The ABC of employee magazines is not circulation, but commitment. Such magazines not only serve to inform employees, but also to give them a voice and a platform to exchange ideas with one another. That’s why it is also important to include employees in the production and let them have their say in the magazine, especially if they are spatially separated in individual branches.
With “meine bankpost [my bankpost]” magazine, Felix Winnands, Project Manager of Internal Communication and Events, sets out to strengthen the sense of community within the company, skillfully presenting the different branch locations in individual features – and preferably with videos.
PressMatrix: To start off can you briefly introduce us to the magazine “meine bankpost”?
Felix Winnands: “meine bankpost” is Postbank’s classic employee magazine. In principle we reach all Postbank employees via the print medium: from the head office through the administrative and back office units – e.g. account management – to IT. Above all – and this is essential – we reach each of the approximately 1000 branches in Germany and the approximately 600 consulting centres. The magazine is sent directly to each one.
PMX: That’s a pretty broad audience. What concept and strategy do you follow in order to appeal to everyone?
FW: The concept that we have defined can be summed up with a catchphrase, mittendrin – in the middle of it all. In other words, the employee is center stage and we try to tell stories concerning everyday business at the company. We closely follow the corporate strategy as well as the employees’ experiences. The magazine does not tell stories about how the banking industry is doing overall. Instead, we tell you what is happening at Postbank and what the next strategical steps for Postbank are.
In this, the diverse target audience is in fact somewhat problematic, since we don’t have a separate magazine for the management level. In each issue there must therefore be topics for everyone – from the board to the employee at the counter.
PMX: That sounds like quite a balancing act. Does it work in practice?
FW: Of course! (laughs) Since the relaunch of the magazine in 2016, we have been focusing more on the concept of being mittendrin and on employee stories. This has led to a greater acceptance of the magazine on all levels and also to a greater awareness of it. I think we manage to hit the right balance.
As an employee magazine, we are also competing with the many offers that the employee uses privately. So it’s important to stay on a par with other media and technical developments.
PMX: Was there a concrete reason for the relaunch of the magazine? And what changes came with this relaunch?
FW: In 2016 the “bankpost” became “meine bankpost” in order to emphasize our own brand. This was mainly due to internal developments. But the magazine itself has been around for 27 years now, in which time it has undergone an incredible transformation.
It has evolved from the first issues in newspaper format through various layout levels to the present-day magazine format, which I think is very much in keeping with the times.
PMX: How is the content of the magazine put together? Is there an independent editor or do the employees themselves write for the magazine?
FW: We have an editorial staff who write high quality journalistic articles and we work with photographers who provide authentic and professional photos.
At the same time, employees also have their say in the magazine. For example, if a topic has been suggested by a senior manager, we ask them or a member of their staff to make a comment for the article. Of course, we also make use of the entire journalistic pallet from employee and departmental portraits through interviews with members of the managing board and executives to project reports and best practice solutions – basically any theme that is relevant to Postbank is relevant to us.
Occasionally we also try out something off the beaten track and present a topic as a photo story, like a kind of “Bravo photo story”. We’ve observed from the reactions that people are sometimes briefly irritated, but ultimately there’s an increased awareness of the topic.
Employee magazines convince with individual layouts
Since 2016, it has also been available in-house in the PressMatrix app for all iOS and Android devices and in the browserclient.
PMX: If the topics are proposed directly by staff members, you must have an avid readership.
FW: It’s a two-way process. There are the topics that we propose and then on the other hand employees and senior managers also want to present their projects and products. This can be the stimulus for a longer feature, where we accompany such projects across a series of several articles. It’s quite typical actually. For instance we are currently compiling regional portraits of our six sales regions.
PMX: In addition to the print edition, you also offer the magazine “meine bankpost” digitally. What was the reason for taking this step?
FW: As an employee magazine, we are also competing with the many offers that the employee uses privately. So it’s important to stay on a par with other media and technical developments. If we don’t wish to fall by the wayside, our internal communication cannot ignore the digital transformation in modern communication.
The app version of the “bankpost” is a small step along this path. So we offer employees in remote areas or who are on the go a lot the opportunity to read the magazine on their private mobile phone. “My bankpost” is always available earlier in the app version than the printed one. The clear principle behind this is that we always want to appear in digital form first – as is customary with Kiosk magazines.
PMX: What do employees think about the magazine and the app?
FW: The app is perceived as an additional offer because we continue to distribute the magazine in print. We have received very positive feedback on the app and can also see its acceptance in the concrete number of users. At the beginning, in particular, we experienced a very high growth rate in the double-digit range of about 10 to 15 percent. And the inquiries that come in show that there is definitely an interest and a need. We’ve also received good reviews and comments in the Google Play Store.
PMX: Does the app offer further advantages, for example compared to the in-house intranet?
FW: We consciously produce additional material for each issue so that there is an incentive to use the app. An example is the picture galleries, for which we use existing material from our shootings.
In addition, we produce videos for the app – always between two and four per issue – which are then sometimes informative and sometimes simply reflect the personal lives of the employees in their working environment. At the moment, the app is the most convenient way for us to bring videos to our employees. It also means that even if we have reports in the intranet with accompanying videos, we also occasionally refer to a video in the app.
PMX: What’s your experience – do employee magazines have a positive effect on the working atmosphere and strengthen the sense of community in the company?
FW: I believe that employee magazines still have an important role in internal communication – despite all the digitalization. They go some way to creating a community identity. Of course, it depends heavily on the editorial concept.
We tell stories in our magazine and don’t produce news reports. We present employees personally. And that, of course, creates a feeling of togetherness – of belonging to a community. Especially for those organized in a branch structure with in some cases only a few employees in one specific place, it is important that along with providing an information source we convey the feeling of community and show how all the units contribute to the big picture. An employee newspaper can still help produce and maintain this bond to the company today.
Short Felix Winnand resumé:
For more than six years Felix Winnands has been responsible for the Postbank employee magazine “meine bankpost”. Following positions at Bayer, Deutsche Post DHL, Deutscher Bahn and the agency Medienfabrik (now “Territory”), he is now project manager for internal communication at Postbank. In addition to the printed magazine, he also takes care of the “bankpost” app” and is working on the introduction of a new employee app.
Postbank is a leading bank for private, business and corporate customers with over 20,000 employees and around 1,000 branches throughout Germany. Postbank is part of Deutsche Bank’s private and corporate banking business.
How you can offer your employee magazine as an app, find out here.