In addressing the value of public affairs and correspondingly public relations, it is common to find that external communications are far more heavily relied upon and supported compared to its equally valuable counterpart, internal communications.
Although seen as too close to human resources to be deemed credible and worthy of time, internal communications can dictate many affairs surrounding an organisation, including:
- Employee loyalty and retention
- Customer retention
- Brand management
- Share price and security
For example, Coca-Cola has analysed that for ‘every person employed in producing
or distributing Coca-Cola products creates (through backward
and forward linkages including suppliers, distributors, wholesalers,
and retailers) between 10 and 12 additional jobs’ (Smith 2002, p.138). The value therefore for employee loyalty and retention can be astronomical when developed correctly, and in turn, produces a kind of butterfly effect on its surrounding environment and economy.
“Skip” Smith (2002, p.140) also addresses the value of internal development and education, claiming that ‘while most people think of Coca-Cola as a producer of soft
drinks, we think of ourselves as a producer and marketer of
non-alcoholic beverages’. This corporation, therefore, broadens its own horizons through the analytical review of its current successes and downfalls and in doing so supports the brand awareness internally and externally. By building brand awareness across numerous publics, Coca-Cola maintains loyalty and innovation internally and externally.
Kunerth and Mosley (2011, p.23) report on the value of internal as well as external communication within Coca-Cola, performed at a conference where:
One of the initiatives following the creation of the EVP was the development of the first group-wide external recruitment campaign, but the most significant focus in terms of HR management time and attention was to bring the employment experience at Coca-Cola Hellenic more closely into line with the four key employer brand promises (attributes), which in turn the company believed would both drive higher levels of employee engagement and organizational capability (by means of improved employee development and quality focus).
By incorporating the desired successes of an organisation first into internal communications, thereby achieving passion and satisfaction from employees, who in turn remain positive and active with customers, ensures the highest chance of success within external publics. Although there is no guarantee that ultimate overall success will occur, the value of building an organisation from the ground up, rather than picking up the pieces as the organisation struggles, is far easier to perform and maintain. The benefit of internal communications is also evident in the translation and fluidity between separate teams/offices internationally for larger corporations, as employees and their clients experience very little confusion and stress when learning of a new product, understanding the escalation process etc.
Kunerth and Mosley (2011, p.24) also address the value of local internal communications, analysing how Coca-Cola has incorporated a ‘fun at work focus’…to local country managers. This involved a wide range of initiatives, from improving social facilities, focusing greater attention on team recognition and celebrating success, to improving work-life balance’. The key to success is therefore to ‘provide a balance between current credibility (winning team/making a difference) and achievable aspirations (realising potential/enjoyment business), twinned with an appreciation of the tangible investment required to convert stated aspirations into observable progress’ (2011, p.25).
Kunerth, B, & Mosley, R 2011, ‘Applying employer brand management to employee engagement’, Strategic HR Review, vol. 10, no. 3, p. 19. Available from: 10.1108/14754391111121874. [19 June 2017].
“Skip” Smith, DK 2002, ‘Interview with Mr. Robert A. Lindsay, Vice President, Public Affairs and Communication for Coca-Cola Africa Group, United Kingdom’, Journal of African Business, vol. 3, no. 2, p. 137.