Do you have the confidence that every message and experience that customers have with your organisation rings true and leaves a positive impression? Can you rely on your employees to reinforce and echo the sentiment and content of your marketing and PR programmes? Does your internal audience even know and understand the messages you are trying to deliver externally and if so, would they support these?
It seems like common sense to make sure that your internal messages are aligned or at least that they are mutually reinforcing your external content. In reality though, very few companies have actually organised themselves to make this a priority.
I was really interested therefore when I read about the Post Office – one of the most iconic British brands – undertaking a major reorganisation to achieve precisely this. The announcement that they are planning to eradicate the traditional split between PR and internal communications, with an approach which puts content and unified messaging before function, is one that I believe more and more companies should adopt.
It makes sound strategic sense in today’s environment where internal and external audiences are more connected than ever before. Social media are eroding the barriers between internal and external communication, enabling practically any employee to share internal views with the outside world (be it officially supported by the company, or not).
It’s almost impossible therefore to divide between “internal” and “external” discussions and assume each of them will stay within their own sphere. External coverage leads to internal debate, and internal topics become external at some point. Therefore, thematic planning must be aligned between internal and external communication. The external fallout of an internal announcement needs to be anticipated, just as well as the internal perception of a press release that’s issued externally.
Given this interconnectivity, it is paramount that internal and external communication be managed holistically, within a consistent strategic framework that, of course, allows for the use of different tools, and varying priorities.