Why Internal Communication is important to Brand and Reputation Building

Internal Comms

By: Gifty Bingley

An effective internal communication strategy is important to any successful organisation. It is significant to the people agenda – providing information, engagement, education and inspiration.  It is key to team building.

Often than not, we prioritise communication to customers, shareholders, government officials, communities, vendors and suppliers but not among ourselves as an entire organisation or part of an organisation.

There are several tools and channels that make it easy to manage internal communications. You can develop your own or buy various software including SnapComms, Communifire and Yammer just to mention a few. You can also go from e-newsletters, emails, wall papers, screen savers, posters, SMS and intranet etc. There are also the one-to-group engagements – including staff durbars, roadshows and inter-departmental competitions, etc. Again, depending on the specific objective, you could go from branded content to personalized gifts.

As professionals managing a company’s reputation, the following are some of reasons why we need to pay attention to internal communication.

They are our first brand ambassadors

Employees represent our organisation – unofficially they are the spokespersons and brand ambassadors. They are the first point of contact for friends and family and anyone who wants to know more about the organisation. We do ourselves a lot of disservice when we take them for granted. As a rule, any communication that will go out to customers and the public should first be shared in-house. When people (including customers and potential employees) want additional information, beyond what is on our website and social media pages, they call friends and family that work in our organisations. The feedback they receive often carries more weight than what the commercials in the media say.

Creating an engaging work place and sense of higher purpose

As employees, we all want to know and understand the goal of the organisation, the plan to achieving it and most importantly how we can contribute. How can we achieve such targets if we don’t communicate consistently with staff including sharing the various KPIs and or milestones? It is important to rally everybody towards the goal.

People love to read about themselves, their colleagues and teams, a well-executed internal communication strategy makes us feel we are on the path to greatness in our organisation. It creates a sense of belonging, unity and or community. It reduces working in silos and employee turnover in some cases. When we are well informed about the vision and what others are working on, we collaborate better and support each other.

Keeping the brand promise and satisfying customers

Employees are executioners of the brand purpose. A good brand purpose enables us to differentiate and connect emotionally to our customers. Well informed, educated and engaged employees often feel empowered and this is reflected in how they work –  attentive and supportive to the needs of our customers/stakeholders. They embody the brand purpose and promise and would go the extra mile to do an excellent job.

Staying in control of the narrative

Like any human institution the rumour mill is always buzzing. Are they selling, are they merging, is the CEO leaving, is the strategy and direction changing? It goes on and on… I am not saying we need to respond to everything, not at all. Sometimes silence can also be a strategy – if we have considered the options, risks and consequences thereof. Some rumour can be unsettling though and could affect employee morale and performance. As an organisation, it is important to be transparent and stay in control of the narrative. Internal communication can proactively reduce the rumour mill and take control of the narrative by keeping employees informed and updated.

It is important to crises management

Most organisations have a core Crises Management or Business Continuity Team which often includes a Communications professional.  When there is a crisis, the priority is to clean up the situation and communicate to external stakeholders – customers, investors, and the media. Employees should be part of the stakeholders; they are bound to be even more worried and or confused. It is important to engage them – they are the ones going to manage the crises and implement the next steps. Remember what I said above about employees being brand ambassadors? It also helps to stay in control of the narrative including what they say unofficially to friends, family and customers.

From experience, internal communication has a way of keeping everybody together especially in very challenging times. By sharing information on the incident, the next steps and preventive measures we are all aligned and have a united front.

In conclusion, I am not saying that internal communication is the perfect solution to all employee-related issues. Far from it, internal communication should be part of the broader Employee Engagement Strategy which includes compensation and benefits, learning and development etc.

Often when I engage with my colleagues in communication roles they ask where it should sit – HR or Corporate Communications. I don’t think it matters – it depends on where the role can get great support and the capabilities to deliver tangible results.

I would also like to emphasise that creating the role does not necessarily guarantee success, we need to think through the competencies of the person(s) who handle the role. Some of the gaps can be fixed through learning and development.

PR Ghana Networking Event slated for 26th May

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F Project will host a PR/Communications Industry networking and cocktail event on Friday, 26th May, 2017 at Villa Monticello Hotel, allowing industry professionals in Ghana, an opportunity to connect, engage and reflect on the role of communications in Africa’s development.
This event will be one of concurrent meetings around the world, as part of the 1st annual Africa Communications Week (ACW), which takes place between May 22 and May 26 2017. Countries such as Nigeria, India, Belgium, South Africa, and Kenya will have similar networking events to dialogue on the role of communications in Africa’s development

Powered by a virtual international team of multi-talented communications professionals who share a vision for transformative change in Africa through strategic communications and in partnership with the World Communication Forum Association, Africa Communications Week’s key objective is to encourage and engage communicators across the board to critically assess how the communication industry impacts Africa’s development.

ACW is open to all communicators with an expertise/interest in Africa, from African countries and across the globe. “Along with other fields such as economics, agriculture and technology, communications now has the opportunity to position itself and demonstrate its relevance as a real management discipline that contributes significantly to Africa’s socio-economic rise. And this is a collective effort that the industry should lead”, explains co-founder Annie Mutamba.

The Africa Communications Week is supported by an advisory board of seasoned communications professionals passionate about changing Africa’s narrative. They include:
  • Wynne Musabayana, Head of Communications, Africa Union
  • Yana Dubeykovskaya, President World Communication Forum Association
  • Moky Makura, Country Representative South Africa, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Mimi Kalinda, MD Africa Communication Group
  • Khalid Baddou, Head of Communication Africa, Western Union
  • Thierry Hot, Founder, Rebranding Africa Forum
  • Tidiane Dioh, Fonctionnaire International & Media specialist
ACW’s special report on the role of communications in Africa’s development will be published annually featuring the research and informed opinions of communication experts from over 40 countries.

ACW also promotes knowledge and professional development by hosting informative webinars and masterclasses as well as providing practical tools on how Africa focused communicators can begin to advance more realistic narratives about Africa.

“It’s time to critically assess our role and impact and take more deliberate actions to shaping Africa’s narrative,” says ACW co-founder Eniola Harrison.

Source: Cypress Entertainment

E’April Public Relations to organise first Women in Public Relations Ghana seminar

WIPR Ghana Seminar

E’April Public Relations, an Accra-based PR Agency in partnership with the Institute of Public Relations (IPR), Ghana will organise a one (1) day Women in Public Relations Ghana seminar.

The seminar which is premised on the theme “Empowering Today’s PR Woman”, will be the first of its kind in country. It will seek to provide an avenue for women in Public Relations, Communications and the media industry to discuss and deliberate on issues around the profession.

Speaking on the upcoming seminar, Founder of the event, Ms. Faith Senam Ocloo, indicated that the seminar will be an annual event which will be aimed at creating a platform for top PR Women professionals to educate, equip and empower young PR professionals and students in their chosen fields.

“Women in PR Ghana Seminar is dedicated towards mentoring the next generation of young PR and communication professionals who are confident of the skills they have acquired and well equipped to deliver when and wherever they find themselves”, she said.

Ms. Ocloo intimated that the Public Relations profession around the world is evidently dominated by women, with women inclusive at every level except for the very top which is typically reserved for men.

“The Women in PR Ghana Seminar will work towards bridging the gap and mentoring the younger generation to be ready and able to take up leadership roles in their various organizations” Ms Ocloo added

The Women in PR Ghana seminar will have renowned PR Women speaking on topics such as choosing a career in PR, pitching and building media relationship, social media for today’s PR woman, rising up the corporate ladder among others. It will also involve panel discussions on issues concerning the profession and personal branding.

The Women in PR Ghana seminar is scheduled to take place on Saturday 1st July, 2017 from 9:00am to 4:00pm at the World Trade Center and will gather several PR students and professionals across various industries and organizations.

For further information and enquires, email at womeninprghana@gmail.com and follow Women in PR Ghana on all social media pages.

A rewarding career in Corporate Communication

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By: Gifty Bingley

Over the past few months, I have taken up some speaking engagements at the Ghana Institute of Journalism about a career in Communications. Outside the office hours, I am also mentoring two young ladies that have just started their careers in Internal Communication and Public Affairs. We meet once a month to talk through some of their projects and what the next steps should be. I have also volunteered as a communications consultant for some start-ups.

A career in Corporate Communications is very rewarding and fulfilling – no two campaigns or projects are the same and you often get to think and execute outside the proverbial box. The objectives, strategy and tactics are always different and depending on the target audience, product/service, budget … you can switch it up or down.

It is also exciting because it offers various specialized roles including Internal/Employee Communication and Engagements, Public Relations – this could include government relations, policy formulation and analysis or both, Corporate Social Responsibility/Social Investment and more recently Social Media/Digital engagements.

Often I find myself and members of the team in different roles other than our job titles and this varies from project to project.

Together as a team/department our single most important focus is to build a great reputation that drives a positive business climate for the organisation.

The bottom line for every business is to deliver value for shareholders. How do we deliver such value if there is no deliberate plan to building a great reputation for the business among various stakeholders?

This is summed up by the famous American Business leader, John Rockefeller, that “next to doing the right thing the most important thing is to let people know that you are doing the right thing.”

Employees need to know that you are doing the right thing, customers need to know and so do other stakeholders including the communities where we operate, regulators, government, shareholders, potential employees, etc.

And there are various ways of keeping these people informed, right from newsletters to press conferences, op-ed, roadshows, town-halls through to social media channels. Increasingly we need to think through our plans and develop compelling content.

It is not an easy job though especially for people who like to sit still. With the range of content, contacts and relations that we need to build including media, events and speaking engagements for senior executives, it is impossible to sit still unless you have an agency on a monthly retainer. Even then my suggestion is that you still go ahead to engage so that you can effectively add-on and support the agency.

Again, you would struggle if you are not open to learning new ways of communicating and measuring success. I will be honest here, what I used to practice in 2010 is far different from now, so much has changed including some of the tools and channels that I used to work with. It is constantly evolving. Like it or not, digital and social media has completely changed our relationship with the public and how we communicate with them and vice versa. The emphasis is ‘engagement’ rather than the ‘filter down theory’.

Like every job though, you need to work hard and consistently put in your very best to be successful. You would certainly love your role if you are passionate, very creative and resourceful, dedicated and committed and most importantly have integrity.

I transitioned from broadcast journalism to this field and it’s been very exciting. I have learnt a lot by reading, learning on the job – from line managers and colleagues. I often ask a lot of questions and I am not afraid to ask for help from colleagues and mentors. I also have a small group of friends who share ideas, discuss various strategies and tactics and I would certainly recommend joining bigger networks such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, UK and the  Institute of Public Relations, Ghana – the continuous professional development programmes have been amazing.

More and more business leaders in Ghana appreciate the value that we add to the business strategy and I certainly think it’s a great time to be a part of this profession.