Internal communications is dead. Or, if it isn’t, it will be soon.
The above are words recently spoken by Chad Mitchell (Senior Director of Digital Communications at Walmart), in answer to what he thought the future held for internal communications.
It’s a bold statement, but one that shouldn’t be taken at face value. As he then went on to explain that he didn’t think internal communications is no longer needed. Instead, he simply believes that internal communications shouldn’t be done in isolation.
That is what he thinks communications should be called – as internal and external communications work better when they work more closely together.
His words are undeniably thought provoking, and so we were forced into a moment of reflection.
The outcome of our thinking? Well, he’s definitely got a point. And there are a number of reasons as to why we think so. Here are three of them:
1. The boundaries between internal and external communications are being continually blurred
Employees want to hear the stories being told externally, and outsiders want to know the real organisation (what’s going on inside) as they crave transparency and authenticity. What this reveals is how organisations should now simply be focussing on telling great stories through great content – and doing so without the need to focus on one audience over another (internal vs external).
Clearly, there are some forms of communication and content that employees have to know about, but the emphasis must be on creating content that they WANT to know about. Great content is that which satisfies both the ‘need to know’ and the ‘want to know’, for both employees and non-employees alike.
2. Telling the same stories
In light of the above, what you will find is that external and internal communications often want to tell the same stories. Therefore, by having the two functions working more closely together, you can avoid the replication of content. This can help reduce costs and also improve the quality and speed of the content.
3. The influence of social media
Naturally, and rightly so, more and more of our clients want to tell their stories through social channels.
Often what happens is someone within the business will have something they want to say – whether it be news, a success story, or actions that demonstrate the values held by the organisation. The issue clients have though, is that they don’t know how best to tell a story through social media. Or what can be worse, individual employees try to do it themselves, resulting in an ineffective, off-brand, badly designed piece of social content – which ultimately reflects badly on the organisation as a whole.
Organisations should be focusing on how they can tell their stories in the social world, especially stories told by their employees. This is because studies regularly show employees to be an organisations most trusted source of information (Edelman, 2017), and so effectively harnessing employee advocacy is why organisations must make social content a priority.
When organisations do focus on creating social content, it will likely further reveal how ineffective it is to have internal and external communication teams operating in isolation. As messy, unorganised content, absent of a binding strategy, is what can easily result when the two communications teams aren’t well integrated.
However, when internal and external communication teams operate as one integrated team, and are supported by those with social media capabilities, well, then there is a real chance of achieving something great.
Hopefully you found this short blog post thought provoking enough, so that you too will take some time to reflect on the future of internal communications.
We believe it really does come down to the need for organisations to change their mind-set. Specifically, from not seeing content as either needing to be internal or external, but instead simply seeing content as needing to be GREAT.
By viewing it that way, it’s easy to see why Chad thinks ‘Eternal Communications’ is what all organisations should be striving to achieve.
If you need some help creating GREAT content of your own, then we can certainly help you with that.
Until next time…