Internal Communications - don't rely on the grapevine

Just this week The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) launched its latest report which focuses on the perceptions of internal communication amongst chief executives.

As a PR professional with a number of years (more than I’d like to admit to) experience in the field, I remain as passionate about internal communications as I do about external comms, PR and marketing.  I’ve always believed that any organisation, no matter how large or small, needs to embrace the views and ideas of its staff – after all, aren’t they the company’s ambassadors, representing the company on the front line?

The report, Making it Count, suggests that senior leaders do understand and appreciate the importance of internal communication. This is a really positive message because for years internal comms was often overlooked or forgotten, with many organisations allowing the ‘grapevine’ to spread company information. As we know the ‘grapevine’ is often mis-informed, biased and ill-timed.

As part of the study, 14 CEOs were interviewed and the research shows that internal communicators have been recognised as “the custodians of translating strategy, company values and priorities, enabling others to understand the part they play.”

What’s particularly interesting is that the leaders interviewed identified a link between good internal communication and strong financial performance. The report also concludes that internal communicators have earned the trust of senior leaders to develop strategic messages. This is big news. Has the time come when communications in all its forms, is no longer seen as a fluffy add-on or a ‘nice to do’? Communications for all organisations should be strategic, well planned, responsive and most importantly in-tune with its ambassadors - namely staff.

Sometimes it can be tough for senior leaders to take the temperature and find out how staff feel about internal communications but those who take the plunge often find it enlightening with some simple ‘quick wins’ becoming apparent, which can easily be put in place. Internal communications is not just the leaders communicating and the staff teams listening, it should always work both ways and often across the whole of an organisation.