Interview: Internal communication is an art, not a science

internal comms is an art, not science, says Russell Grossman

March 21, 2014

In the second part of our exclusive interview, Russell Grossman explains why the IC Space will benefit the entire communications industry – and reveals the success of the online toolkit won’t be measured in website hits.

Billed as an online internal communications oracle, the IC Space is tasked with helping drive IC excellence in the UK.

But Mr Grossman – the Director of Communications, Department for Business, Innovation and Skill, who has overseen the launch of the ambitious project – believes it could be a resource for the whole communications industry.

He told Headlines: “Although it’s called the IC Space, it’s not necessarily just going to benefit the internal communications market.

“I believe communications is the generic skill, whether it’s internal, media, stakeholders, whoever.

“Your audience is the thing that changes; your application of the skill is the same.

“Do you have judgement? Can you demonstrate resilience? Are you able to form the relationships? Do you have the intuition?

“All of these elements – as well as the basic ability to form relationships, get on with people and know the difference between an apostrophe and a comma – are generic competences

“I’m one of the people who happens to believe communications is an art, not a science.”

    The IC Space is part of the IC Excellence project – a six-strand approach to improve internal communication in Whitehall.

    It is part of wider communication transformations, named the Communications Government Reforms, following a 2011/12 review.

    There are 11 reforms – a list that includes planning; evaluating; talent management; regional communications and digital communications.

    Mr Grossman, whose first internal comms role was with the BBC a decade ago, said: “We are likely to develop a line manager toolkit, it may be a chapter of the IC Space.

    “Practitioners are more interested in a deeper level. There will be differences in the way we present it.”

    Currently in beta form, the IC Space is due live in the summer. But how will the site be measured?

    Mr Grossman added: “Website hits are not great at tracking success. Hits stands for ‘How Idiots Track Success’ – its shows how many people have opened the URL and not much more.

    “I think [signs of success are] the number of people from anecdotal evidence and general chatter are using it – are we getting references on Twitter? In publications? Or when you walk in to a room, do you hear someone say ‘I got that off the IC Space’?”