The death of IC has been greatly exaggerated
— April 5th, 2018
Just like erroneous reports of Mark Twain's death, the frequently reported demise of Internal Communications has been proved not only wrong but greatly exaggerated.
Round and round and round we've gone: article after article saying IC is dead or dying, inevitably followed by rebuttals proclaiming that IC is alive and well, just evolving.
2014 “The End of Internal Communication?”
2015 “No, internal communications is not dead”
2016 “Internal communications is dead”
Obviously, these articles might simply be using the “death” proclamation as clickbait, since most of the authors offer some hope of IC’s longevity and a belief that the function is critical to companies, albeit needing improvement.
It seems to me though, that the fear of IC’s demise comes from an underlying fear among practitioners of it being dispensable. I for one, don’t see many articles about the death of HR or IT.
The reason for this is simple and obvious: how can an organization function without them? But we should be feeling that same way about IC. Why is it that IC still seems to be an “extra”, an expendable piece, to some organizations and senior leaders?
I’ll offer a possible answer: the current heart of IC doesn’t lend itself to establishing an irreplaceable presence. Distinction: by heart of IC I mean the area communicators are putting the most amount of their energy into.
Two years ago, Poppulo partnered with Ragan and surveyed over 700 internal communicators around the world to assess the state of the sector. The results showed that IC's heartbeat was beating away, alive but frail.
73% of internal communicators spend most their time on content creation, writing, gathering feedback and approval. Somebody call 911, this heart needs CPR!
45% of communications sent out by IC were sent ad hoc, meaning that IC does a lot of unplanned, and reactive work
95% of internal communicators agreed that measurement was extremely important but it was also the area ICs spent the least amount of time on
Only 33% of internal communicators have a long-term strategic plan in place. Those who did have a long-term IC strategy in place were called into decision-making meetings earlier and received more senior leadership support
From all this research, we see an IC heart that consists mainly of content creation without much focus on strategy or measurement.
Of course, content creation is important but it seems that IC should really be a trickle-down blood flow, with strategy and measurement acting as the beating heart that oxygenates the rest of the body.
Because, if you have good actionable analytics and a strategy to implement the learnings from those measurements, then your content creation will automatically be more relevant and engaging.
But why is this so hard to put into practice? There is probably a multitude of reasons, including time, budget, and organizations not valuing the importance of IC.
Did I mention budget? It seems to me that to keep IC not only alive but as vibrant as it needs to be, we need senior leaders to champion the function and allocate budgets so teams can use tools specific for IC.
The problem is it’s a closed-loop. Without great measurement tools, it’s hard to prove the value and get support or budget from senior leadership so you can’t get the great measurement tools in the first place. Ugh!
I’d be interested to hear what you think and whether you agree or disagree. Do we need to switch around our “heart” to one with a focus on strategy and measurement and what are your obstacles in doing so?