Tag Archives: external comms

Internal comms is finished, says Walmart chief

Traditional internal comms faces extinction because employees really want to hear organisations’ external messages instead, says Walmart comms chiefs.

Dan Kneeshaw, senior director of global associate communications at Walmart, says merging internal and external comms helps avoid duplication of content and saves cash.

He spelt out his vision for the IC industry at Ragan’s recent Social Media Conference for PR, Marketing and Corporate Communications, reports PRDaily.com.

He told delegates: “Great content is great content. There isn’t internal or external anymore.

“There is always content that we want our associates to know about, but then there’s the content that our associates want to engage with. Our goal is to find that sweet spot. You have to find a structure that works for your business.”

The US retail giant faces plenty of IC challenges – it employees a staggering 2.3 million people and has 11,000 stores.

The business places a huge emphasis on storytelling: capturing the type of content that makes a positive difference with employee engagement.

Chad Mitchell, senior director of digital communications at Walmart, said the role of communications professionals needs to evolve to become “corporate athletes”.

He said: “You have to know how a press release works and how to leverage social. You need to know how to quickly cut a video.

“You don’t have to be a subject matter expert, but you need to know how every aspect of communications works.”

Mr Kneeshaw added: “You have to be able to recreate yourself to continue to be relevant in your field.

“And you have to know your business. Get steeped in the business and know what you’re talking about. Learn how to tell a story that will be relevant and compelling to your audience. That’s the only way to be effective.”

IC experts have highlighted the line between internal and external communications has become increasingly blurred in recent years.

And they are not the first to suggest the internal communications industry is facing huge change in the near future.

Lucy Adams, the BBC’s former director of HR and internal comms, said in 2015 that IC needed to be replaced with a more “individual-centric approach”.

She wrote: “Internal communications as a narrowly defined function and approach is dead, and a fundamental re-think of communications — and more importantly relationships — with our employees is needed.”

Guest blog: Employees need to be brand advocates in a digital world

Julia Brook, Director of PR Services at Lea Barn Consultancy, explains why embracing digital means businesses must safeguard their reputation with employees – not just external customers.

In today’s social media-driven world, organisations are more exposed than ever before.

Gone are the days when bad news could be buried and unethical corporate behaviour swept under the carpet. In the digital economy, businesses face higher levels of scrutiny from customers, colleagues, prospective employees, shareholders and stakeholders alike.

Companies of all sizes – and in every industry – have to be accountable for what they say and do, with instances of unethical or unjust behaviour managed proactively rather than reactively. Just ask Donald Trump.

So while there is a huge opportunity and, indeed, imperative for organisations to invest in and benefit from new communication platforms, a focus on reputational risk must be a priority.

This has obvious implications for internal communications and employee relations. Research from Accenture Strategy found that 60 per cent of employees publicly share information about their rewards, salaries and opinions of their manager’s performance on social media sites.

Similarly, websites like glassdoor.co.uk have risen to prominence, enabling professionals to share reviews on the best and worst companies to work for, as well as compare salaries and experiences.

Such sites have the potential to impact your brand not only with potential employees but also customers whom are likely to make purchase decisions based on reputation. The media furore over zero-hours contracts and backlash again Sports Direct springs to mind.

Internal communications takes on new importance in this environment. If organisations truly care about attracting and retaining the top talent, it’s vital they:

• Are in tune with their workforce
• Communicate relevant and honest information on a regular basis
• Have the overall aim of ensuring employees become brand advocates in the same way as external customers.

It’s also important that the workforce is your first port of call when crisis hits. Bearing in mind the speed of social media, internal communications have a key role to play in keeping employees informed about what has happened and what is happening.

When corporate reputation is on the line, speedy internal communications are now as important as preparing external statements. Employees should not have to read about bad news on social media before receiving the official (and honest) version of events from the senior team.

So while digital provides exciting opportunities for all organisations, we shouldn’t forget that it also needs careful management.

Companies aren’t able to hide, so they have to be open and honest with their employees – great internal process and dedicated communications platforms will mean an external crisis or threat to corporate reputation need not also be an internal one.