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Eight professional communication trends

How can you use the power of the whole communication toolkit – also known as proper strategic communication – effectively?

We talk a lot in the world of internal communication about working strategically. In fact episode one of season two of my Candid Comms podcast address this exact topic.

It will be published tomorrow, Sunday 6 June 2021, via your favourite podcast player.

I spotted a post on LinkedIn this morning from Alex Aiken, @AlexanderAiken Executive Director of Government Communications, which highlighted the report from the COVID-19 Communications Advisory Panel.

If you’ve not seen the report before, I recommend checking it out.

I’m going to share extracts from it in this article, including eight professional communication trends.

COVID 19 advisory panel report

The report is packed with useful information and was created by representatives from organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Institute of Internal Communication and Public Relations and Communication Association (PRCA), working in partnership with the Government.

It states: “This report shows how a national crisis brought the power of communication to bear on protecting people’s health and saving lives. It has acted as a great accelerator to develop communication practice towards a model of integrated, direct, digital communication. The crisis has forced communicators and organisations to collaborate and boards to rely on their leading marketers and PR professionals working together to tell the story of how the business can navigate the health, economic and societal consequences of a deadly illness.

“Within organisations, internal communication helped leaders develop a new model of working, at home and in the office, and public services embedding new combined models of working and ways to tackle disinformation. Marketing and communication rose to the top of the organisational agenda during the COVID-19 crisis. It has become firmly aligned with leadership and executive management as a strategic management function. This status places a responsibility on practitioners to take a progressive approach to professional development.”

The table on page 38 of the report sets out the areas that should be a focus for practitioners in recovery.

It is eight professional communication trends and the skills needed. I agree with this list, it mirrors many of the conversations I have with All Things IC’s clients and Comms friends.

Use it as checklist to reflect against your own practice. I particularly like the fact it’s been aligned with the skills needed by Comms professionals to be able to address the trends. 
Eight communication trends

The eight professional areas are:

  1. The shift to virtual communication  – enabling more agile, flexible and trusted working environments
  2. Communication as a strategic management and leadership function – influencing with data and audience insight
  3. The communication hub – cross-functional working and collaboration to a shared goal
  4. Inside out communication – the future shape of human and authentic leadership
  5. The shift to digital media accelerates – changing content and media consumption landscape
  6. Multi-agency working and the power of networks – implementing powerful partnerships
  7. Achieving best practice communication equality – creating inclusive and equal communication that makes a difference
  8. Dealing with disinformation – building trusted communication.

I encourage you to read through the whole report, in particular the sections on cross-functional hub teams.

Jennifer SproulI’m going to share this extract from the report with you as I think it’s an important one for internal communicators. It was written by Jennifer Sproul, (pictured) Chief Executive of the Institute of Internal Communication, when reflecting on the COVID 19 pandemic and impact for organisations and Comms professionals:

“Many leaders have been coached to embrace a clear and transparent communication style. Internal communicators have helped leaders and managers connect and listen to employee concerns, shifting internal communication away from more traditional styles of ‘broadcast communication’ towards two-way, and even multi-directional, dialogue.

“This has led to a shift in perception, positioning leaders as more approachable and ‘human’, increasing their visibility and encouraging them to strip their corporate armour to demonstrate more authentic leadership. This reinforces a sense of community, trust and commitment to shared purpose. Ultimately, this improves performance and strengthens organisational resilience.

“Long-term organisational survival and UK economic recovery will depend on internal cultures that support human collaboration, ideation and co-creation. The quality of shared intelligence is contingent on the quality of internal communication.

“This means listening as well as speaking. It means communicating for knowledge exchange, not just for knowledge transfer. It means exploring the ‘art’ of meaningful conversation, and practising techniques that build connection, belonging, trust and rapport. The range of activities that modern internal communication professionals undertake is dynamic and fast-moving and, we believe, forever transformed by the events of 2020.

“As we navigate into a new work future, the near-term will be filled with ambiguity and challenge. Conversation and inclusive communication will help us unpack these challenges and reframe them as opportunities.

“Internal communication is the linchpin by which organisations will survive and thrive. An organisation that communicates well internally will achieve greater productivity, innovation, brand reputation and resilience. Best practice internal communication is going to be key to UK economic recovery.

Further reading: COVID-19 Advisory Panel Report.

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Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel.

Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC website 5 June 2021.

Candid Comms Podcast

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