“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” – George Bernard Shaw
The value to a company in communicating effectively, both internally and with customers, is a no-brainer. But surprisingly it is something that many companies fail to do well. How can companies ensure that Internal Communications and Marketing are on the same page? New research by Project.co reveals that, despite the ready availability of technology, businesses still struggle to communicate. When surveyed, 89% of people agreed that communication is extremely important, yet 8 out of 10 people described their own business communication as average or poor.
So why would that be the case?
“The way you communicate an idea is different than the way you communicate a product” – Frank Luntz
A good Marketing department identifies, anticipates and fulfils customer needs. A good Internal Communications (IC) department supports every function within an organisation, ensuring that all employees are aware of key issues, new products, challenges and successes. IC and Marketing can be impressive partners, but there are challenges to overcome in order for them to work together effectively.
- Marketing focuses on customers: it can be easy to overlook internal implications of a rebranding exercise or venturing into a new market.
- External marketing campaigns are often not fully signed-off until very shortly before going live. This means that it can be difficult to share details internally prior to the launch of a campaign.
- IC has its own priorities and may the lack time and resources to devote to adapting information originally designed for the customer to internal stakeholders.
“Information is giving out; communication is getting through” – Sydney J. Harris
In today’s world of electronic communications, it should, in theory, be easier than ever before for management to communicate with staff and for colleagues to communicate with each other. Research by TalentWorks has shown that email has overtaken face-to-face conversation as the primary means for colleagues to interact with each other, whether they are working remotely or in the same office. So, if marketing “tells” sales about a rebranding initiative, or if sales tells customer services, the information will get to the people who need to know, right?
Wrong. While email is efficient and fast, communication inevitably becomes siloed; with the best will in the world some team members are inadvertently excluded from conversations and information sent to individual inboxes can be missed if colleagues are absent or leave the company.
Email is also very passive and can be a lazy way of communicating by assuming that once a message sent then its job done – it’s up to the recipient to read the email and inform themselves on what’s happening. Wrong!
So what’s the solution?
“The best teams have consistency and chemistry” – Roger Staubach
A company’s brand ambassadors are undoubtedly its staff, and if IC and Marketing collaborate, a strong internal message can be built. Advocates for a specific message can be recruited internally, thus involving employees in new campaigns and having them spread the word to colleagues and beyond. These employees feel a valued part of the process, and will in turn buy into campaigns from the start, rather than hearing about them later via a string of emails starting at the very top.
On a practical level, Marketing and IC often share similar skillsets, such as copywriting, PR, campaign management and an in-depth understanding of the company’s core business. So it makes sense to establish strong links between the two departments and to work together to further the aims of the organisation.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” –Henry Ford
A successful partnership between Marketing and IC requires commitment from both departments. With that in mind, here are six steps to effective collaboration.
Marketing: Where possible, station marketers within business units rather than all in one central department. Understand your internal stakeholders and how IC can work with you to get them on board with your campaigns.
IC: Cultivate your relationship with Marketing to ensure that you are involved in their campaigns and plans as early as possible.
Marketing: Share the news! Tell IC your plans so that they can let employees know that there is something exciting in the pipeline. Don’t wait until completion. You can reveal details later.
IC: Use the information you are given to be clear about which departments will be affected most and focus on them rather than issuing company-wide edicts. Recognise the main stakeholders and involve them directly.
Marketing: Explain your core messages to IC. Offer to be involved in training so that internal stakeholders understand how they are directly involved.
IC: Demonstrate your value! Reinterpret campaigns for internal use, organise departmental briefings, engage internal advocates.
Good working practice thrives on teamwork, mutual respect and a thorough understanding of the goals of the business. If Marketing and IC can achieve these together, committed staff and satisfied customers will surely follow.
If you need help tailoring your communications campaigns for use in internal communications, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org