Three Themes from the Latest ALI Strategic Internal Communications Conference
In late January our team attended our second Advanced Learning Institute’s Strategic Internal Communications conference in San Francisco. For any corporate or internal communications professional (or even HR) we highly recommend these events (and others like them) as the quality of focused conversation both during the scheduled sessions as well as the more informal networking is top-notch. At this event, a few key themes resonated during the conference:
A ‘consumer-like’ experience should exist within the tools that employers use to communicate with their employees.
Everyone at the event was using some form of digital communications tool(s) whether it was as simple as email or more ‘complex’ like an intranet or social collaboration solution. The challenge discussed was how to make these tools more engaging and ‘consumer-like’ so that employees actually want to use them and can do so easily (particularly through the mobile device). Far too often IT teams take control of communications tools. While they may consult with or be assigned to work with communications departments, as tech professionals, they don’t necessarily understand the business challenges that communications professionals face in their work. As a result, the user experience of the tools selected by IT can be difficult to administer or use. Our take-away: the communications professionals should have a greater voice in determining which communications tools are most appropriate for a company’s employees.
The SharePoint behemoth isn’t going away…so, what do we do?
When attendees at the event were asked, “which of your companies uses SharePoint?” nearly everyone in the audience (begrudgingly) raised their hand. The sad fact of the matter is that over the past decades, Microsoft’s SharePoint has become the de facto intranet solution for most organizations. Given the vastness of what is included in most companies’ systems as well as the millions of dollars that have been spent over the years, IT departments have been very reluctant to upgrade or make a change from SharePoint. Apropos to theme #1 above, the user experience of most companies’ SharePoint sites is miserable even in a desktop environment, let alone mobile. Again, as communications professionals, we can unwillingly defer to IT or take control of communications technology solutions. The good news is that solutions like theEMPLOYEEapp are now available to allow you to do so.
Communications and HR Professionals are working together more often to create a comprehensive communications strategy.
As communicators our goal is to get our key messaging into the hands of all of our employees, regardless of the communications style or delivery mechanism. HR professionals have an equally important job of getting critical employee related information into the hands of all members of their workforce. To the extent communications transcends both business functions, shouldn’t the two work hand-in-hand? In some organizations this is already taking place (e.g. Northwell Health – the largest private company in New York State). This should become more commonplace as the two more frequently work together to better strategize and execute on an organization’s overall communications plan.
There are numerous communications solutions available in the market today that can help companies accomplish their communications objectives. Several of them were discussed in San Francisco. Notwithstanding this, there is a need to cut through the clutter to ensure that the appropriate solution or solutions are implemented. To facilitate this, we at APPrise Mobile created The Communications Professional: Guide to Mobile Solutions and Services. Feel free to download it for a single and straightforward resource that explains the various options available as well as the cost to implement.
Mobile IR Apps versus Social Media – Are the Two Mutually Exclusive?
BNY Mellon recently released the tenth edition of its Global Trends in Investor Relations report. The comprehensive survey examines global IR practices from 550 respondents across 54 countries that span a range of market cap and industry sectors, including financials, industrials, consumer, technology and healthcare. A free copy of the report is available by clicking the link above.
While there are many good takeaways from the 36 page report, the authors of the report confuse one important issue – the use of mobile technology for IR purposes does not constitute social media. Hence it is a mistake to include “Mobile phone/Tablet IR apps” within the social media section of the report without qualification.
Social media for IR purposes certainly can take place via the mobile device (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, StockTwits, etc.). However, mobile technology by itself is not social media. It is but a mechanism through which to deliver information (similar to the desktop computer and Internet). Similarly, mobile IR apps aren’t social media. Rather they, like the IR website, are another conduit for making investor related information accessible to investors. The two are not and shouldn’t be considered mutually exclusive.
One message that we at theIRapp have continued to emphasize in our blog (Authentic Content Still Reigns King and Avon, Twitter and Fraudulent Communications) is the importance of companies controlling their message and ensuring that the public receives authentic, company-generated content. The BNY report mentions the “inability to control the message” as an important reason for not using social media for IR purposes. As a result, one might believe that the same holds true with respect to IR apps. This is not the case. Rather, content posted on a company’s IR app is done so by an authorized member of the company. Moreover, in some instances, a company’s IR app is an extension of its IR website and the content therein.
The BNY Mellon report indicates that the category of mobile phone/tablet IR apps has doubled since 2012 when their research first started following this new form of communications. There is still a lot of room for further growth considering only 11% of companies are using IR apps. And this will undoubtedly occur as companies continue to embrace the importance of making their IR information readily, instantaneously and conveniently available to their investors. It will also continue to grow as investors continue to recognize that the information being delivered to them through the IR apps of the companies they follow is authentic and actually from the company.
Blog Post from Jeff Corbin:
A Change of Careers…Kind of
Last week I announced that I would be stepping down as CEO of public relations consulting firm KCSA Strategic Communications in order to fully dedicate myself to building and leading APPrise Mobile as its CEO. For the past few years, APPrise Mobile has created a technology solution that is becoming the standard for communicating internally and externally through the mobile device. After nearly 20 years of consulting for companies of all sizes and across all industries in their communications, I felt that now was the appropriate time to switch my area of focus albeit within the communications industry.
Unlike other tech companies and entrepreneurs looking to tap into the mobile communications opportunity (e.g. those trying to tackle messaging, file sharing and/or collaboration), I have witnessed firsthand the challenges internal communications professionals face when seeking to reach oftentimes disparate workforces. Up until the past couple of years before everyone had an Apple or Android mobile device, our profession was relegated to old school ways of communicating like newsletters, email, town hall meetings, posters and signage, etc. While effective in many respects, each of these methods doesn’t necessarily ensure the delivery of messages and content simultaneously and instantaneously to all employees. Even email has proven ineffective especially for companies with part-time employees who are not provided with company email addresses or because of “email overload.”
The last time there was a real change in the technological landscape was almost 25 years ago when the Internet became commercialized. As an industry, we took advantage of this by coming up with strategies and tactics to expedite the delivery of key messages to our targeted audiences. And we succeeded.
Well, the technological landscape has changed once again. The mobile device enables something that the Internet never did. And that is to have direct access to those who we want to communicate with. The question becomes how to go about taking advantage of this opportunity. How can we as communications professionals distribute information, content and messages directly to the pockets of the people we want to reach?
In founding APPrise Mobile, we recognized that mobile technology offers a solution to this problem. We also recognized that mobile is about more than just sending messages or file sharing or collaboration. It’s about all of these things combined. APPrise Mobile and our mobile app technology platform was developed to provide communications professionals with a holistic, cost effective, easy to use and easy to implement way to distribute information and content through the mobile device. We established our company to provide our industry with a solution that didn’t require technical know-how or heavy IT lifting.
In moving out of the consulting business and into tech, I am putting my money where my mouth is. I have greatly benefited both professionally and personally from being part of this great communications industry. It’s now my turn to give back.
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APPrise Mobile Welcomes
Who: Babson Capital Management is one of the world’s leading asset management firms with investment teams on four continents managing more than $200 billion in assets.
What Product: theEMPLOYEEapp
Interesting Fact: Babson Capital Management employees over 1,000 professionals worldwide with clients in more than 20 countries.