Monday, December 03, 2007

Recognising business value - not the best use of a comma in a built-up area

Once again it's awards season and I'm frustrated as ever by the internal communications industry's abiding fascination with recognising publications - in whatever form they're produced - rather than their business impact.

Whether it's CiB, IABC or any of the other industry award bodies, we're too often judged in a beauty parade on the look and feel of our publications rather than on how they achieve business success and what value they bring to the organisation they represent. That's horribly skewed thinking.

External publications exist to generate sales and turn a nice profit. Therefore, they need to look good and read well to stand out from the competition. They need to understand their audience implicitly and appeal to whatever the instinct is that generates a purchasing decision.

Internal communication is different - for one thing, readers don't pay for that magazine or intranet - and many choose to ignore the content foisted on them. We can't judge these publications in the same terms.

Shouldn't we be looking instead at their objectives within a corporate business strategy and how well they've delivered on those objectives? Wouldn't it be great to be the communicator who could stand up and say 'My communication won an award because we could show how it contributed to my organisation's success.' It's absolutely about understanding the readership and connecting with them - but to a business end, and that's not all about looking sleek and glossy.

An award based on a measure of true, tangible and measurable business value would be far for powerful to me than simply to have picked up a fairly meaningless certificate in a beauty parade.

No comments: