After a bundle of workshops, a new business strategy is finally ready. Congratulations! But to be honest, the real work is still ahead.
Even a brilliant business strategy is very easy to kill before it gets to take off, and the easiest recipe for this is to forget your own people when communicating the strategy. This serious mistake is still, unfortunately, and based on my experience, a common failure in many organizations.
From the comms agency perspective, strategy communication is one of the most asked services we right now have – almost regardless of the geographical market where the client is operating. To discuss this, the Founders and Partners of two separate strategic boutique agencies from different sides of the globe – one from Finland and one from India share their perspective on the top five questions in the space. The PRBI members share some sound advice on how you can make strategy communication work for your strategy:
- Why are internal comms services been asked so much by the comms consultancies right now?
Taru/Finland: Changes in external environment are rapid and huge, and many companies are re-searching their role in the complex world. At the same time people are searching for commitment to their employer, whose values and way of working they can share. Communication is always a key, not only a well-shaped written strategy.
People work with people.
People trust people.
People want to be valued by people.
As we balance hybrid models and the increasing overuse of technology and communication mediums, the human element cannot go missing. Employees want to feel valued and heard. Organisations and their leaders cannot just claim to be ‘progressive’ and ‘flexible’. They have to walk the talk and internal communication is the key.
Communication consultancies are being asked to take up the mandate and either set protocols, set up teams, or train existing teams on the role. A neutral party that will solve the challenge by actively listening to both sides and carefully build a bridge between both sides.
2. When talking about a new business strategy, what are the typical mistakes in internal / employee comms?
Taru/Finland: People are not heard, and their worries are not listened to. Strategy might be so high-level with complicated terms that people don’t even understand it. And even though they would understand the main points, they don’t feel the strategy as inspiring and worth committing to. And of course, communicating strategy is long-term and planned work, never a project.
Tarunjeet/India: Internal comms is not just a fancy poster on the wall or a pizza party. The living, breathing workforce, the heart and soul of an organization. It should be the first and foremost issue when rolling out the red carpet for a fresh strategy and vision. It’s not just about making people aware; it’s about making them believe, invest, and champion the cause.
Internal communication professionals should be recognized as catalysts in creating a circular feedback loop—a strategic model where information flows seamlessly in both directions, fostering engagement, alignment, and collective ownership of the communication process.
A key error made is that some confuse this with HR, Visual branding or PR. This is a role unto itself and demands a different amalgamation of the same.
3. Middle management’s role in communicating strategy?
Taru/Finland: Huge. Middle management is a critical layer between the Management Group and employees. They are the ones who are living ordinary days with their teams, and who need to have the right tools for building target-driven dialogue with their people. At the same time, they are, or they should act as role models for their teams.
Tarunjeet/India: Middle management is crucial in bringing alive internal communication. While most of the teams have limited face time with senior leadership, they meet the middle management daily. Their experience of company culture comes from these interactions. And this set needs to believe and live the values professed by the brand to be able to set the tone of the culture in the organisation.
4. Three tips that every company should implement for middle management to understand internal comms?
Commit middle management to the strategy communication from the very beginning. Wise organizations are listening to the middle management’s feedback, since their thoughts reflect employees’ thoughts.
Give tools for the middle management to communicate the strategy.
Support and stay close, in other terms help the middle management to succeed and celebrate even smaller success.
Increase facetime with senior leadership and founding teams inspiring them to see the big picture.
Regular Workshops with external consultants that help them enhance skills required to rise up to the mission & vision and brush up on it periodically.
Talk the language and mode your people want to hear. This is unique to each country.
5. Your advise for comms consultancies on internal communication?
Taru/Finland: Internal communication is a very demanding discipline, since you need not only to be skilled in sensing people’s feelings, but also be interested in your client’s people you are working with. Additionally, you have to assimilate internal processes and management protocols in order to give value to the client. I see internal communication as an important service for allcomms agencies: it is a strategic basis for your offerings.
Tarunjeet/India: Most consultancies would already be doing this without really being aware of it as an extension of setting communication protocols. But if you carve out a specific vertical then this can be a fantastic addition to your services that can increase revenue. When you get started on this, first choose to educate your team on the role and how to demarcate this from regular comms. This will also involve a deep dive into the cultural and geo-political landscape of your country. Once you gain clarity on the role, then add this to your offerings.
About the writers:
Taru Nikulainen is a Founder and Chair or the Communication Consultancy of the Year Brunnen Communications in Finland. With +25 years of experience from both client’s and agency’s side Taru leads client accounts focusing on strategies, reputation as well as change and crisis management. Besides her daily work, Taru develops communication discipline in Finland as a Board Member of Marketing Finland and as a Board Member of Finnish Communication Agencies. Taru and Brunnen share ambition and ideas as the only Finnish Member in PR Boutiques International, a global network of boutique comms agencies representing their interest in the country from agencies spread across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, South America, Africa and Middle East.
Tarunjeet Rattan is a seasoned PR professional who currently heads a successful PR Boutique firm – Nucleus PR, based in India. With over 23 years of professional experience in the field of Public Relations, her skill set extends to guiding brands in discovering their authentic voice, delivering astute communication counsel, and facilitating their journey toward impactful storytelling and a strong brand reputation. She represents the interests of an elite global group of boutique agencies – PR Boutiques International, in India.