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Refreshing the Role of Internal Communications: A critical business response to our quickly changing


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Internal communications has a vital role to play in driving the value of business relationships. …

Internal communications has a vital role to play in driving the value of business relationships.

Amidst tighter wallets and shrinking budgets, the need for businesses to make the most of their marketing manpower is stronger than ever.

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  • 1. Refreshing the role of internal communications: A critical business response to our quickly changing times Francesca Brosan, Chairman, Omobono Limited. February 2010 OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  • 2. Times have changed. Internal communications are critical to the way in which companies need to respond. Internal communications has The recession has put the This promotion-centric view of a vital role to play in driving marketing community in a marketing and internal the value of business difficult place. With increasing communications is the one that relationships. pressures on budgets, and from is challenged in the research boards demanding proof of ROI, recently undertaken by The marketers have found Judge Business School, of themselves having to answer Cambridge University, on behalf the question, „what does a of Omobono, the digital B2B marketer do without any communications agency. budget?‟ Omobono‟s belief, that it is Internal communicators face the relationships that drive business same predicament. Like many and that the ultimate role of marketing disciplines, internal marketing is to drive those communications budgets are relationships, was examined pulled when times get tough and against both academic theory departmental staff follow shortly and business practice. What afterwards. emerged supported Omobono‟s belief in the need and benefits of looking at an organisation‟s relationships holistically in order to increase their value. This view, coined Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM) by Omobono, had some major implications for the role of the internal communicator. OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  • 3. ERM research puts internal Omobono has been working This disconnect means that as a communications centre with corporate clients since its result, and far too often, internal stage inception in 2001 to increase communications as a function internal engagement with sits low down in the food chain, corporate objectives and struggling to make senior believes it is a key contributor to management aware of its critical business success. contribution. As Harvard Business Review The Judge Business School put it: research, which looked at ERM across three sectors (service, ‘“It is a truth of business that public sector and if employees do not care manufacturing), found a need about their company, they will for far more importance to be in the end contribute to its placed on the internal demise.” 1 communications function. But increasingly this represents a backward looking view of the role of internal communications - one in which the function is there simply to communicate whatever it is that the organization has already decided to do. Effectively, internal communications teams are involved in conveying the message, but not in developing the strategy behind it. OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  • 4. Relationships matter in The research, conducted with However, the critical business senior marketers within a dozen relationships are not just those world class companies, between an organization and its confirmed that relationships are customers, but between the central to the success of organization and its workforce, business. As Hakansson & its suppliers and a wider Ford expressed it in 2002: stakeholder group. (see Fig 1) “The overall performance of a Whilst success depends on how company will depend on how good the relationship is, this is in well they are able to manage turn influenced by how well it is 2 their own relationships.” . managed by the organization. As Professor Evert Gummesson of Stockholm Business School and father of relationship marketing puts it, “The quality and nature of the relationship depends on the quality of the interaction process.”3 Fig. 1 Source: Morgan, R.M. and Hunt, D.H. (1994)4 OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  • 5. Managing relationships As the research also confirmed, And if success in the future relies on the ability to use success depends on the relies on marketing being not everyone as part time interaction being an ongoing just a job for the marketing process right across the department, then marketers company, not the province of communications is not the only one particular department such thing internal as marketing or sales. This is communicators should be doing. an approach also propounded by Gummesson, who goes on Service is what‟s driving the to break down the contributors economy to the interaction into „FTMs‟ (full time marketers) and „PTMs‟ Another key insight revealed by (part time marketers). the JBS/Omobono research project was the impact of the Looking at success through the shift towards a service economy lens of Enterprise Relationship on every business sector, Management it is clear that demanding a new set of internal communicators have a behaviours and a new marketing significant contribution to make, approach. Businesses, then, are working with senior not pushing a product but co- management to ensure that creating value by sharing these „PTMs‟ are aligned behind knowledge, service systems and organizational goals. networks across their relationships. (Fig. 2) Fig. 2 Source: Godson, M (2009)5 OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  • 6. The need to share Whilst each of the sectors This presents the internal knowledge across the surveyed by Omobono had communications function with an organization is common to specific issues they needed to opportunity to set up structures address in terms of how their which enable knowledge all sectors. relationship focus would need to sharing, becoming the deliverers change in response to this of corporate strategy, not simply market shift, the need to share the people that tell employees knowledge across the about it. (Fig. 3) organisation was common to all. In fact, this sharing is critical in Public Sector order to deliver an improved experience to customers, staff Not-for-profit organisations and other key strategic meanwhile typically have a partners,. functional structure where each department specialises in Fig. 3 providing a particular service to customers. The key problem with this structure is that Source: Omobono 2009 different departments hardly Service interact with each other. Customers on the other hand, For service organisations, want a one-stop shop from knowledge is the fundamental which they can receive all the source of competitive advantage services they need. This is so the ability to share driving public sector information across the organisations to reorganize, organisation is paramount. aligning to deliver to customer needs, rather than according to But knowledge is not simply government funding or legacy about knowing something. It is structures. also having the application skills to put action into practice. OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  • 7. Fig. 4 Source: Omobono 2009 This new partnership working is Manufacturing This is a sea of change for many not something public sector in the sector as it relies heavily organisations are well versed in, In the manufacturing sector on the company‟s ability to and again the opportunity is for goods have become share. Internal communicators internal communicators to take commoditised, leaving will be needed not simply to tell the lead in putting structures in manufacturers constantly in employees what‟s going on but place to share knowledge and search of new value to instil new ways of working, processes across the propositions in a highly interacting and behaving. organisation. (Fig. 4) competitive global market. (Fig. 5) Service propositions in which partnerships are formed with suppliers and end customers are taking over from simply transforming materials. In order to do this they need to a work not only with internal departments, but with external partners, as well as to funnel knowledge back into the organization in order to be able to deliver the service again for the customer. Fig. 5 Source: Omobono 2009 OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  • 8. In conclusion Relationships are central to business success and are driven by the quality of the interaction right across the company. Critical to this, is ability to successfully share knowledge and build relationships across the organisation, connecting marketing with sales, key account teams or HR, and aligning everyone behind service delivery to customers. Viewed in the context of how important enterprise relationships are for the future success of businesses and public sector organisations in the service world, internal communicators are critical; moving out of the space in which they only think about the techniques of communication to one where they directly contribute to what needs to be done. 1. Harvard Business Review January 2002 2. Hakansson, H. and Ford, D. (2002)“How should companies interact in business networks?” Journal of Business Research, 55(2), 133 3. Gummesson, E. (2008) Total Relationship Marketing, Elsevier Ltd Oxford 4. Morgan, R.M. and Hunt, D.H. (1994) “The Commitment-Trust Theory of Relationship Marketing”, Journal of Marketing, Vol.58 (July 1994), 20-38. 5. Godson, M (2009) Relationship Marketing, Oxford University Press OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |
  • 9. Relationships drive your business. We drive your relationships. ERM® helps world class organisations drive value from their business relationships by examining the ways they interact with their customers, partners and staff; and how that is measured to help achieve organisational goals, deliver to customers and create mutual value. We look largely at the contribution online technologies can play, and how companies can maximise value from the infrastructure put in place over the past 5 – 10 years. By exploring Francesca Brosan is Chairman alternative approaches to improving and Founder of Omobono Limited, B2B marketing effectiveness, ERM the digital communications services enables us to think about marketing company. A former Board Director differently, to put it back to its of WCRS, her career has spanned original place; where marketing has consumer advertising, PR, live a meaning and purpose beyond events and digital. She now communication and becomes a focuses on B2B strategy for the business essential, not a business agency’s corporate and public expense. sector clients. Francesca is the author of 3 IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards and is a regular speaker and contributor This whitepaper was previously to marketing forums. featured on the Melcrum Publishing website. nge/casestudies/brosan.shtml OMOBONO LTD, THE WAREHOUSE, 33 BRIDGE STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB2 1UW, UK T +44 (0)1223 307000 | F +44 (0)1223 365167 |