We all experience ‘lightbulb’ moments of insight or inspiration that shape how we think and work. Sometimes they are defining moments in our careers. In our ongoing Communication Breakthrough series, we share our members’ stories in the hope they will inspire your own professional journey. In this, our fourth issue, we hear how the principles of marketing are of great value when designing internal programs.
Introducing … Michael Nord
An IABC member for around 7 years, Michael was co-founder and President of the Dutch chapter and organised the regional Leadership Institute in Amsterdam. In 2012 he joined the EMENA board where he is currently serving as Chair. Michael has also served on a number of international IABC committees.
Now, Michael shares his professional breakthrough moment when he moved from external to internal communications.
What’s your specialism, Michael?
My day job is as Principal Consultant in the Fifth Business: a privately owned internal communications consultancy. My clients are large organisations, often of a technical nature, who are looking to align internal and external brand and messaging.
Can you give us a little background to your breakthrough moment?
Bear in mind I joined the Fifth Business in 2006 after having worked in a number of PR/marketing roles — with only a little focus on internal communications. Having come from an external communications world, I was now challenged to do an internal communications role.
My first client was the HR/Learning department of a global energy company. The task was
to promote a learning programme — as well as ensuring that all our client’s employees understood their own role in their personal development.
By drawing on what I knew best, I applied marketing techniques to create a plan that involved leadership messages delivered across video, e-learning, web, intranet and more.
After a lot of hard, fast work, the client was very impressed and my baptism by fire into the world of internal communications was a fact.
So what was your actual breakthrough moment?
This was my first big internal communications role and involvement. By applying marketing thinking and processes I had designed and delivered a plan that worked well for internal communications too.
My breakthrough came when the HR Learning Manager said to me and my Line Manager how impressed the department was with our plan, our commitment, and how — in a very short time — we had developed the website, videos, podcast, e-learning module and engagement slide packs.
Our plan had engaged stakeholders, received buy-in from people on the highest level — across my client’s region and throughout their divisions too.
The real success was that the number of employees who had development discussions with their team leads had grown considerably. So, thanks to our planning and execution, we had achieved our goal.
Do you have some lessons to share?
Over time, I realised that — especially because departments in multinationals often work in silos — many large companies often fail to align the brand internally with their external brand offering.
I found that by applying insight and methodologies from marketing, I could help my clients understand that internal and external brand experiences can be aligned — and ensure we iterate consistent messages across the board.
I have now made this a particular focus in my work: to align both internal and external messages — across all channels — so ensuring that employees have the same brand experience as the outside world.
Maybe this could work for you too?
Want to share your own story?
Drop us a line on [email protected]
We’d love to hear from you!
— IABC EMENA Board