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Publishing and communications management 

office workers in a meeting

Publishing and communications management 

In our latest Intranets and Employee Experience Platforms report we evaluated leading digital products against eight scenarios. The second of these real-world business scenarios is ‘publishing and communications management’. 

What we explored

Internal communicators will often rely on these platforms to reach their colleagues, so we wanted to see what tools were available to help them create and manage the flow of news to appropriate audiences. This included different news types, crisis communications, and ways of reaching people beyond the given platform. In this scenario we explored: 

  • What tools were available to build appealing and effective content 
  • How content could be dynamically and flexibly targeted 
  • What tools were available to manage the quality of content 
  • How infrequent publishers were supported 
  • Ways that messages could be published in one place but reach audiences wherever they may be. 

Note that we don’t dictate a long list of specific features, but instead consider common employee needs. We then ask the vendors to demonstrate how they would address the scenario in whatever way they see as the best approach.   

What we found

We’ve seen an evolution of intranet and employee experience platforms over the past couple of years, where many vendors have focused on internal communications teams as core product owners or stakeholders. While internal comms has been important for a long time, we’ve seen a shift in the functionality on offer so that these platforms are addressing internal comms needs and challenges head-on. Given the importance of these platforms in organisations, we think this is sensible. 

Haiilo added the first ChatGPT integration we saw and we think it’s still excellent. 

Joining the mix for the first time in this scenario are generative AI features in around half of the products we’ve reviewed. Most provide a natural language prompt approach to generating copy and / or AI-driven editing tools, like amending tone and length. Some have specific content checkers, such as Interact’s ‘accessibility checker’, alongside broader creation tools. Sociabble has among the most advanced generative AI tools we’ve seen, where company and an individual’s context are applied by the AI to whatever it generates. This is still a fast-evolving area and we’re looking forward to seeing how it develops. Please see the ‘AI Trends’ section of the report introduction for more on AI. 

Another area of this scenario that stands out is news flow management, such as through a calendar or Kanban board or something similar. This is still an area that’s hit-and-miss, with a lot of products relying on simple publication dates which we think is a shame. A few offer AI-driven news delivery, like Firstup’s Orchestration Engine that’s been around for a number of years, and a handful of others have calendars etc. We think internal communicators will increasingly want news management features as additional channels are added (see below) and we hope to see this area expand across products. 

In Interact it’s easy for publishers to ‘promote’ a page into a variety of channels

Finally, we want to highlight the inconsistencies around multi-channel approaches in this scenario. Internal comms folk will likely have to manage multiple comms channels and having a tool that will allow them to create once then share in many places is incredibly valuable. We expect to see a good range of additional channels in this scenario, but it’s not unusual for platforms to only work with one or two. Staffbase does this well, with an inbuilt newsletter tool, digital signage facilitation, and the ability to share into SharePoint and MS Teams just a few examples from the range. There are some unusual channels and approaches too, like Workvivo that has great livestreaming features, and LumApps that includes a strong native video management feature. Where vendors are focusing on internal comms teams, as mentioned above, then they will need to address multi-channel needs. 

How SharePoint and Viva fared in this scenario 

It is easy with SharePoint to create a news story page, and straightforward to add images, videos and even charts. News can be rolled up from other sites and targeted to show only stories tagged with metadata topics. Audience targeting is completed via Entra ID (formerly Active Directory), which is likely to need the support from IT. Currently, news can be scheduled to publish on a pre-set date, but there is no site-wide way to plan or monitor this.  

There’s no ‘alert’ feature or ability to push out a notification, although many companies get around this with a suitably styled web part or by sending out emails from SharePoint. For cross-channel publishing, the Viva Amplify module introduced a campaigns capability. News can be created as a series of ‘broadcasts’ around a campaign and then pushed out to specific M365 channels such as SharePoint, Outlook and Engage (Teams is on the roadmap). 

Overall platform performance   

Here are the scores for this scenario: 

‘+’ Denotes, optional extra – Features that may be added at extra cost and / or effort.

ProductUser Experience & Visual Appeal
Appspace Intranet
Involv Intranet
LiveTiles Intranet
Oak Engage
Powell Intranet
SP Online & Viva
Staffbase Intranet

Download our free report now to read more about this scenario, find out each product’s strengths and where there are improvements to be made across eight scenarios.  

Suzie Robinson

I've always worked with intranets, and have practical experience with all aspects of intranet management, including research, implementation, governance, and strategy. My roots are in internal communication and I focus on employee experience and engagement.

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