External and internal communications work best together.

by Jeff Corbin | March 22, 2018

Why British Airways Has It Wrong

In February, PR Week covered British Airways’ hiring of Louise Evans as Director of External Communications. What jumped out at me was that, unlike her predecessor at British Airways, Evans will not oversee internal communications for the company. Rather that role will now fall under HR and the legal department’s purview. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. While it is not a totally uncommon structure, it’s definitely something that should be examined further. In my experience, the most successful businesses are those where internal and external communications, as well as human resources, work closely together, not separately.

Over the years since we launched theEMPLOYEEapp, I have had the opportunity to visit with many of our clients and to work with them to successfully strategize and deploy their new mobile internal communications solution. Depending on the company, I’ve seen different scenarios in which corporate communications, internal communications and HR come together – or don’t. The typical use case for theEMPLOYEEapp is a combination of HR information and important corporate communications (including policies, procedures, must-reads and messages from leadership) as well as workplace tools like benefit, scheduling and time-keeping portals – the content that really matters to employees and that they need/want immediate and easy access to through their mobile devices. As a result, during my meetings, oftentimes, all of the stakeholders in the success of the app are involved (HR, corp comms and internal comms – as well as IT). In other situations, it might be just one or two of the above. However, there is no question that the most successful deployments of theEMPLOYEEapp have been when all are involved and aligned in purpose.

So this brings me back to British Airways and why I am perplexed by the company’s decision to completely separate external communications from internal. At the end of the day, a company’s success externally directly impacts its success internally and vice versa. Communications, whether it be internal, external or communications surrounding HR all serve similar functions and need to work towards a common goal. They each are part of a single company with the same messages that just need to be tailored to different audiences and situations. How can this occur if they are separated?

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