Series formats and cliffhangers in internal communication

Why do I get stuck on series in Netflix & Co. and find almost no end? Why can I hardly wait for the next season and eagerly await its release? There is theory and great skill behind this.

Those responsible for internal communication are now very familiar with the topic of change, have dealt with many theories and practical solutions that serve as a basis for their own communicative measures.

With the high frequency of change, however, a crucial question arises: are there even completed communication campaigns or is internal communication not rather subject to a constant “flow” in many topics? For example, the introduction of a new tool. At the beginning there is the introductory phase, followed by training courses. Finished! Finished? Actually, the value-added phase only begins now. This means the phase of support, consolidation and readjustment. In between, the update of the tool, further adjustments and optimisations. Internal communication should be alert to discover this flow for itself, the flow parallel to the constant processes of change.

But what does this look like in practice? How can communication be kept interesting without becoming tired or, in the worst case, no longer being heard? What can serve as a yardstick here are series formats like those used in films. In many cases, change communication is not a finished campaign, but becomes a series that is established and continues. It has a narrative continuation character that forms the core for thematically connected episodes and accompanying formats and has an open end. Suspense and curiosity are aroused and maintained by cliffhangers, which means interrupting a story, report, action and plot where it has a climax and continuing it in the sequel.

Cliffhanger is not a new phenomenon. As early as the 1920s, the Gestalt psychologist Kurt Lewin explained in a field theory that when a task is interrupted, tension builds up that is relieved when the task is completed.

His collaborator, Bluma Zeigarnik, worked experimentally on this phenomenon. “Zeigarnik (1927) has been widely cited for the finding that interrupted tasks are better remembered than completed ones; … “1

How can you create such a serial format, you may ask? And how do I develop the right cliffhanger so that no one actually wants to miss the next episode? Feel free to contact us.

If you are looking for inspiration or individual recommendations, please contact us. We will be happy to advise you.


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Mirja Ng-Metzker

Client Relations Manager