IC AROUND THE WORLD
Views on internal communication from
Patricia Corrales Araya
Journalist and MarCom, Specialist oriented towards IC
IC Around The World is a series of interviews with communication professionals from around the globe working in the field of internal communication.
They share their views on the practice of internal communication in their countries, and tell us who and what they are paying attention to in the world of IC.
How has internal communication developed in your country in recent years?
Chile used to be a conservative country in terms of organizational structure and strategy planning in both the private and public sectors. So, Corporate Communications used to be focused on PR, crisis management and “external” issues, sometimes just related to Marketing and Commercial planning. Internal Communications was at a kind of “secondary level” in the minds of managers and directors.
Fifteen years ago, IC meant just making magazines, writing memoranda, organizing anniversary events and creating campaigns, but without a strategy or a plan. This point of view was also shared by communication professionals who worked on these things. Fortunately, last seven or eight years we have seen positive changes and growing awareness about the importance of including internal communications in the overall corporate strategy plan. But this is a trend mainly in big companies. There are still huge challenges in small and medium business. So, currently we are working on it.
What do you currently see as the greatest challenges for internal communication in your world?
I think the major challenge is still to engage higher managers and directors with the importance of integrating internal communications within the strategic plan of the company. We have to convince them often to make diagnoses, to analyze the efficiency of channels, recover feedback from employees, involve workers in the conversation for improving operation processes. And the most important, our directors should be aware that the first ambassador of any organization is the employee. So, it’s a must to create a very fluid communication with them. It’s a key factor to manage possible crises, to engage their willingness to compromise and loyalty and to sustain a labor environment consistent with corporate objectives.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities for internal communication to make a difference in the next year or two?
I think the entrance of “millennials” to labor world is making a difference and has been opening opportunities to create new ways of communicating within organizations. But at the same time, we have to consider that another part of the population is getting older, so we must to be able to “communicate” diverse points of view, talents and attributes of different generations within the same work environment.
What internal communication resources (website, conferences, associations) do you make the most use of, other than IC Kollectif?
I really like to attend conferences and congresses, but it’s not possible most of the time. Also, I belong to the Internal Communication Chilean Society and I read local and international websites and articles related to Internal Communication – mostly shared through Linkedin. Finally, I try to follow Chilean case stories to see how specialists solve some crisis and successful experiences, I think this is a valuable source to learn about corporate cultures and to understand organizational communication process.
Content depends on the objectives organization would like to support. Currently, Chilean companies have used email and conferences for official and daily communications. Websites and newsletters are very regular resources also. Intranet is still a huge channel in several companies. And lately, we have observed, social media and internal mobile apps have been introduced in big private and public organizations.
Who are the internal comms experts and personalities you pay attention to the most?
I follow Mike Klein (Netherlands), Alejandro Formanchuk (Argentina) and Susana Cáceres (Chile). Mike shows me European trends, and shares very interesting experiences and knowledge of organizations in developed countries. He is really clear and practical, so his articles are really useful. Alejandro and Susana, are very good IC specialists in Latin America, so their expertise in the reality of our countries allow us insights into several issues we see daily in our organizations.
Have you came across a piece of data - a study/report/research/case study/article - that proves your bosses/clients the value of IC investment generally, or to support a particular tactic or initiative?
Usually, when I have to exhibit results of IC Diagnosis of an organization to the general manager, CEO or management committee of a company, they look very impressed about how many indicators that they had no idea existed and “suddenly” they are aware about certainties and solutions that make sense to them. Unfortunately, some times the commitment to the strategy is diluted over time, so we must persevere constantly in validating the results of our work with periodic measurements.
These IC Diagnoses are confidential. But I can tell you, for example, about a case of a Lab where they had a lot of problems with the labor union that represented 50% of employees. In addition, they had to implement a lot of changes to increase sales and improve productivity. However, again there was a hostile attitude to incorporate these changes and people didn't understand reasons to do them.
IC diagnosis revealed that formal communications process was very weak, the organizational leaders didn't have enough information, and they were not able to spread and motivate their work groups. Even more, there were no internal magazines or newsletter. So, the main effective communication channel was rumor and "informal channels" dominated by the labor union. The management committee could see in a map they had a real problem of communication, even in their own formal structure, and they didn’t have any idea about it, or what to do about it. They thought that e mails and some meetings were enough. So, with the results of the IC Diagnosis they could review and improve their approach.
ABOUT Patricia Corrales Araya
Journalist and MarCom (Marketing and Communications) specialist, oriented towards IC (Internal Communication), content editor, social media and campaigns.
I have worked for 20 years in several communication-related areas, starting out as a reporter and working as a media editor (corporate and specialized), Corporate Marketing and holding strategic Communication leadership management positions.
I have formed international professional teams with personnel from France, Latin America, United States, England, China and Chile, my country of origin. Currently, I manage my own business in Chile and work as independent consultant.