By Marco Magli, Regional Coordinator for Italy at EACD

The working environment is continuously evolving, and so is the organizations and the communicators’ community. New challenges are ahead of us, like dealing with new generations’ expectations and the continuous, quick evolution of the corporate culture within organizations. To discuss the question ‘what is in the future of internal communications?‘ , on January 15th EACD and Sella hosted an EACD panel debate in Milan (Italy) and I moderated a dynamic conversation with senior Communicators who fueled the debate: Enrico Bocedi, Corporate Communication Director at Campari Group, Eugenio Lanzetta, Head of Internal Communications at Sella and Alessandra Teruggi, Internal Communication Manager at Vodafone.

Starting point of the panel discussion was the role of Corporate Culture and Purpose, as a way of engaging people in our organizations, which goes further to the external reputation building. Recently, a report by Deloitte (mentioned in the last issue of our Communication Director magazine) stated that 82% of companies believe that corporate culture is a competitive factor, over 50% of them are committed to change it while only 12% believe they know and fully understand the culture of their organization. Moreover, companies begin to be measured on the concrete actions they put in place on issues such as Climate Change, Diversity & Inclusion or Gender Equality.

“We have been talking about corporate culture for many years and I believe that every company has its own culture whether it is declared or reinforced through tailor-made communication initiatives” said Alessandra Teruggi, Internal Communication Manager at Vodafone. “The purpose goes beyond culture, it is a value vision, something broader that goes beyond the classic mission of companies to generate profit. It’s the wish to impact on some crucial social topics. Compared to the past, for the new generations is highly important to identify with the values, whether they are consumers of a brand or employees. This can’t be ignored”.

It is a change of generational expectations that has an impact on organizations and their communications too. In addition to that, technology is an enabling factor and a strong driver of change, often it is also disruptive. “Companies today operate in a very complex world. The fast-changing, competitive and dynamic business environment is far less predictable than ever. They cast both challenges and opportunities for organizations’ communication practices”, commented Eugenio Lanzetta, Head of Internal Communications at Sella. “Internal communication remains one of the fastest-growing communication practices. I really believe that effective internal communication is critical for the success of an organization, let me say that probably today is one of the milestones of the organization. Moreover, thanks to the digitization of the organization, future internal communication will also emphasize more personalization, human touch, ethical accountability, transparency, authenticity, employee participation, sharing, collaboration…and engagement!”.

“In today’s world, the real battle between communicators is for people’s attention” added Enrico Bocedi, Corporate Communications Director at Campari Group. “Technology has enabled new ways of working and created new channels of communications, so people are constantly hit by messages coming from dozens of subjects. If an organization wants

to effectively dialogue with its employees, it needs to set the overall activities as an ongoing conversation, made by short, engaging and shareable content that can catch the attention. But that is not enough: the organizations need to provide also platforms where content can be enjoyed in depth. A multi-channel logic will be fundamental to create an environment which speaks to all the internal population, with video, audio, social and physical touchpoints. This means that the internal communication activities will have to be carried on with the same professional skills applied to other communication areas, implying also the end of the increasingly thinner separation line between external and internal communication: the employees are the first ambassadors of an organization in the outside world, so the messages delivered to them need to be consistent with the narrative that the organization circulates externally”.

Finally, we explored opinions regarding the factors that will have the greatest impact on communication and our work in the years to come. Among the challenges and opportunities for communicators, our panelists identified some key themes that will direct our efforts in the near future: effectiveness in driving Corporate Culture as a success factor for corporate communications and people engagement; Diversity & Inclusion; Commitment to Sustainability; greater attention to Privacy from a technological perspective and because of growing expectations from people; Humanization of the companies, either as a producers of contents (communication tone-of-voice) or as an employer (company to be more and more perceived as a “Human organization” vs a process-driven structure); ability to adapt to fast changing technological environment without losing the attention to what should be the real driver for communicators: the Content and its power to shape the reality for people.