (3) introductions at training sessions.internal2

Nowadays, CCOs rely on emails to communicate compliance messages but we are slowly learning that employees frequently delete unread emails on topics they find uninteresting. It is too easy to rely on emails as an innovative technique without really considering if employees are reading them. Many email systems do not have ways to capture statistics on whether employees read the emails, and if so, for how long (a basic return receipt never indicates how long the recipient devoted to reading the email unless it is deleted shortly after being sent).

Senior executives, including CCOs, need to use other non-traditional methods to communicate important ethics and compliance messages as well.

One new and exciting method is to maintain a compliance and ethics blog. CCOs can rely on blogs to communicate interesting compliance messages, events, and other compliance reminders. The key is to keep the content fresh and interesting.

internal5Some CCOs use innovative Question and Answer forums relying on live chat functions. Just like buying a product or service online with chat support, a CCO can hold a question and answer forum with a chat function as a way to quickly communicate responses to private questions and public discussions.

A compliance channel on You Tube or other video hosting service consisting of ethical vignettes, compliance messages and common ethical situations can be interesting. We live in a video generation that follows video images more than spoken words (a slight exaggeration) so why not apply the same technique in the compliance world?

Similarly, for those employees who are just too busy to sit down and watch a training session, or even attend a live training session, there are podcasts. Employees can download podcasts and listen to them at a later, more convenient time.

Whatever method is used, CCOs have to employ strategies designed to make their messages interesting and relevant for managers and employees. As a public relations specialist, CCOs have an important message and mission – it is up to them to get the word out inside a company.

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