Most internal communications people I know would love to have more resource in their team. (Let’s be honest, some would simply like to have a team or even an internal comms-focussed job description.) These internal comms professionals know that even a small increase in head count could enable them to make a bigger difference to their organisations.
Of course, many internal communicators are working in a very different context from where they were at the start of this year: covid, lockdown and plans for returning to work have changed many things, including how organisations communicate with their people. Leaders are starting to recognise that internal comms resource is not simply a fluffy, nice-to-have. But at the same, income has dropped dramatically for many organisations and funding will remain a challenge for a long time to come.
So how do you move beyond the beginnings of understanding and make your case for investment that will support your organisation in the uncertain future?
1. Make it really clear how effective internal communication will support the strategic goals of your organisation as we move into a still-uncertain future.
This is about making a strong business case, with the emphasis on ‘business’. You have to show how internal communication contributes to what the organisation is actually doing and is not a box-ticking exercise serving its own ends.
For one client, I put together a table with the left-hand column listing the strategic goals and the right side explaining how better communication would contribute. Immediately the senior team could see how internal communication would benefit the things that mattered to them (the objectives).
2. Refer to resources which demonstrate the skills and knowledge available and required in our profession.
Often, even when senior teams understand how better internal communication could make a difference, they don’t fully grasp what that looks like in practice. They don’t know the skills that are required.
If their EA sends out emails, why can’t he put together a newsletter too?
It is important to present internal communication as a serious discipline and not just a fluffy, nice to have which is easy to dismiss as an optional extra. When your senior team have a better understanding of the professional skills required, it will be clearer to them that investment should be taken seriously too.
It can be a powerful exercise to benchmark the skills you currently have and to assess where you have gaps. This enables you to paint a picture of what is currently possible and what more could be done with more resource.
The Institute of Internal Communication profession map is a really useful tool for doing this and last year I helped a client to use it. The exercise fed into their internal conversations about resource and investment.
3. Pick a project and make it count.
When it is hard for senior teams to envisage what they would get from more resource, you can demonstrate how much difference fully effective internal communication can make by going all out with support for a specific project.
For example, this could be the ‘recovery’ plans that all organisations will have on their agenda in the coming months or another specific project such as the launch of a new fundraising campaign.
You can show that with more resource you would have time to complete more internal comms activities to this level, rather than rushing with a smaller team that is spread too thin.
A few years ago I worked with a client to provide this fuller picture to their senior team in relation to a high profile values project. By experiencing what it would be like to have more in-depth support, executive teams usually feel more inclined to invest.
Make no mistake, I’m not saying that it is easy to get more resource for internal comms, especially in the current uncertain times. But by using data and insight, practical demonstrations and examples of best practice elsewhere, it can be done.
I’d love to hear your experiences of asking for more internal comms resource at your organisations.
Until next time