Internal comms: It’s not a load of rubbish!

Internal communication: It’s not a load of rubbish

February 17, 2014

Russell Grossman is a communicator of great esteem. He knows the power of carefully chosen words in shaping moods and minds.

As Director of Communications at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, he certainly understands the nuances of spin.

So does he kick off a keynote interview on internal communication by referring to it as “… the rubbish end of the comms business”?

True, the sentence begins: “Too often internal communication is regarded as…”

But that’s not the point. The word that sticks is “rubbish”.

He also announces that “some” IC practitioners are “really good” – but many end up doing the job because they’re “not much good at doing anything else”.

On behalf of Britain’s IC community, I say this to Mr Grossman: Thanks for the vote of confidence!

But more seriously, what public sector planet are you on?

Does anyone working in IC today really feel they’re at the “rubbish end” of the business?

I’ve enjoyed 35 years in media and communication of all shapes and sizes and I can honestly say that IC, now, is the place to be. It’s vibrant, dynamic and pioneering.

Business is prepared to invest heavily because it recognises the value of internal communication in shaping its ability to compete and win.

And the practitioners I know are not refugees from the corporate trashcan. They are skilled and innovative business professionals.

Maybe Russell spends too much time schmoozing in the cynical, discredited world of decline and yesteryear that is occupied by politicians and national journalists.

Maybe his outlook simply reflects the organisationally retarded nature of the public sector, where employee engagement hasn’t improved much since the feudal system.

The irony that he represents the department charged with innovation and economic growth is not lost.

Like many in Government, Russell also suffers from delusions of institutional adequacy.

He believes the civil service can set a standard for excellence in IC that will “lead the way” for business.

Hold fire, Mr Grossman. Promising the undeliverable risks reputational damage.

We really do wish you the best, because an engaged and productive public sector will be better, cheaper and more effective, for all of us.

But please don’t fantasise about leading the way when you’ve just been lapped three times in the marathon.

It is time to step in to the real world and take a look at what we’re doing.

The achievements of business in IC and employee engagement are amazing.

And we’re doing it on our own, without helpful intervention or legislation from the Government, and without feeling like we’re rubbish.

Russell Grossman is interviewed in the current issue of Inside Out, magazine of the Institute of Internal Communication.