Monday, July 03, 2006

Preaching to the converted

It's hot in here today - probably legally too hot to be working - but that's the up and downside of running my own business. I'm setting up an employee report for a City firm today, so have to make a longish round of calls, but I can do it with the door and windows open, sitting barefoot in a pair of shorts and an open shirt. Probably not the most edifying word picture, but at least I can get the job done without expiring.

Anyway, after hitting three voicemails in a row, I'm having a little break, while I remember to get down a thought that has struck me more and more over the past few weeks.

When we, as comms consultants, talk to internal communicators, we're talking to the wrong people. we're preaching to the converted - to the ones who 'get it'.

There are still the old-schoolers out there for whom internal communication is all about producing magazines and intranets, but in my last few weeks, in London, Baltimore, Washington and in deepest rural England, I've met half a dozen communicators who really understand what we're about. They not only grasp the concepts of issue over output; business enablement and change enablement, but are driving these areas within their business. Interestingly, all came from backgrounds outside journalism - HR, general management, local government management and change. Interestingly too, they all face the same challenge - moving their bosses from old school to new.

More and more, I'm convinced that we should be working with these internal communicators to target business leaders. At present, very few internal communicators have sufficient influence at the top table. Too many CEOs treat their internal comms teams as production houses and give insufficient time and ear-space to the opinions of their internal communicators. Yet they're quite prepared to listen to voices from outside their organisation - especially if we don't call ourselves communication consultants.

When I talk to an organisation as part of a change or business consultancy team, I seem to get far better results - even though I'm doing the same as I ever do with my 'comms' hat on.

It's clear internal comms is being seen as having more business value now - but it's still well down the ladder. I think the tipping point will come when the clever, bright and articulate new wave of internal comms managers finally get into conversations with CEOs about change, leadership and business direction rather than profile pieces for the next newsletter.....

Anyway, I must get back to that next City profile piece.......gotta pay the bills, eh?

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