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Greenville Business Magazine

Are You Ready To Go Viral?

By Crystal M. Brown

Communications within an organization, referred to as internal communications, have become increasingly visible and simultaneously more complex in recent years.

Accordingly, organizations need to take a holistic view of their own internal communications infrastructure – from channels and measurement to processes, policies, education and training that support people in becoming effective and responsible stewards of information.

Let’s take a look at a few of the dynamics that have created this transformation and consider how your organization is set up to navigate new territory.

New Way of Working

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic annihilated the traditional work model.

Quite literally overnight, many organizations were forced to change their office-centric approach and accommodate a distributed workforce.

Many employees felt empowered by the more flexible work options brought about by the pandemic – preferring full remote status or a hybrid of remote and office. They are envisioning a life where they have greater autonomy and are redefining their own expectations for balance and flexibility.

Now, with the vaccine deployed, conversations on the post-pandemic work model are gaining traction with some considering a new, modern work model that challenges all that they have known on how to engage and connect with their workforce.

You might be asking: “Aren’t we already working from home?” Yes, however it’s different when you consider working virtual for the short-term versus long-term. It’s an opportunity to ask, are you doing what must be done to simply navigate the pandemic and get “back to normal” or are you taking this opportunity to invest in establishing a “new normal?”

If you’re looking at a new model, it’s critical to have the right internal communications infrastructure, built from a ‘virtual-first’ mentality.

Shift in Leadership Dynamics

Leadership was once considered the responsibility of those at the top of the organization chart.

This format lent well to an autocratic culture where those at the top had the authority with little to no consultation from employees. Today, organizations are becoming more democratic, engaging employees and giving them more of a voice in decision-making. In the process, leadership is becoming something we expect at all levels of the organization with employees taking greater ownership and accountability.

Internal communications serves a critical role in this transition by facilitating the mechanisms to support multidirectional flow of communications across an organization.

Technology Disruption

That memo you’re sending out company-wide, are you looking at that with the same critical eye you have for a press release? If not, you should be.

It’s long been the expectation for external communications to focus on reputation management and internal communications on company engagement and culture.

And that’s changing.

With technology becoming more digital and personal, something can become viral in an instant. The question on an internal message going external isn’t if, it’s when.

As such, the line that separates internal and external communications has become increasingly blurred, with internal communicators taking on increased responsibility in reputation management.

So, are you ready to go viral?

Crystal M. Brown is a global internal communications manager with Amazon, focused on strategies for remote / virtual audiences. She has 15 years of experience in the industries of engineering, construction, power generation, manufacturing and retail. She was formerly recognized as a S.C. Women in Business Woman to Watch.