If you work in PR, this is the video you must see if you want to sell a credible story
Some phrases are just unexpected. Most of the time because they are nonsensical. “I don’t want to win the lotto” is something you don’t expect to hear. Similarly, I’ve never heard anyone say they work in PR to create a healthy corporate culture, but on the flip side, that’s a logical assertion. It highlights a problem – the “Public” in Public Relations is misused and subsequently misunderstood. You see, Public is too easily interchanged with Media. Why is Internal Communications seen as something different all together? Like Media Relations, isn’t it still essentially about influencing the Public? It’s the same for Analyst Relations or Community Management via social media. They are all subsets of Public Relations. With respect to internal communications, if your staff aren’t the embodiment of your brand, who is? For Comms Pros it’s impossible to have a comprehensive public relations plan if your, or your client’s staff, aren’t a central tenant of it!
My last Blog was about the power of imagery, so I’m going to live by this and segway to a video that I think is too good not to share. It takes three minutes and it’s hilarious:
Hopefully this is now starting to resonate. If it isn’t, consider this, organisations and business units with higher engagement levels have higher customer advocacy. If you’ve never felt the weight of a PR plan before, it’s probably because it didn’t factor this in. So what needs to be included in your internal communications plan if it is to effectively dovetail into your public relations strategy?
Make it regular, transparent and consistent: All comms pros understand that regular touch points are fundamental in communicating effectively. Nothing is different for internal communications. Even better still, make sure your internal communications plan sets a clear expectation about when certain things will be shared and by who. And… remember, the best internal communications is where the staff feel respected enough that you won’t “spin” to them. Remember, you are all in it together. If you don’t get real with them, they won’t be real with you in return – and you need them to be. Be decisive so you leave no room for doubt. Doubt will be your downfall.
Ensure it’s free-flowing: Internal communications is about rallying the troops, as well as it is learning from them. They need information to function and feel apart of the team, if you want a truly healthy culture. This means you need systems and processes to facilitate communication up, down and sideways. Not just that, but you have to model it. What does that mean? It means documenting and sharing the initiation, the response and the outcome – back to being transparent! An excellent example of this is using something like Yammer, which allows you to collaborate securely but openly across departments, geographies and business applications.
Don’t forget your partners: Don’t confuse Public with Media and don’t confuse Internal with Insular. Organisations work with Partners to extend their penetration into a market. True partnership is where one is wed in the other; key word here being ‘in’. If you value your partners, keep them in the loop. Talk to them like you talk with your staff – regularly, transparently and consistently. Partners want two things – profitable relationships firstly and trusted relationships secondly, but the most profitable relationships are the ones you trust to plan long term with. Internal communications is your platform to build this confidence and commitment.
Dedicate budget to celebrating successes: If you want to connect with “your public” you need to evolve and grow individually and corporately. You will have highs and lows. You need to acknowledge them. Do it at a corporate level, divisionally and within smaller teams, virtual or other. When you have a win, don’t keep it within the management team, or even just the team that was chiefly responsible for it. It’s a mistake to think no-one else is interested. Conversely learn as a collective from adversity. The best corporate cultures have internal communications programs that share in it all. The best Public Relations strategies leverage the healthiest corporate cultures.