There’s a wealth of literature on internal communication in markets and regions such as North America and Europe. However, there’s little to none on internal communications in emerging
markets such as the Middle East. Organizations in regions such as the Gulf often lack internal communications positions.Their internal communication is either irregular at best, or at worst it is absent. And yet, as internal communicators we understand why the function is essential to organizational performance.
The challenge that we face is two-fold. Firstly, many communicators in emerging markets aren’t specialists in internal communication.They’re generalists, whose main focus is on external communications and public relations. Secondly, organizations in regions such as the Gulf don’t understand internal communication. Many leaders consider internal communications to be top-down messaging such as promotions and strategy announcements. Add to that today’s economic climate across the Middle East, and it means that communication budgets are increasingly under threat and that in-house teams have to do more with less.
For many communicators in emerging regions, they look to ride out these difficult economic conditions by going back to basics and cutting back on outputs. Like in more mature markets, communication budgets in the emerging world are often scaled back during a recession. However, a tough economy presents communicators with the ideal opportunity to introduce internal communication, giving employees a clear picture of the organization’s future and providing them with the information that they need to not only reassure them about performance, but also improve motivation and engagement. Effective employee communication is the best investment any organization can make during a recession.
For many communicators in emerging regions, the first step is to understand the differences between external and internal communication.The latter focuses on a single stakeholder, namely employees.The outcome that internal communicators prioritize is to understand and improve engagement within organizations, which benefits employee perception of issues such as personal, operational and strategic issues.
After they have a grasp of what internal communication entails, the next step for communicators in emerging markets who are new to the internal function will be to bring that experience to bear. Firstly, communicators need to understand their internal organization and its dynamics. It’s simple enough to know who the management is (both executive and line), but do you know who the organizational influencers and gatekeepers are?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Corporate Communications Manager
Procter & Gamble
Alex Malouf is a marketing communications executive who has spent the last 15 years in the Middle East and lived across the region, in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.
A journalist by training and with a cultural mix that is both European and Arabic, Malouf’s expertise spans communications and media, public relations and marketing for both multi-nationals in the energy, technology and FMCG space as well as several Gulf-based government institutions.
His experience includes both internal and corporate communications, media relations and outreach, content development, crisis/reputation management, and digital and social media.
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