In the 20 years since Headlines began, IC has changed so much it is unrecognisable from where it started.
Proper staff communication and engagement is now recognised for how important it is to morale and business success; budgets are higher and companies take it very seriously.
Even some of the big advertising agencies are creating their own IC departments to get in on the game.
In amongst this explosion, there remains a battle to win – perception.
Despite how far we have come, we often encounter the perception that IC is the poor cousin of external communications, marketing and advertising.
We hear IC is:
* ‘Not exciting’
‘Not fun or emotionally challenging’
Some of this is true. Much is also rubbish, but the perception remains. Our challenge is to change this so that IC stands shoulder-to-shoulder with external communications, marketing and advertising.
Where does this perception come from? It is likely historical, from a time when engaging employees was not as important as communicating with customers.
That lack of budget and ambition manifested itself in uninspiring magazines, lifeless videos and intranets so bad you needed therapy after using them.
We’ve come a long way since then, but often the mindset remains – that employee communications will be less powerful or impressive than customer/public communications, and that is OK.
A massive shake up is needed to move IC channels into the premier league, and the responsibility lies with IC practitioners to make it happen and challenge how we approach traditional IC channels, starting with the most prominent: the company magazine.
This should be a publication of such quality that staff would pay £5 if they saw it on the shelf in WHSmith.
No, this is not a joke.
Employees spend more time at work then they do with their families or enjoying hobbies, so it’s only fair we make the business of communicating and engaging with them entertaining, as well as informative.
Otherwise, how we can we expect them to read it when they already spend most of their life in the business?
Would it be so bad for them to laugh while reading the magazine?
To read stories that make them cry?
Why not film reviews? Or music? Local events? Short stories and comic strips? There is no reason why staff mags have to contain only company content; it all depends on your company culture.
A magazine by global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright even has art essays and travelogues, designed to be read by staff and clients alike.
Whatever the content, it should reflect the personality of the people that work there, rather than just the corporate image, because (as we well know) your people ARE your company.
Ultimately, the challenge comes down to IC people raising their ambitions and shooting for the stars with everything we do.
IC is no longer the poor cousin; we know that, so let’s go prove it to the world.