Countdown to Christmas: Day one

The All Things IC countdown to Christmas is back. Every day between now and 25 December I’m going to be highlighting a guest post from this year.

This is the third year I’ve run an advent series, thank you to everyone who has written for the All Things IC blog in 2015.

Today’s article features Mark Davies, Communications and Corporate Affairs Director at The Post Office, writing about integrated communication teams.

How the Post Office is integrating its communication team

Could you remove the divide between internal communication and PR in your organisation? Is it possible to integrate a communication team to focus on the content being produced rather than the function?

markdaviesBoth of these things are possible, and The Post Office here in the UK is working on this right now.

I’m delighted to share a guest post exclusively on the All Things IC blog from Mark (pictured) @mdavies_pocomms.

The Post Office is the UK’s largest retail network and the largest financial services chain in the UK, with more branches than all of the UK’s banks and building societies put together.

They have over 370 years of service, more than 170 products and services plus 11,500 Post Office branches nationwide. Every week they’re visited by approximately 17 million customers who carry out 47 million transactions.

Over to you Mark…

How to integrate your communication team

Post OfficeIt is a communications challenge to savour: a vibrant and compelling range of content from one of the most iconic brands around. And target audiences which are spread far and wide, with different needs and varying levels of engagement.

At the same time we have an obligation in tough market conditions and unsurprisingly tight budgets to demonstrate value in what we do.

So we’ve decided to shake things up.

Out with the traditional split between PR and internal communications, and all its challenges. And in with an approach which puts content before function.

Our People and Transformation Communications team will focus on what we believe will be one of the business turnaround stories of the decade. And in a complex stakeholder environment, including industrial relations, politics and regulatory oversight, that means looking at every issue in the round: engaging our people on the one hand but also preparing for external challenge at the same time.

So no internal team on one side of the room and an external team elsewhere. Tweet this

And our Campaigns team will be devoted to promoting our products internally and externally: our growing financial services business and the challenges in the mails market, for instance.

That will mean engaging consumer PR approaches as much as building internal engagement for the ways in which our product teams are innovating and motivating the front line in branches.

These teams will sit alongside colleagues working on public affairs, policy and comms planning. And crucially drawing on that expertise to tell stories inside and outside. Tweet this

One Post Office

e-commerce - Choosing a smatphone with digital tablete-commerce - Choosing a smatphone with digital tabletBusiness in detail At the same time we are rationalising the many channels currently used to service distinct audience groups (of which we have many – postmasters and their staff, central teams, directly managed branches, supply chain and more) and focusing effort on a “One Post Office” approach.

A new digital hub, interactive and updated daily, will be available to all, and generated through an editorial approach focused on generating the best content.

When it comes to content, we have plenty to draw on. And our newsroom principles will be founded on what will provide context, generate interest and a wow factor: not on the basis of “putting out a comms”.

At the same time, as you’d expect, we will measure how well it is working, drive out distractions and maximise opportunities (simpler but louder, if you like).

This presents mouth-watering development opportunities for a team of communicators which is already outstanding.

For those who’ve specialised in internal there is the chance to work on PR or stakeholder issues, and vice versa.

It is also, inevitably, breaking down silos and promoting cross-team working, and any sense of a hierarchy of communications disciplines: the content is what matters.

It’s early days. The new site is launched next month, the teams are forming. But we are convinced it will work: our business is a vibrant, rapidly changing place – and honest, engaging content which aids understanding around all our challenges and opportunities is critical to the success of our transformation.

Post author: Mark Davies, Communications and Corporate Affairs Director, Post Office.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Mark, I wish you the best of luck as you start to transition. Do please write an update for readers of the All Things IC blog soon to let us know how you’re getting on.

First published on the All Things IC blog 14 October 2015.

Picture credits: The Post Office.

This post published 1 December 2015.

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