It’s that time of year again, the time when everyone starts making predictions around what they see as the main themes in Internal Comms for this year. There’s hundreds of articles currently doing the rounds on Twitter. A few people I follow on Twitter contributed to an article by Simply Communicate which I liked, so I thought I’d throw my two-penneth in and have a think about what I see as the main trends for Internal Comms this year.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m about to introduce any ground breaking ideas, most comms people have similar thoughts on what the future is, but hopefully the reasoning behind my picks will give you something to think about, if so let me know by commenting or dropping me a tweet!
My trends for 2013:
- Measurement – Call it ROI if you want, but either way it’s time that Internal Communicators are fully able to show the benefits of what they do. The phrase ‘you can’t measure engagement’ simply isn’t true and doesn’t pass for acceptable any more. Every channel/message you create should start with how can you show the benefit of it. If you can’t show the benefit of it, then there isn’t one and you shouldn’t be doing it!
- Adding value faster than cost -This sort of falls in with measurement but I think it’s important enough to be it’s own focus. This isn’t just strictly a comms thing either…the economy is still in the gutter and companies are looking at ways to get the most profit without adding any extra cost. In situations like this, and even though it’s completely the wrong thing to do, a lot of companies see employees as a quick way to cut cost. So it’s vital that comms functions are able to justify the work they do and show that it provides significant value to the business. We all know that it does, but how can you justify spending money on an intranet when there’ll be no clear income benefit to it? How about showing that with a properly structured intranet you can cut down the time it takes for employees to find something which in turn makes them more productive and able to focus on providing benefit to the business?
- Gamification – Is there a bigger buzzword in the world of communication right now? I can’t think of one! Everyone is looking at game theory and how gaming can help engagement. The principles around it are sound and the idea is brilliant, but in practice I think we’ll see lots of examples of how not to do gamification in the next 12 months, with a couple of very good examples. Those companies will become the case studies and show pieces at conferences across the country, and we’ll all be ‘copying’ their ideas come 2014! Could you be that good example? We’re currently looking at some gamification options at KCOM, which are all very exciting and have the potential to do great things. I also think gamification could spell the end of the classical recognition schemes we currently see. If you have a platform which is rewarding people constantly then it ends the need for a monthly popularity contest.
- Be a trusted advisor -It’s not enough any more for comms teams to just write messages and manage channels. They have to be the voice of the employee to senior management and challenge where appropriate. However, you can’t do that unless you’re trusted by your senior management and you can only do that by showing you have the knowledge to advise correctly, which you can only get that by knowing what people want. Never assume, get your hands dirty and go and talk to people…find out what makes them tick, what they want from the business and in what format. Then show that by successfully delivering comms and messaging to the wider work place. After time, you won’t even have to initiate the conversation with the senior managers, they’ll come to you.
- Visual communication – Infographics are huge, everyone uses them…too many people use them. But they are loved by many, and they do serve a purpose or getting a sometimes difficult message across in a simple to understand way. I think it’s safe to say that 2013 will see infographics move inside the workplace much more and become the buzzword that people use when they’re talking to you about how they want to communicate to employees. Tie that up with a continued increase in user generated video and more people moving to Prezi rather than PowerPoint and you can expect visual comms to skyrocket this year!
I’m sure I could come up with another 5 but I think those are probably what I see as the top 5. You’ve probably noticed that there’s no mention of intranets, newsletters, posters or in reality (maybe gamification at a push) any standard channels at all. Those things will always be here and I’m sure they’ll develop, but the Communication function can, and should, be so much more than just the team who send newsletters out!
2013 has to be the year that Comms gets serious, whether that’s through qualifications or not it’s no longer acceptable for us to be seen as anything less than a vital business function.