Disrupting the Function of Internal Communication: A Global Perspective

The internal communication profession faces turbulent times and the role of IC practitioners may well be at a turning point. Caught between multiple increasing challenges brought about by the impact of technology, the convergence and integration of communication disciplines and over-riding agendas like employee engagement and advocacy, the profession must dig deep for insights and new ways to define itself.

For the first time, a collective global effort attempts to address these questions in a new ebook published by IC Kollectif, a Montréal-based nonprofit organization connecting communication professionals with knowledge, research and the community of expertise that are focused internal and organizational communication globally.

With responses from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia, and thirty renowned senior communication professionals across age, gender, background and the in-house and consultant spectrum, Disrupting the Function of IC – A Global Perspective, offers a broad, actionable, global picture of where internal communication must be in the future by providing key pointers to help drive better business outcomes.

The ebook was launched in New York, on Monday, June 12 by the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, representing 160,000 communication professionals worldwide.

In her foreword, Professor Anne Gregor, Former Chair of the Global Alliance and Chair of Corporate Communication at the University of Huddersfield, writes “this new book by IC Kollectif makes a major contribution to the exploration of the rich and complex work of internal communication. The collection of contributing authors is first class: drawn from across the world and all with a record of being thought leaders in the area as well as experienced practitioners.”

Reality Check
Authors take a realistic yet critical look at the profession by raising issues communication professionals can no longer ignore. We operate in a field where many people consider themselves to be experts1. More than ever, communication professionals need to be able to prove their value to the business and all efforts should be based on significant business results, focused on outcomes, rather than outputs2. Quite simply, if what we do can’t be measured, then we are not adding value and therefore our efforts become irrelevant.

As one of the author puts it, “internal communication strategic planning remains a critical first step, regardless of what technological advances present themselves. Just as with external constituencies, organizational strategy must lead communication strategy, let alone communication tactics and tools. Without a clear set of expectations, interim measures and definitions of success, communicators run the risk of succumbing to fads.3

The 222-page ebook offers a comprehensive reference section and eight chapters:

  1. Changes and Challenges looks at how turbulent times impacts the profession and how internal communication professionals can deal with these issues.
  2. Skills and Knowledge of Internal Communication Professionals sheds light on the main skills and talents that will drive IC going forward.
  3. Impact of Technology on the Profession discusses the extent to which changes in technology will drive and/or impact on internal communication into the future, and the role that IC professionals should play in this context.
  4. Leadership Role of IC Professionals examines the need for IC professionals to step up and take ownership of their role as a leader, why this has become paramount to the practice, and provides advice to practitioners to succeed in this new role.
  5. Employee Advocacy is discussed from the new research perspective showing that employee engagement has grown far beyond the common definition, moving toward employee advocacy. The authors discuss their views on the subject and what this mean for internal communication professionals.
  6. Convergence and Integration of Communication Disciplines takes a look at how the traditional lines between internal and external communication are blurring from key messages to audience analysis, strategies and channels and what this means to the future of the internal communication function.
  7. Collaboration Between Internal Communication and Other Disciplines insists on the necessity for IC to work closely with other disciplines, such as external communication, marketing and others, and suggests approaches that should be considered for the benefits of the organization.
  8. Future of the Profession examines how the rules of internal communication have changed and are changing, and makes recommendations on how communication professionals should be dealing with those.

What Lies Ahead
The velocity of change in a global economy is never going to slow down, and the human need to adapt is only going to become more urgent. This has immense consequences, not only internally, but externally as well.4

If the walls between internal and external communication have still not officially come down yet in some organizations, the truth is that employees have already made them implode. Inevitably, any information shared with the employees can be made public and we must be able to manage this. In this context, how can internal communication and external communication can afford not to join forces? Collaboration between IC and other disciplines, convergence and intergration of communication disciplines seem to be the natural next steps.

Indeed, social media, and the way people connect and share information has changed the practice of IC forever. Yet, our job is to put business goals ahead of technology tools and focus on strategy more than tactics. It’s more important than ever for us to help create an effective communication environment and build communication strategies that help teams accomplish their business goals.

What is really the role of IC? To what extent have rules changed for the practitioners? What lies ahead for the profession? These are important questions that any communication professional who is serious about internal communication, should consider.

Disrupting the Function of IC – A Global Perspective is available free of charge and can be downloaded on the IC Kollectif’s website.


Lise Michaud, Founder of IC Kollectif, has more than 25 years of experience in senior communication roles across the public and private sectors in Canada. She was recently named to the list of the 2017 Global Employee Engagement Influencers. You can follow IC Kollectif on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

 

References

Disrupting the Function of IC – A Global Perspective (2017) IC Kollectif

1 p. 39

2 p. 55

3 p. 70

4 p. 22

5 p. 79

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