One topic of ongoing contention in the comms world is that of how the boundaries between internal, external, and social communication are likely to dissolve in the coming years.
The trends are moving in that direction, particularly as communication in all three areas moves towards personal advocacy and away from formal, official messaging.
But internal communicators need not find ourselves at the mercy of those trends, but as leaders driving, shaping and enabling those trends.
With the exception of the most consumer-oriented sectors, companies, markets and communities have common characteristics—a limited group of participants, easily identified, defined by common affiliation (the boundary that makes communication ‘internal’ in nature), and connected by common interests and relationships (the ties which make communication ‘tribal’ in nature).
External communicators have a tendency to see the world as an open space where communication takes place indirectly through brands and media and reporters.
Internal communicators have much greater fluency in communicating directly with stakeholders in ´closed´ spaces.
And even though social media is seen as a great opener of communication, its area of greatest value is in creating enclosed spaces for communities to form and for companies to allow conversation among colleagues and customers and other stakeholders.
Internal communicators have the skills and orientation to drive and accelerate the internal and external convergence. But I sense we lack the confidence.
As a species, we still see ourselves as subordinate, and as practitioners, we see such convergence as out of our ´scope.´ But, by focusing on empowering colleagues to share organisational stories and messages with their own communities through social communication, we become the ones who drive the convergence between internal, external, and social. By doing so strategically, consciously and confidently, we change the terms.