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How to run your internal communications like a newsroom

How we communicate with teams is changing dramatically — never have we talked, tweeted or texted more words than we do today.

  • Why it matters: It’s harder than ever to be heard. Most of us are drowning in information — but we’re still thirsty for knowledge.

“There’s a moment in the evolution of journalists when you finally get access to the analytics,” says Nick Johnston, Axios Publisher. “It is an apocalypse when you finally see what people click on and how much time they’re spending.”

The hard truth: ​​A lot of the stories, news — even workplace updates — we write never get read, even when they’re essential. They’re too long, or too boring, or too dense for readers to parse.

Axios started with a blank whiteboard:

  • What can we learn from decades of reader data?

  • Can we understand how people are consuming information today?

  • What kind of information do they want to consume and where are they consuming it?

Being forthright, clear, and concise will earn you the trust of a reader — it worked for our newsroom, and it makes our internal comms more engaging.

Nick’s quick-fire best practices:

  • 🏁 Where to start: “Use a two-sentence framing. Tell them what’s new, then why it matters. If you can answer those two questions, you pretty much hit the ground running, and the rest becomes a bonus.”

  • 🧑 How to stay human: “Write like you speak. It’s more effective. If you talked to someone and said two sentences, they wouldn’t think you were abrupt. That’s how conversations are — short and clear.”

  • ⚖️ Brevity vs. context: “Provide core elements, then give readers an option to go deeper with a link.”

  • 🚨 How to share hard news: “Don’t obfuscate. If you’re sending a memo about cuts to a program, make it the first sentence. Readers appreciate it and then read to the last sentence because you actually said” what you meant.

Go deeper: Watch more of Nick sharing comms strategies he honed in a newsroom.

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