Blog: Five internal communication myths

Five internal communication myths

October 8, 2015

Every year I look forward to summer and the fabled ‘summer slowdown’.

My plans are never too complicated: ease my overflowing inbox, allow for some much needed time to clear my desk and mind, and get around to things lurking on my ‘to-do’ list.

However, as with almost every year, this quiet period did not arrive. In fact, I found myself busier than ever. This got me thinking, what other internal communications myths are out there?

I’ve come up with a few but I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions for IC myths. Let me know on jane.revell@headlines.uk.com

Jane Revell
Jane Revell

My top five internal communications myths

Myth one: Internal communications stays internal
The lines between internal and external communications are increasingly blurred. Our employees are often also customers, residents or stakeholders and the rise in social media means internal and external communications needs to be aligned more than ever.
There has never been a time when we were guaranteed that internal messages would stay within an organisation but, in today’s world, internal messages can be shared and passed on far more easily.
Internal communications always needs to think how the campaign or message will be perceived externally. You only need to think about the Sainsbury’s 50p challenge to see the impact of an internal campaign going external.

Myth two: Internal communications is PR’s ‘poor cousin’
Internal communications has traditionally been regarded as PR’s less exciting, less glamourous cousin.
I’ve enjoyed working within PR in media relations and external communications as well as internal communications during the last 15 years and it has been great to see that the recognition of the importance of IC has grown so enormously in recent years.
Communicators and senior leaders now realise the importance of valuing employees, first and foremost as the people who drive the success of an organisation, and recognise the impact effective internal communications has on business performance.

Myth three: You can’t measure the return on investment of internal communications
Finding ways to measure the impact of internal communications can be challenging, particularly in regards to understanding behaviour change.
However, just because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean it is impossible. New technology offers more opportunities to understand real-time employee attitudes, opinions and perspectives with social commenting, shares and ratings as well as using qualitative and quantitative research.
I love that there has been much more focus on internal communication measurement in the industry recently, and the CIPR Inside’s annual conference this year is entirely focused on making an impact.

Myth four: Send an all staff email to inform employees of an important issue. Job done.
I have lost count of the number of times working in-house I was asked to put something on the intranet or to send an ‘all employee’ email.
They would think ‘job done, we have communicated that issue to our staff’. Not so much.
Internal communications is about people, understanding our people and engaging them in what is happening.
I frequently hear about issues of email overload with middle managers missing vital communication that has been simply sent by email rather than taking a strategic and targeted approach to help people understand and engage with change or important information.

Myth five: Social media has no place at work
Many social media networks have grown organically due to IT departments resisting introducing formal corporate networks.
Even with the rapid growth and popularity of internal social media such as Yammer, some organisations seem to struggle with a perceived lack of control, issues of trust and empowerment of employees.
Social media isn’t for everyone but it can provide fantastic opportunities for greater collaboration, interaction and involvement of all employees whatever their job role, team, location or status.
It provides further opportunities for engagement with senior leaders who are onboard with social media and builds a sense of company understanding and culture.