Internal Comms predictions for 2019…

What’s going to be hot over the next 12 months? What will the trends be?

Every year I contribute to various articles in the industry press to share my predictions, so I thought I’d share them here first.

Spoiler: It’s not robots.

I also invited my network to contribute to this article, thank you to everyone who answered my mini survey. If you missed out, do let me know yours by commenting below.

My predictions for trends that are set to stay and grow in 2019 are:

1. Face-to-face

Always. We’ve been trying to recreate it inside organisations with webinars, live-streaming and videos for at least a decade. But nothing beats an in-person conversation without a screen in-between. The value of being able to read body language in the same room, catching the micro expressions and the physical connections we make, speaks volumes.

IN THE AGE OF THE MACHINE, WE NEED TO BE HUMAN NOW MORE THAN EVER. YOU CANNOT BEAT FACE-TO-FACE FOR TRULY EFFECTIVE INTERACTIONS.

I spotted a trend along these lines earlier this year as lots of my clients and comms friends were renaming their Town Halls Face Time. BUT make no mistake, it’s not just for our CEOs and senior leaders to have their faces visible. It’s to enable our leaders to make a physical, emotional, and human connection with our workforce and see their faces. Having your leader physically in a room is tangibly different. Yes of course you can use technology, but you’re trying to replicate face-to-face.

How can you make the most of face-to-face opportunities in your organisation? How can you encourage both your leaders and employees to be more visible? What would the impact be?

There will always be a need for face-to-face communication. When I write my 2029 predictions, I think it will still be on the list. Will it be robot-to-robot? Hmm, unlikely. AI (artificial intelligence) certainly has lots of wonderful uses and application for internal communication, I know I will be writing much more on this in the future and it fascinates me. But for now, many organisations need to focus on getting the basics right.

Further reading: Three technology megatrends you need to know now.

2. Repurposing content

How can you repurpose your IC content so it works harder for you? I’m plotting a blog post on this for early 2019. I’ve been championing it all year with my clients and think it’s an opportunity for IC pros to make the most of in 2019 and beyond.

What does it mean? It’s about thinking about your content in a different way when you start it. For example, as I mentioned in Paul Sutton’s podcast earlier this year, you could take a video, strip out the audio and repurpose it to be an internal podcast.

If you have employees who are unable to watch videos, could they listen to audio such as a podcast? Many organisations are now using podcasts. How can you record audio from company occasions, meetings and employee events and use it in other places?

Your content needs to work hard for you, it’s not about replicating information, but making smart choices with your time.

Auditory learning is on the rise and podcasts are incredibly popular. We’ve used Voice for internal communication for years. From RAC having cassette tapes in their recovery vehicles in the 1980s and 1990s, to recorded information lines in the 1990s and 2000s. Voice isn’t new, but there are now multiple ways to use it. The majority of my household is controlled by Voice, it’s quickly becoming the norm..

Ideas:

I’ve repurposed content on my blog recently. For example, I spoke on a panel at Simply-Communicate’s conference a couple of weeks ago. I had the audio from the session transcribed by WordBee and it was up on my blog in less than 48 hours.

Could you…

  • Use video clips from a Town Hall, overlay with subtitles and display the key takeaways on digital signage?
  • Use quotes from employees in your employee survey in your annual report?
  • Use recognition event statements about employees in your recruitment?
  • Use Yammer/Workplace conversations in your comms channels e.g. highlighting good ideas into a campaign?

The opportunities are endless, I’ll blog more on this topic next year. If you have an example to share about how you repurpose, I’d love to hear from you, do please get in touch.

Further reading: The impact of digital on internal communication.
Further reading: How disruptive tech and culture go together.

3. I’m going to leave this one open

I have many I could fill it with, but I think it’s healthy not to assume you know what the trends will be.

One of the many joys of IC is the opportunity for us to be involved in the shiny new things, but also ensuring traditional methods and channels are honoured and working hard enough. If we are always looking out for a trend, you can miss what is really going on.

Comms pros need to have a forensic understanding of their organisation’s culture and people. It’s our business to know our business. That is a trend to protect and work on every single year to ensure longevity.

I asked my network the following questions. I kept it open for a couple of days and have a snapshot view from 11 professional communicators from around the globe…

1. What trend from 2018 looks set to stay in 2019?

Digital transformation” – Lisa Pantelli, Director, Become. @lisapantelli.

Uncertainty. The current climate is very uncertain and have an impact on the charity sector. Charities will need to be forward thinking next year.” – Nikki Roberts. Head of Communications, Twins and Multiple Births Association. @NikkiRoberts7.

Realisation that investment is needed in internal communication. Within teams and company wide.” – Toni Hall, Internal Communications Manager.

The rise of two-way digital channels, the importance of storytelling” – Ross Tarbard,, Senior Internal Communications Officer, @rosstarbard

“The deliberate distortion of the truth, or the “Fake News” epidemic will unfortunately continue” – Marni Evans Principal, M! Communications @mevans2010.

AI for sure. Also underlining social purpose. Internally and externally. Next how personalisation goes further with current budgets. Owned activities continue to grow. For me, especially crowdsourcing” – Laura Sutherland, Founder and Director, Aura @laurafromaura.

The renaissance of face-to-face and traditional communication methods. The main workforce I lead internal communication for do not want or have an urgent need for digital solutions – they prefer face-to-face or the offline and barriers to digital solutions remain high for a number of reasons” – Bridget Aherne, Director, @BridgetAherne.

“Aside from occasional initiatives like IC Kollectif’s excellent report looking at the current state of the Internal Comms world, there will be few efforts on the industry’s part to make a compelling case to senior management for the value we add. The business case for investment in internal communication will remain fragmented” – Mike Klein, Principal, Changing The Terms @ChangingTerms.

Increased usage of mobile apps to reach non-desk workforce and targeting messages” – Priya Bates, President, Inner Strength Communication Inc. @priyabates

“As per the #QuestionofComms Hot Seat question: Internal Communication is moving to support a more global mindset and will be vital in helping to create new cultures fit for the future in an increasingly volatile world. The quality of leaders and their ability to communicate to their global workforces will be a huge differentiator for organisations and IC professionals have a huge role to play in this transformation. The rapid advancement of technology and the digital landscape, political unrest, new and complex emerging markets and the impact that the evolving workplace will have on the needs of cross-generational workforces are just some of the challenges we need to help our organisations, leaders and teams adapt to and be ready for.” – Chloe Jeffs Global Head of Internal Communications, @chloejeffs.

“Use of video and live-streaming. Survey and interactive poll tools such as Sli.do. More effective use of email” – Harriet Small, Communications Officer @HarrietSmallies.

2. What’s been the biggest barrier for you/your organisation in 2018?

Comms pros were asked to rank these options. These were the choices on the Gatehouse State of the Sector Survey 2018, I’m not surprised to see line manager communication as the biggest barrier in 2018.

3. What’s been the biggest success for you/your organisation in 2018?

I’m so pleased to see communicating business strategy is topping the chart here. What worked well for you in 2018 regarding your business strategy comms?

4. Finally, how will internal comms be viewed in 2019?

This is a scale from Crafters and drafters at 0, to Comms Police at 50 to Trusted Adviser at 100. The Comms pros who answered my survey resulted in 67% being the answer – so between Comms Police and Trusted Adviser.

Does that ring true for you?

Thank you to everyone who contributed to my mini survey over the past couple of days, it is now closed.

What are your predictions for 2019? You’re welcome to comment below or you can find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC. 

Image courtesy of pixabay

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