AB Thinks  →  9th October 2023

A storied history of internal comms

You must know the past to understand the present. And so, to drive internal communications forward, shouldn’t we know how far it’s come?

Fortunately, two academics have received a considerable grant from the UK government to dig into our profession’s past. And they joined Katie Macaulay on a recent episode of The Internal Comms Podcast to talk about their research.

Dr Michael Heller and Dr Joe Chick are part of a wider research team writing an institutional history of internal communications in the UK. Their work will give us practitioners a clearer sense of our occupational history and, in turn, enhance our professional identity.

By mapping out the history of IC they’ll hope to answer when, where and why internal communications became a recognised and established profession within organisations across the country.

For example, in the late 19th century, a company magazine was a rarity and one of the first examples they’ve discovered is from Prudential insurance company. That magazine, EPIS, was written by colleagues, for colleagues and simply featured a collection of poetry and literature, a far cry from most of today’s IC output.

(One of our favourite early examples is another ‘by the people, for the people publication’, which was published back in the 1840s. The Lowell Offering was written by female mill workers in Massachusetts, sharing much about life in the factory.)

In 2023 we know the humble employee magazine still exists in a number of organisations. Joe and Michael’s research will chart how these have changed.

And if you want to know where IC is today? Well, you’ve got 86 episodes of The Internal Comms Podcast to find out…