The Secret Marketer: why internal comms should sit with the marketing department

Secret Marketer

What is marketing? That is a question we have all posed, and been asked, on many occasions.

But my question is more about what ‘functions’ go into different marketing departments, dependent on which company you work for.

For some, the marketing department is the centre of gravity of a business – and I don’t just mean it is where the people who have all the agency lunches sit.

They drive the strategy of the business, they dictate what the sales team sell, and own the profit and loss for each product line. In a different organisation, they might be solely a communications team – responsible for the brand and all forms of advertising. Most are somewhere in between.

The skills you use to get across to customers are the same ones you employ to grab the attention of staff

Within my business, the role of internal (or employee) communications sits within HR, not marketing. I have fought (and lost) this argument many times. For me, employees are simply a very important segment of your audience. The skills you use to get your key messages to customers, prospects and wider stakeholders are the same skills that you employ in grabbing the attention of your staff – whether that is in the form of an internal memo/email, a company newsletter, a poster on a noticeboard or a memorable employee event. You still have to get your value proposition right, choose your media appropriately, get the right creative expression, keep it simple (stupid!) and have the appropriate call to action. So why do companies put the responsibility in HR?

Yes, HR is about looking after people within the organisation, but is that any different to the sales team, who control our new prospects, the account team, who look after existing customers, or the board, who are worried about our wider stakeholders? Those people are comfortable with marketing driving the communication channel, so why not HR with internal comms?

It doesn’t seem right and it adds complexity to the process of launching a new product or starting a new campaign, as you have to brief it into a separate group of people. Actually, it is far more efficient to deal with it in the round, as just another action on the campaign plan. And while HR has the responsibility, I am pretty sure that if things go wrong with the launch… the fingers will point at Billy Muggins over here. Such is the life of a poor marketer…

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