Why are employee communication practitioners the “heart and soul” of an organisation, and why do they need a hig
h threshold of pain? Ross Monaghan finds out in this special “employee communication” edition of theMediaPod.
Ross talks with two North American-based internal communication practitioners, David Murray and Ron Shewchuk.
David Murray is the Editor-in-Chief of Ragan’s Journal of Employee Communications. He says the role of employee communication practitioner has never been more difficult. After 15 years of downsizing, he says that practitioners are trying to come to grips with new social media.
“You used to have print, video and photography, now [employee communicators] are dealing with a situation where they are kind of running Rupert Murdoch’s media empire on a corporate communication budget,” David says.
“There are so many choices in terms of media, and there is so much new stuff to learn…ultimately I think it’s going to be a great thing because I think a lot of the new social media is going to help us to great things again, but in the short term it’s been a bit of a distraction – fighting with IT people and trying to learn the stuff ourselves. I think it’s a challenging time for practitioners all round.”
David disputes calls that practitioners aren’t embracing the technology quickly enough.
“I think practitioners are embracing technology as quickly as they can. Remember a communicators job is never done outside this steep learning curve – and there is so much to learn.”
Canadian Ron Shewchuk, ABC, is passionate about employee communication and the importance of more tradition media such as written publications.
Author of “Writing and Editing the Internal Publication”, Ron believes employee communication practitioners are the “heart and soul” of an organisation.
“As internal communicators, everything we say, everything we communicate is essentially defining our organisation and its culture,” Ron says.
“The tone that you set, the words that you use are all creating the culture in which you live and work.”
And communicating well is just plain good for business according to Ron.
“Companies that care about communicating, and engage, with employees do better at business…I think it’s something that gets forgotten a lot of the time. It gets put on the backburner, and there are a range of business issues that take precedence over effective communications, but I think in the long-term employees and businesses suffer because of it.”
To be an effective practitioner, you need a strong stomach, a good heart, and high pain threshold Ron jokes.
“I think that it’s one of the most satisfying and frustrating fields you can go into.
â€œWhen you do something really well in internal communication you can make a real measurable difference in the workplaceâ€¦There is a certain magical quality about being able to connect people.”
Ronâ€™s book â€œWriting and Editing the Internal Publicationâ€ is av ailable online.
Whilst youâ€™re there, check out the new MyRagan.com site. Itâ€™s like MySpace for professional communicators. Well worth joining! It’s still in “beta” stage, but more than 2,000 communicators have jointed already, including me. It’s free, and a great resource for communicators.