I have the honour of sitting on a panel of IABC Master Communicators today to discuss the future of our profession. The discussion will be led by one of Canada's leading communicators, Jacqui d’Eon, Deloitte Canada’s Chief Communications Officer and IABC's 2008 Master Communicator.
The theme is "Are Communicators Still Relevant -- Or Have We Become Disposable?"
The panelists were asked to contribute two or three minutes of commentary to help kick off the discussion. Here are my notes:
We’ve been through a very dark time over the last decade, a time in which employee engagement has declined and digital communication tools have proved to be far less effective than expected.
This is a time of great change and opportunity for employee communicators, but I worry that we might not be not up to the challenge.
I worry that many of us are trapped in our roles as technical/tactical specialists -- constantly posting, posting, posting to intranets that don’t get read and don’t get measured.
I worry that we’ve forgotten how to offer strategic advice, or how to effectively say no to stupid instructions from our leaders (and offer them thoughtful alternatives).
I worry that, at time that calls for leadership and action, we are so paralyzed by our habits, stifled by the bureaucracies in which we work, and fearful about the security of our own jobs, that we are doing nothing where we should be doing something.
I worry that we’ve forgotten about the basics of the old RACE formula (research, analysis, communication, evaluation) and we’ve become entrenched in our role as order-takers and crisis responders.
And I worry that the new social media tools, which reduce the need for intermediaries like us, could speed the erosion of our strategic importance.
I always say the more you worry about something, the less likely it is to happen. So in the end I’m optimistic about the future of employee communication, and here's why:
We’ve got powerful new tools that have uses we haven’t even begun to explore.
There’s growing interest and attention by corporate leaders in improving engagement, because there’s hard evidence linking engagement to bottom line business performance.
Put Web 2.0 technology together with the burning need to improve engagement, and you have a big opportunity to rebuild a new kind of loyalty -- a new kind of corporate culture based on the creation and support of strong internal communities.
There has never been a better time to make the business case for improving internal communication.
A once-in-a-generation opportunity is right in front of us and we must seize it now.