Why is it so easy to neglect internal comms?

17 Oct

Now, I’m not suggesting that this is the case for everyone, but I think internal comms gets a bit of a bum deal. It kind of belongs to comms but also has strong and obvious links with HR. And, somewhere amongst the two internal comms gets a little bit lost. Dare I say it? Neglected.

A spotlight in a dark room

I think there are a few reasons why this happens:

1. It’s not going to get us a front page story

If you work in comms, hopefully you know how great it feels to get really positive coverage from the media. It’s visible; it’s credible (for the most part) and is great for the organisation’s reputation. It’s a quick win so we plough our resources into it.

2. It just isn’t sexy enough

I’ve heard internal comms described as a ‘whinge fest’, a chance for the serial complainers to carry on moaning. Well, if you put it like that maybe I’ll give it a wide berth too.

3. Why stir up the hornets’ nest?

Businesses are trying to survive and to do that they have to make a lot of tough decisions. It’s inevitable that whatever decisions they make, they won’t be able to please everyone so why bother aggravating the situation? Let’s just keep our heads down and do what we have to.

4. It’s not my job, is it?

Like I said above, no-one really knows where to put it. It flits between the comms and HR teams without anyone really taking ownership. With no-one driving it forward it just becomes an after-thought: ‘oh, I suppose we’d better send out a staff email or something’.

5. It’s a tough old job

Don’t underestimate internal comms. It’s not all touchy-feely. In fact, it can be quite lonely. You become the ‘face’ of culture change – the person forcing people to do things differently. One minute you’re chatting to employees over a cuppa and the next they see you through suspicious eyes. Now, it’s not always like that but it does happen. Frequently.

There are probably hundreds of other reasons to explain why internal comms hides in the shadows. All of which are important to note but maybe a little irrelevant. We need to concentrate our efforts on making things right.

In an ideal world, maybe your organisation would have a giant PR team with a nice big healthy campaign budget. Maybe. But that’s not the time we live in. We need to look at things differently. If you want to build your reputation you need to do it from the inside out. Focus on your people. Give colleagues the confidence and the skills to tell your story. Make them your brand ambassadors and it will translate across all areas of your business. Create a customer experience that won’t be forgotten. No amount of PR will get you that sort of credibility. Surely that’s reason enough to put internal comms in the spotlight?

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6 Responses to “Why is it so easy to neglect internal comms?”

  1. Nadia October 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Nobody enjoys working in a working environment they don’t appreciate. Besides, leaders can miss some important feedback from employees to a better business performance. In my opinion, if you don’t cultivate a goo internal communication to promote integration and a good environment, a team won’t be strong or cooperative because employees leave and come, whilst the lack of motivation can undermine their true potential.

    • Jessica Roberts October 18, 2012 at 5:53 am #

      Thanks for your comments Nadia. You’re spot on about employees coming and going. A disengaged workforce will naturally be pretty fluid. Whereas an included and appreciated workforce tends to show more stability and loyalty.

  2. Dan Blundell (@danblundell) October 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Great points Jessica – I completely agree, much of the stigma around internal comms stems from engagement. An organisation can communicate everything incredibly well but if your employees aren’t engaged, or they’re just not that bothered, it’s pretty much going to be in vain.

    Organisations can quite easily be caught up in businessy ideals a bit too much – if and when I’ve been exposed to peoples opinion of internal comms it’s always very stuffy, formal and just a little bit dull. If employees don’t feel engaged and don’t think internal communication is going to offer something interesting or useful to them, why would they listen.

    It’s about delivering value, I don’t think that necessarily means ‘we need a massive crew of PR wizards’ but what it may mean is finding a platform where the focus isn’t just about delivering a business message. If internal comms was approached more about a workforce feeling like a collective, not like a bunch of cogs in a machine people may think more positively!

    • Jessica Roberts October 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

      Thanks Dan. I totally agree with your point about ‘a bunch of PR wizards’. I think comms (in general) has moved on from that. We’re no longer the do-ers, we’re the enablers. We’re there to share our skills, help people build their networks and nurture those networks as they develop/grow.

      Internal comms is no longer about sending out messages from ‘the top’ and cascading them through the organisation. It’s about a networked and engaged workforce. Horizontal communication, if you like.

      • Daniel Blundell October 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

        Couldn’t agree more! Great to hear an open minded view on this, look forward to hearing more.

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  1. Before You Ask a Comms Pro to Switch a Light Bulb – Watch This Video. « Anna Rydne Communicate (your) Skills - November 2, 2012

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