It is something that will differ in every organisation, how does leadership perceive Internal Communications? Every business will have a different expectation and understanding; IC is a function that will have different objectives in different businesses.

I read with interest how Internal Communications is perceived by leaders in 2011 in the VMA professional development survey. The results were broken down as follows:

Key advocates for IC: 30%

Supportive but not key advocates: 38%

Understand IC: 23%

Not supportive of IC: 9%

The key question for me based on these results is how IC practitioners manage leadership perception so that the overall % of key advocates increases year on year.

Part of that will be an evolutionary process as engagement becomes a key part of business strategy. Key advocacy for IC has already increased from 19% in 2009 to 30% in 2011. But, there is still more work to do in raising the profile of Internal Communications to business leaders.

For Internal Communications to be fully effective, it needs the buy in of leaders. For those IC functions that have 100% commitment from leadership; the impact on overall engagement can be significant.

Some organisations struggle to make the distinction between IC as a delivery mechanism and a strategic function that can influence change and engagement. Internal Communications should have long since left behind its tag as a ‘postman’; it is an outdated and archaic view of the function. But the perception will still exist to some.

Internal Communications should be the facilitator for conversation in a business; it is a mechanism for influencing the business, defining culture, driving change, and increasing engagement. All of these things are essential to the growth and prosperity of a business; so how do you translate the strategic impact of IC into language leaders will understand?

Some leaders will perceive that Internal Communications is a ‘fluffy’ business function, a nice to have. It can be seen as a non-essential relative of HR; that has no real impact on the bottom line.

When I talk about Internal Communications to business leaders I now try and shift the conversation away from people and translate into commercial benefit. Internal Communications can influence engagement, and high engagement can impact the bottom line. More businesses are beginning to see the link between engagement and profitability. That can only benefit leadership perception of Internal Communications.

I wrote a blog recently on five reasons why high engagement increases bottom line. This is the pitch I make to leaders when selling in the concept of IC.

It is encouraging to see leadership advocacy for IC increasing, but there is a role to play for IC practitioners in translating the benefit of IC into a commercial outcome.

I am really encouraged that the evolution of Internal Communications is now very much around driving engagement. That can only benefit the perception of IC as being a critical business function that is a strategy enabler and facilitator for conversation.

As the function continues to evolve, I expect the trend will continue to shift towards leaders becoming key advocates for Internal Communications.

Related blogs:
The evolution of Internal Communications

Find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thank-you to VMA Group for supplying the data and insight for this blog. All facts can be found in full report: http://vmagroup.com/brochures/ic-survey-2011/

VMA Group: http://www.vmagroup.com/

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