IC AROUND THE WORLD

 Views on internal communication from

Pakistan

 

Interview with

Sohaib Mustafa

Perception Engineer and COO at Wordsmith

 

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 Pakistan in recent years?

 

Pakistan is a unique country when it comes to internal communications. While marketing tactics like OOH*, advertisements on electronic, print, social and even digital media are a popular way to get in touch with the target audience, internal comms is still far from being understood as an form of hard core communication.

 

"Internal comms is still far from being understood as an form

of hard core communication."

Corporate communication is still a new field in this market. Although it is practiced in bits and pieces in all organizations that I have worked in and know of, there is still a long way to go when it comes to making any proper use of Corporate Communication. Having said that, it wouldn’t be fair to say that it goes unrecognized in the country. Both Mobilink and Telenor, the two largest telecom companies in the country run it as a dedicated function (not a division yet) and have robust, well established teams working in the Corporate Communication Department.

I know a few banks, like Standard Chartered are doing well in keeping the department going. This however is a small proportion in a country that hosts several multinationals and large scale local corporate organizations; not to mention the innumerable government organizations.

 

Coming to internal communication, unfortunately it lies deeper in the pile and is yet to be truly discovered. Some top companies do have internal communication department or teams but the immense potential that this discipline has needs more empowerment, more belief from the senior management and more opportunity to be exposed to the employees. 

 

"The immense potential that this discipline has needs more empowerment,

more belief from the senior management and more opportunity

to be exposed to the employees."

 

What do you currently see as the greatest challenges for internal communication in your world?

 

The greatest challenge that internal communication faces in Pakistan is the awareness of the discipline among the top management. As operational as it may sound, it has a lot to do with the ground realities. CEOs of existing organizations don’t think this is a required discipline and thus you don’t see dedicated departments emerge in the biggest of organizations. This in turn does not let Internal Communication become an academic reality either. For this reason you don’t see new companies adopting the discipline.

 

During my visits to several clients when I mention the discipline of internal communications, I am mostly told that HR or some individual who is part of the CEO office, at best, is handling all communication to employees. This, has been quite a disappointment. 

"The greatest challenge that internal communication faces in Pakistan is the

awareness of the discipline among the top management. .. CEOs of existing

organizations don’t think this is a required discipline and thus you don’t see

dedicated departments emerge in the biggest of organizations. This in turn

does not let Internal Communication become an academic reality either. "

What do you see as the biggest opportunities for internal communication to make a difference in the next year or two?

 

Where it exists, in my opinion, internal communication will have a vital role to play in the coming 1-3 years in Pakistan. Though there is a lack of properly set up departments, oraganizations

have started using the internal communications teams to build a robust network of corporate media. My last two assignments in the corporate world saw a huge growth in the function and employee engagement which was mostly due to the efforts in internal communication. I believe this is still going to do more good to the organizations practicing internal communication but will also help other companies understand the importance of internal communications. I don’t however see internal communications enter the academic courses in any universities for another 5 years which is a rather discouraging note.

 

 

What internal communication resources (websites, conferences, associations) do you make the most use of, other than IC Kollectif?

 

Most of my information, inspiration and problem solving comes via LinkedIn. I think it has some very relevant groups of internal comms professionals who are willing to help. A call from Pakistan sees much interest, usually. With the limited diaspora in Pakistan, as such there are no local conferences, associations or even groups that one can join, unfortunately.

"Internal communication will have a vital role to play

in the coming 1-3 years in Pakistan."

Who are the international internal comms experts and personalities you pay attention to the most?

 

I follow:

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?

As I said in answer to the first question, Pakistan is a different ball game altogether. International case studies hardly matter here. When talking to local CEOs/CXOs and clients, the best examples I quote come from my own experience in the industry. So once, for instance, we were celebrating the kickoff of an important internal comms campaign and we arranged for the local ‘dhol walas’ (drummers typically found in the central province of Punjab) at a town hall attended by about 1000 employees. Our CEO danced along with the junior staff and the video went viral as well as became the face of the entire campaign that is still mentioned by employees. 

*OOH: out of home ads: billboards, hoardings, mastheads etc.

ABOUT Sohaib Mustafa

Sohaib Mustafa is an experienced Communications professional from the corporate sector in Pakistan and has recently turned into an entrepreneur with his venture Wordsmith. He believes that communication alone has had the power of changing the course of history at all times since the beginning. Sohaib has 15 years of experience in communication and thinks that photography and football made him strong enough to get this far. He is a music, history and literature enthusiast and very close to being a technology addict. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.