Internal communications (IC) is a crucial function in any medium or large-sized company.
But where does it sit within an organisation?
Research suggests that opinions are mixed among industry professionals, who acknowledge that IC involves elements of marketing and HR but also feel that it is suitably important to stand out as an individual function in its own right.
Ultimately, IC experts need to combine parts of both roles if they are to drive up engagement and connect strongly with employees.
The skills used by marketers to grab the attention of potential consumers are arguably similar to those used in IC to link up with staff, whether they do this through an internal newsletter, an intranet site or an external event set up for company employees.
Telling the right narrative is especially important here, as generating a unified message that connects employees with disparate backgrounds and skill-sets is one of the most difficult roles incorporated in the IC function.
However, other marketing challenges such as choosing appropriate media, defining the correct value proposition and finding an appropriate call to action are also involved in effective internal comms.
In stressing this aspect of the job, it is important not to disregard its HR-focused aspects. Ultimately, IC involves connecting with the people who work at an organisation, which is in some ways the remit of the HR department.
Gary Cattermole, director of the Survey Institute, recently suggested that employers need to become more open in the way that they collect data from employees, as doing so can ensure they know the best way in which to connect with their staff.
Writing for Training Zone, he also argued that analysing this kind of information should become an increasingly important function for HR employees over the coming 12 months.
HR teams across the globe have built up their engagement teams lately in a bid to improve productivity and prevent employees from leaving for pastures new, with IC playing a major role in building the necessary connections.
Fundamentally it doesn't matter where IC is situated within an organisation, or even if it is considered a department unto itself, as long as its practitioners are sufficiently skilled and have the funding they need to carry out their role effectively.
Employees must be able to form collaborative relationships with their colleagues in the marketing and HR teams, as well as developing a sufficiently broad-based skill-set to understand the crucial elements involved in both positions.