AB Thinks  →  18th September 2019

IC health check – four tips from Dr Kevin Ruck

This week saw the return of The Internal Comms Podcast for its second season.

In the first episode, our regular host, AB’s managing director Katie Macaulay, spent a fascinating hour in the company of Dr Kevin Ruck.

A respected author, researcher, speaker and lecturer, Kevin is the co-founder of The PR Academy – the UK’s largest study centre for CIPR qualifications – and the author of one of the industry’s definitive textbooks.

With 30 years in IC under her belt, Katie is also no slouch when it comes to picking apart the fundamentals of the subject. So, the conversation that ensued delved deeply – yet entertainingly – to the roots of the industry.

Here are just a few of the highlights from when Katie met Kevin.

#1 – Push back: challenge the balance of power in the client relationship (at least a bit)
Sometimes IC people are just too nice, explained Kevin. And, as an industry, we could be a little bit more assertive. We need to ask where does this fit in with the plan and help us achieve our objectives?

“If you say ‘yes’ to everything then you just become the corporate postman or postwoman, and you’re seen in a much less credible light.

“It comes back to having confidence in your ability to say, ‘I am a professional, I do know what I am doing, and this request is not the best way to achieve our objectives’.”

#2 – Not propaganda: effective IC is a conversation, not a declaration from above
“IC people spend most of their time making sure employees are informed in the right way about things they expect to be informed about at the right time. That’s the fundamentals of IC.

“However, if that’s all organisations do – if they don’t give employees a chance to have a say about what’s going on, to comment on the information they’re getting, or for that to be part of an ongoing discussion – then IC is open to the accusation of it being propaganda.”

#3 – Myth universe: avoiding assumptions about your audience
“There’s a myth that employees don’t really want to know about big corporate stuff, that they just want to do their job and go home. Well, the employees I’ve interviewed said they were very interested. So, this is a myth we need to bust. And if we need to keep employees informed about what’s going on at that level then we need to ensure senior managers are out and about, visible, and doing that explanation.”

#4 – Act natural: avoiding a frequent mistake while getting your message across
“As one director I used to work with says: ‘It’s not about being a gameshow host on speed – senior managers are not meant to be professional communicators in that kind of way.’ Employees just want them to be themselves. Just be human and tell it as it is. Be authentic, be truthful and explain things. And if you don’t know the answer to a question, we accept that you can say you don’t know.”