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Sorrell and direct communication

Started 13 days ago

I think his point is a salient one, in these Covid-19 times.

It might be difficult to accept as such, but what many brands, organisations, consumers are figuring out is both how to rationalise, find renewed sense of purpose, and be much more honest too. 

That requires new forms of communication, not less. It's much like the twitter effect. People get to talk direct to their followers, not around them. 

Much to think about. 

Its interesting how today's communication tools enable this. Its the "modern manager" who gets the tools and understands the real strength of a digital workplace and how he/she can now not only reach their teams but actually engage with them. Direct communication is a two way street. Your twitter analogy is great - because once you put your tweet out there with all of your followers, you open yourself up to the flood of replies and reactions.

Part of me likes being a member of a curating newsroom (in the tradition of "All the news that's fit to print"). As a news consumer though, I like getting information and insight direct from the source.  I'm happy to be able to tune out the pundits. Perhaps our organizations are somehow similar.

We surely do have a role sufacing the bottom up messages as well


I think there is going to be a 'clear out' of activities that has little bearing on short-term output. For example, I think in light of 'digital transformation' that now takes weeks NOT years, change managers, consultants etc. are going to be under pressure to show results... Same is going to be true for communicators. I think his point about less layers makes sense. So we need to figure out how to diversify, make impact in other ways... 

I must confess that I'm inclined to agree with Sir Martin.  I think our role is to facilitate great communication in organisations rather than try to do it for leaders.  An authentic voice always shines through.

IC as a commuication consultant or even counsellor appeals to me. Someone's got to stand up to a CEO and say "no, that's not the way to write, speak ... that's not the right message". 

PS - I'd imagine Sir Martin is a quite the character to stand up to!

Of course, re bottom-up messages! That two-way dialogue is crucial. If leaders continue to 'hide' in their ivory towers, then it will be a disaster. If they engaging workers (like we always promise they will), then that will be a positive effect of this crisis. Comms must bridge that gap/conversation. 

@Jonathan - exactly. Ok, let them write, but as internal comm's professionals, manage the delivery. Maybe not the message (but unfortunately sometimes it also has to be the message) but the words you use and how the message is delivered can sometimes hurt the delivery and sometimes make it truly stand out.

@Martyn, @Marc - and there you've delivered employee engagement. And isn't that a significant percentage of the goal of what we're trying to do? 

@scott -- yes, true! But, here's the rub, employee engagement isn't the goal. The goal is elsewhere, that Sorrell alluded to. It's growth, GDP, change, even innovation. To me that is the point: comms is a servant of a wider business purpose. Which is what I think Sorrell's criticism of it is. 


@Marty - Everything you said is true...driven by employee engagement. Growth, change, innovation...all require a strong workforce. Employee engagement is at the root of this in today's modern workforce. I think its a double faced arrow and we're really on the same page - top down communication that speaks to the employees and bottom up communication that is the employees engaging with the company and management. Both are critical to success and drive productivity and growth. 

Sorrell is a communicator and a very effective one.  Not all leaders are, and they often need help to frame and impart their message while retaining authenticity. Everyone learns to speak, everyone learns to write - not everyone is an effective communicator, although they may think they are! Listening to him answer the question, I think much of his challenge was to structures and processes which block rather than a broadside against a profession and its people.

@Jo - very much agree with you. His point about too many 'layers' was apt. The message needs to get out, but with less fuss. Speed of response is crucial. That's his metric. The task is how we get that done, and ensure it's responded to, or affects the market in the right way etc. 

(But was surprised he writes his own releases!)