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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.”