The Gatehouse Blog

At Deloitte, a Distinctive Way to Communicate a Distinctive Audit

As audit internal communications manager at Deloitte, Andrew Ball was tasked with the launch of the ‘Distinctive Audit’ internally – Deloitte’s new core audit product.

Because it’s the Distinctive Audit, just from a communications perspective, I wanted the internal communications to feel distinctive. To feel different. So I used my communications champions as the key channel by which I distribute our ongoing newsletter on the Distinctive Audit.

People like reading about people, particularly people that they know. So as part of the newsletter, I interview a couple of our professionals, and draw out from them a simple story of how they delivered more value, more challenge, and greater insight to one of our clients. The newsletter puts all the latest updates and the new tools into one place. With such pressure on email, you don’t want loads of different emails going out across the practice.

Distinctive newsletter

I send the newsletter to between 20 and 25 people, and they cascade it to their local audience. Some of them will just forward it, which is fine. What I often find more effective is they will forward it, but at the same time as forwarding it, it gives them the opportunity to add that personal touch, that says, you know, “Hi guys, here’s the latest updates. If there’s anything you need, just get in contact with me,” or, “We’re going to be discussing this at our next group meeting on Monday.”

It’s that sort of localisation that I could never do centrally. There does have to be a very good reason for using this strategy because there’s a lot more work involved in doing such a cascade.

Firstly, you’ve got to follow-up. You’ve got to chase people a little bit. I mean, there’s just a bit less control. For me, working with my stakeholders makes it slightly more challenging. I’m accountable for what I do, because I’m using now a channel in which I don’t have the same element of control.

But I think this is the right approach. Because it’s the Distinctive Audit, and because it needed to be so embedded across the organisation, I felt that in this case, even though much of the content is the same, it’s still worth going down the localisation route to get it out to our 4,000 people.

I recognise that sending the newsletter for them is not as critical as servicing their client. So I give them a week to send it, and then I just follow up if I haven’t seen it within that week.

Writing style

When I communicate with my stakeholders, I use the ‘hook and bridge’ technique. I start the email with a story, then I ‘bridge’ into the content. That isn’t widely used within Deloitte as an organisation, so I was very careful to explain – the reason I’m doing this is because there’s a huge amount of pressure on our people’s time, but this is the most effective technique that I have come across to draw people in and take your audience with you.

The story I use to grab their attention is often from outside the organisation. It might be, for example a story Muhammed Ali’s star is on a wall of the Kodak Theater. Or Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, who was still fighting World War II alone.

I haven’t had any push back. You worry people will say: “That’s not the way we talk here”. But the danger is that you self-censor yourself too much. It’s something that as a communicator, you’re playing in your own head. But usually, people are allowed to talk like that – as long as what you’re delivering is clearly business-focused.

You have to recognise that consuming your content is discretionary for the reader. So bearing in mind that it’s discretionary, you’ve got to make it as easy as possible to consume and enjoy. I think good communicators have a certain level of empathy to help them do this.

BIOGRAPHY – ANDREW BALL

Andrew has extensive communications, research and editorial experience and has worked at Deloitte for over seven years. aball@deloitte.co.uk