The recent Sainsbury 50p farce highlights a key factor about internal communications today. How much of it can or should be internal?
Although this incident could be put down to poor communication (irony) and amplified by an eagle-eyed consumer, it could equally have been shared by a disgruntled employee. Very little internal communication can ever be classed as such. We’ve seen communication find its way to the outside world – such as the infamous Goldmans letter. We have companies, like Royal Mail, who have made their intranet open and accessible to the public. It now seems vogue for Chief Execs, like Satya Nadella, to send an email to their employees and to the press at the same time.
Of course, some of this is for effect. We know that. But equally there is an argument that a lot of internal communication can be shared outside. One recent speaker (from a leading bank) at a CIPR Inside event proposed that internal communications is simply a more detailed version of external communications. Maybe over-simplistic, but there is a thought here that internal and external comms should be very much part of the same pie [sic].
There are serious exceptions. Financials. Innovation. Strategy. R&D. In fact, everything that’s going to provide a competitive advantage in the future. But surely much of the rest is a good source of added marketing and promotion, that tells a story about how you practise what you preach, and how your colleagues are aligned to your vision, mission and customer commitment.
Perhaps the reason many companies don’t is because their colleagues aren’t. Now there’s a sad thought…