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Is connecting internal and external the next critical step for integrated communications?

Paul HutchingsMany marcomms agencies have evolved from being single channel or audience specialists to offering a broader, integrated service.

This is to achieve more meaningful programmes for clients, in order to go beyond producing outputs (nice adverts, great headlines, etc) and instead deliver real outcomes that change behaviours. It’s a simple sounding concept, but certainly easier said than done to deliver well. However, is there another dimension to integrated communications that we should also be focusing on in equal measure - integrating internal communications with external communications strategies?

We are all familiar with statements like ‘our people are the heart of our business’ and ‘our people are our biggest asset’. Well, there is now a growing body of evidence to confirm there is a clear link between engaged employees and overall organisational performance.

One study demonstrated an 18% increase in productivity among those with high employee engagement scores compared to companies with disengaged employees and a 50% reduction in staff sick days compared to those with disengaged employees.

That is perhaps predictable, but what is more impressive is the link to external engagement and overall business performance. The same study saw a 12% increase in customer satisfaction and 2.5x the revenue growth compared to companies with lower employee engagement scores.

HR teams have long been espousing the connection made here and employee engagement is of course multifactoral.

So where does good communications practice come in? Internal communications has a leading role when it comes to employee engagement as it connects the dots between the business and its staff, but also increasingly its customer base.

Unfortunately, however, internal communications is often seen as the poorer cousin to external communications, and quite often sits in isolation with the HR department, while the communications teams focus on the external stakeholder landscape.

As a discipline, insiders are quick  to admit that it is sometimes a  less sophisticated operation than the external communications effort and could benefit from taking a more insight-led, outcomes-focused approach. And certainly, there is merit in bringing the two disciplines of internal and external communications together, from both strategic and operational perspectives.

We often argue that a company’s brand ‘must live inside before it can effectively be championed outside’. This is even truer for those business sectors that are service-based.

The marcomms agency industry has long known this to be true, and as pharma continues its evolution from a pharmaceutical product supplier model to a healthcare solutions provider, the same importance will surely be felt more keenly. It’s the next challenge in the journey to truly integrated communications.

Paul Hutchings is associate director at Pegasus

In association with

Pegasus

1st June 2018

From: Marketing

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