Communicating communication – are we our own worst enemies?

October 23rd, 2016


Have you ever had your hair cut beautifully by someone who has theirs scraped back in a scrunchie reminiscent of the 80s? Or had a fantastic extension built by someone who lives in a house that resembles a perpetual building site?  

Just like the saying about the cobbler’s children having no shoes, it’s a common phenomenon of the modern world, that people don’t have the time to apply their skills to themselves. And internal communicators are no different.

Having worked with many internal comms clients over the years in various capacities, the same issue emerges time and time again – the inability to promote ourselves. We’re often quick to moan that people view us as the messengers, but what have we actually communicated to dispel that perception?

When doing communication audits, I frequently hear “I don’t really know what the comms team do.” Considering that most of us put blood, sweat and tears into many of our campaigns and initiatives, this is disheartening to say the least.

But can you blame them? We’re so busy promoting everyone and everything else, there’s little time left to think about ourselves. Helping people understand the remit of the comms team, the rhythm of communication, and the strategy you’re working to and how it will help the business achieve its goal is imperative to success.

Ask yourselves could people in your organisation list not only your communication vehicles but their purpose? Reading a blog could seem like a luxury to a time-poor employee, yet they might change their view if they knew that’s how the CEO shares strategic updates. Email can be seen as an annoyance and just another thing to read, but if people knew they received just one internal communication email a week and it contains only operational news related to their job, they might stop seeing it as spam.

And what if employees have something they want to communicate. Do they just send a team, or even worse, a firm-wide email? Do people understand who to go to and what the process is? Probably not.

Visibility is also important – if who we are and what we do is shrouded in mystery because we spend all our time chained to our desks, it should come as no surprise when our communications fall a bit flat. One of the hallmarks of a great communicator is curiosity so we should be out there networking – not only to find out what’s going on across the business, but to make sure the business knows how we’re supporting them.

So, when you’re setting your priorities for 2017, make sure communicating your team, strategy and channels is high on the list, because if you get that right, it will lay the groundwork for all future communications.

And remind employees regularly, not just about channels and strategy but about your achievements. Our industry boasts some exceptionally talented people and teams – so let’s shout about it and tell our companies about all the great stuff we’re doing. After all, we’d be the first people to wax lyrical on the importance of setting an example.


Categories: Internal communicationPR


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“Helen’s passion for her profession shines through very clearly and she manages to combine her deep knowledge of internal communications with a mix of pragmatism and fresh thinking. She is a delight to work with and has a high level of integrity.”

Richard Fitzmaurice, TMF Group