The Internal Communications function is uniquely prepared to reflect and amplify an organization’s culture. Period. If your organization looks to a charismatic business leader, the HR department, a PR agency, the company’s marketing guru, a project manager, or any of the other good folks who contribute to the success of our businesses, your organization is looking in all the wrong places.
That’s because only Internal Communications both observes and lives inside the organization. We are in the sweet spot! We can develop the right messaging, organize the right timing, and leverage the right media that will resonate with the right people for maximum impact. What’s more, we can empower those right people to have good conversations with other right people outside the organization. Sweet!
But this doesn’t just “happen.” It requires planning and a good organizational structure that aligns the function with the top decision makers. Once plans and positioning are in place, we are able to strategically and effectively reflect and amplify the culture, now and for the future.
Sad to say, companies often position communications capabilities far down inside the organization, against individual programs or projects. The rationale is that the effort is important, and it warrants a dedicated communications resource.
That’s a great attitude, but there’s a danger with this reasoning. Following the logic, program/project owners will be disappointed in the results. They’ll see murky messages and messy execution. And it’s not the internal communicator’s fault. When he or she is positioned at the program or project level, there’s only a limited view, which is restricted to the issues, vocabulary, and objectives of that program or project. There are no top-level organizing principles – that is, articulated culture now and for the future, strategic company-wide messages or themes, and an organizational communications calendar – to inform internal communications plans and tactics. As a result, one effort’s communications will compete with another effort’s communications, which will neutralize the reach and efficacy of both efforts. In other words, noise.
An Internal Communications function on the periphery of strategic decision-making will result in marginalized messages. Your programs and projects are too important. Put Internal Communications at the sweet spot – the strategic level – for best results.