My digital public affairs wheel includes internal communications as a core component of the public affairs toolkit, which struck some people as odd. I’d argue that good internal communications is imperative for any large scale business conducting public affairs (but admittedly less so for non-profits or SMEs), given the following:
- PA is often not understood by the wider business and/or seen mainly as a cost
- The value that PA practitioners bring may be under-appreciated
- Therefore, the PA function is often underfunded (and overworked) and thus ineffectual
- At times, PA is not integrated in the wider communications set-up, which may result in perilous misalignment (policy maker hearing one thing from PA but reading another somewhere else originating from Corporate Communications?)
- Similarly, PA practitioners might not be using thinking and material developed by other communications functions because they sit in different silos
- Furthermore, PA can be ineffective because it does not contain enough real-world business proof points i.e. it gets caught up in policy-speak not real world outcomes
I have no doubt that leadership prioritisation, good hires, structure and/or silo reduction need to play a role, but I suspect improved internal communications would already go a fair way towards countering each of the points in my list.