PR career rule No. 1: Thou shalt not do internal communications

An expert asserts that the artificial distinction between external and internal communications hurts morale, weakens the brand, and constricts the careers of all organizational messengers.

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Most of my career has been in PR and corporate communications; the past few years I’ve specialized in employee communications. One common experience at two different jobs: I asked colleagues from external to help manage my function and team for a week while I was on vacation. My request was greeted by a look of shock followed by excuses.

I don’t get it. But the truth is, I probably behaved like that before I appreciated the power of effective employee communications.

Recently I was talking about this wall with a friend, an accomplished external practitioner. He said he wasn’t interested in internal communications because he wouldn’t know how to measure it. In his PR job, he’s satisfied when a great article comes out about his company’s new product, or when his team changes the mind of a blogger biased against his company. What could possibly equal that in internal?

I was tempted to answer that effective employee communication increases job satisfaction, morale, productivity and commitment. It enhances quality and the bottom-line. As for measurement, there’s the annual engagement survey; there are regular pulse surveys. And surely he knew that good communication of business initiatives moves employees from strategic awareness to strategic acceptance and taking action to support it? What could be nobler?

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