At our recent Client Forums, several companies expressed a desire to improve the way they promote their service to employees and other end users.

An area that stimulated plenty of discussion was how best to engage people working in a wide range of settings or locations.

Here, we’ve listed some of the ideas and observations put forward by clients spanning multiple industries (including manufacturing, engineering, fashion, financial services, retail and construction), along with some of our own contributions.

We hope you find them useful as you begin planning the launch – or relaunch – of your own speak up service.

Choose the right communication medium

Is your service promoted in a medium that is most likely to engage your users?

Many companies produce physical items (posters, letters, etc.), publish information through internal online channels (company intranet) and use group presentations to promote their service. This might work for a proportion of your audience – but does it work for everybody?

One engineering client uses its daily site briefings to promote the speak up programme to its construction workers. Because a large number of employees at its international sites are unable to read, this ensures they receive the speak up message regularly in a way that’s suitable for them.

Location, location, location

The location of your promotional material is critical to the successful promotion of your service.

For instance, posters are a great way to put your message in front of a large audience, particularly in places with a high footfall. But while placing them in shared spaces, like staff rooms, can be great for visibility, it can discourage engagement.

staff washroom

To combat this, one client told us that they place some of their posters on the inside of washroom cubicle doors. In addition to being seen by many people, this location allows employees to fully engage with the message and take down details, away from the watchful gaze of others.

Another Expolink client uses dashboard stickers in its vehicle fleet to promote the service to employees who spend the majority of their time on the road. This is far more effective than other site-based communication channels, which its drivers will rarely see.

Create opportunities for discussion

No matter how effective your promotional approach is, it’s likely that some of your audience will have questions about your speak up programme. It’s also likely that this uncertainty will prevent some people from speaking up.

Giving people the chance to ask questions should therefore be an important part of your promotional activity.

One of our clients explained how its governance team meets with smaller groups of employees (5-10 people) to explain how the speak up process works. This intimate environment is more engaging than a group presentation and gives employees the chance to ask questions, building greater understanding and trust.

Give speaking up a friendly face

A common issue faced by companies is how to make speaking up feel relevant and tailored to its local audience. Using imagery or language that is unfamiliar or unrecognisable is a surefire way to disengage your audience.

A client form the engineering sector combats this by creating short promotional videos for its major locations worldwide, each of which features a well-recognised local colleague talking about the speak up service. This provides reassurance and shows the service is relevant to their place of work.

Meanwhile a manufacturing client operating in more than 40 countries has created a range of gender/race non-specific characters for use its speak up promotional material. This avoids the issues that can be caused by using generic photography and imagery that feels relevant in some locations, but not in others.

Prevent message ‘blindness’

Message blindness describes situations where promotional material no longer stands out or becomes lost among other messages.

This is usually caused by a failure to rotate or refresh promotional materials, like posters, on a regular basis.

Updating your promotional materials at least every six months can help engage new employees and re-engage existing ones. This could be as simple as rotating two variants of a poster at six month intervals, or presenting them in new locations or contexts.

Combining regular updates with a range of relevant promotional tactics (eg. print, online, video, etc.) will have the strongest impact and sustain awareness.

Involve your users

One of the most effective ways to bring your programme to life is to involve your end users in promoting it.


A client from the banking sector has encouraged employees to film themselves on their mobile phone talking about what speaking up and business ethics means to them. These have then been shared on the staff intranet to help prompt discussion and build awareness.

Similar initiatives that put ‘real people’ at the centre of your awareness campaign will all employees feel more involved and connected with your programme.

Test, analyse and refine

Even companies that do all of the above can forget one vital area – measuring impact.

When promoting your service, test as many approaches as you can but remember to analyse results. Simply measuring the volume of reports received is unlikely to provide the insight you’re looking for, so try to make use of other sources – such as employee surveys or straw polls at staff briefings – to track awareness and engagement levels.

Continue to refine your approach over time to ensure your promotional activity has maximum impact.