Could you remove the divide between internal communication and PR in your organisation? Is it possible to integrate a communication team to focus on the content being produced rather than the function?
Both of these things are possible, and The Post Office here in the UK is working on this right now.
The Post Office is the UK’s largest retail network and the largest financial services chain in the UK, with more branches than all of the UK’s banks and building societies put together.
They have over 370 years of service, more than 170 products and services plus 11,500 Post Office branches nationwide. Every week they’re visited by approximately 17 million customers who carry out 47 million transactions.
Over to you Mark…
How to integrate your communication team
It is a communications challenge to savour: a vibrant and compelling range of content from one of the most iconic brands around. And target audiences which are spread far and wide, with different needs and varying levels of engagement.
At the same time we have an obligation in tough market conditions and unsurprisingly tight budgets to demonstrate value in what we do.
So we’ve decided to shake things up.
Out with the traditional split between PR and internal communications, and all its challenges. And in with an approach which puts content before function.
Our People and Transformation Communications team will focus on what we believe will be one of the business turnaround stories of the decade. And in a complex stakeholder environment, including industrial relations, politics and regulatory oversight, that means looking at every issue in the round: engaging our people on the one hand but also preparing for external challenge at the same time.
So no internal team on one side of the room and an external team elsewhere. Tweet this
And our Campaigns team will be devoted to promoting our products internally and externally: our growing financial services business and the challenges in the mails market, for instance.
That will mean engaging consumer PR approaches as much as building internal engagement for the ways in which our product teams are innovating and motivating the front line in branches.
These teams will sit alongside colleagues working on public affairs, policy and comms planning. And crucially drawing on that expertise to tell stories inside and outside. Tweet this
One Post Office
At the same time we are rationalising the many channels currently used to service distinct audience groups (of which we have many – postmasters and their staff, central teams, directly managed branches, supply chain and more) and focusing effort on a “One Post Office” approach.
A new digital hub, interactive and updated daily, will be available to all, and generated through an editorial approach focused on generating the best content.
When it comes to content, we have plenty to draw on. And our newsroom principles will be founded on what will provide context, generate interest and a wow factor: not on the basis of “putting out a comms”.
At the same time, as you’d expect, we will measure how well it is working, drive out distractions and maximise opportunities (simpler but louder, if you like).
This presents mouth-watering development opportunities for a team of communicators which is already outstanding.
For those who’ve specialised in internal there is the chance to work on PR or stakeholder issues, and vice versa.
It is also, inevitably, breaking down silos and promoting cross-team working, and any sense of a hierarchy of communications disciplines: the content is what matters.
It’s early days. The new site is launched next month, the teams are forming. But we are convinced it will work: our business is a vibrant, rapidly changing place – and honest, engaging content which aids understanding around all our challenges and opportunities is critical to the success of our transformation.
Post author: Mark Davies, Communications and Corporate Affairs Director, Post Office.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Mark, I wish you the best of luck as you start to transition. Do please write an update for readers of the All Things IC blog soon to let us know how you’re getting on.
What do I think?
I was part of a panel at yesterday’s CIPR Inside annual IC conference and the topic of integrating comms teams came up (which led to a series of Tweets and DMs between Mark and I, which resulted in this article being written).
For me it’s all about consistency. Particularly when thinking about messaging. What it’s like to be an employee should match up to your external material and brand promises.
Communication is at the heart of this.
You should be working alongside your external comms colleagues already, in the same way you do with other parts of the business. But I’ve witnessed myself the typical bun fights that break out inside companies with everyone scrabbling for content and budget.
I expect to see more companies integrating over time. That’s not to say we don’t respect each other’s skill sets, as Mark pointed out – it’s about opportunities to work on something new.
This slide from John Neilson @flyingjok at yesterday’s conference looked at future comms trends and integration:
— Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC) October 13, 2015
You can read my initial thoughts on yesterday’s CIPR Inside IC conference via my blog, plus see the slides I used in my presentation.
Further reading: I first blogged about integrating teams back in 2013 and how theblueballroom agency had removed its int/ext divide.