Is there clarity on what PR, HR and Internal Communication can achieve?


Over the last couple of days, I have received mails from students – one from the UK and the other from a leading institute in Pune. Though the questions were fundamental, it highlights the ambiguity in the minds of those wanting to pursue communication as a career.  

For the benefit of others, I am taking the liberty to first articulate the queries and provide my take on the subjects.

Question: “The lines between HR, internal communications and PR are quite blurry and senior management seems to be unsure regarding how IC is related to PR but different from HR. I would like to know if this is an area that has been widely covered. Apart from what is being discussed regarding the importance of internal comms and how it is increasingly important now to address its key stakeholders – the employees, as an internal comms professional, do you feel that there are other aspects of internal comms that has not been looked into before? Internal communications is a largely debated topic here and if organizations do not get their key messages right from the inside then they pretty much will not be able to do a good job externally either.”

My response which is open to debate:

“There is very little clarity on the roles of HR and IC but in terms of what IC and PR does, management and communication professionals do know how each creates an impact. Undoubtly, both have a linkage – the messages to the external and internal audiences must be in sync. It again depends on how organizations and senior leadership value and view communication. There is a large role of communicators to demonstrate tangible benefits to convince their respective management.

 That said, there are some areas which need attention. With the advent of new media/social media, there is a shift in the way communication is created and shared both internally and externally and that is something communicators do not have too much control over.

 Research also points to a lack of trust and transparency within organizations which is further deepened by the web 2.0 trends.

 Crisis communication as part of internal communication needs more focus and attention like the way leadership communication is taking centrestage.

 Another area of study should be around communication satisifaction and effectiveness/measurement.”

The second query was on the topic of ‘PR in the Corporate Sector’ assigned to the student, which I felt was too broad based.

Below were my recommendations to improve and therefore arrive at a more meaningful project result.

“The suggestion is to narrow down the direction to a few key areas.

1. Perception of PR agencies among media and governmental bodies

2. The role of PR in the Web 2.0 era

3. PR and ethics – how much of hype can be tolerated?

4. Measurement in PR and role for communicators

5. PR and social responsibility in India – where to draw the line

6. Is PR as a domain redundant?

 After you decide along with your guide, talk to at least 10 PR professionals and understand their perspectives on these areas.

 I think the industry and your college will gain a lot more from the insights you will get from these areas.

You should then use Google Scholar to get papers and articles on the topic – talk to media folks and get a 360 degree viewpoint.

The third question was with regard to Internal Communication (IC) as a subset of Corporate Communication.

“Internal Communication (IC) falls within the purview of Corporate Communication but is very specific to communicating with internal audiences. In some organizations, there are niche teams which focus only on employee communication directly reporting into the CEO or the Executive Office, while in some they are nested within HR or as seperate outfits. There is a strong linkage of IC to PR and it is in the best interest of the organization to keep their messages consistent.”

Look forward to views, suggestions and comments.

 

 

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