Internal-External Convergence: We Can Lead

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.


Selected Publications

Changing The Terms is a new site where I am mainly focused on sharing new thinking, but I am also keen to share some of my other items which I have published in recent years, mainly on external sites.

Lessons from Lincoln

This 2013 article on how following some principles Abraham Lincoln outlined in 1840 to drive social and lateral communication in 2014 and beyond was published in the EACD’s Communication Director Magazine


Social Networks without Digital Social Machinery

A look at how to understand and leverage informal social networks in organisations regardless of whether the organisation is willing to invest in online social network tools is incorporated in this piece for the US-based Ragan Report.


Internal Comms:  Moving the debate forward

A piece on my old blog engaging leading internal communication advocates like Shel Holtz and David Murray with my own thoughts about the future direction of the internal communication profession


IABC:  A new mission, a new model

I have been a member of the International Association of Business Communicators since 2012.  I have often been critical of its leadership and direction, I believe it remains a massive resource and the best vehicle for creating a better professional environment for the world’s communication professionals.  This piece raised challenges to the Association’s business model and mission, challenges which Association leaders are beginning to address.


Staying inside the tent:  Supporting My Associations

An earlier piece about IABC and the other associations I’ve been a participant in.


Social Media to drive convergence of internal, external and social media?

A 2010 piece on the potential for social media to catalyse the convergence of internal and external communication.


Internal Communications 3.0:  Workforce Citizenship

An approach to employee engagement which recognises the employee as more of a “citizen” of an organisation rather than a “customer” or a “supplier”