The audience is in charge: Making the case for the new internal communication model

What are the key issues about blogs, wikis and other communication channels that senior internal communication managers need to be thinking about right now in the context of effective employee engagement?

In my conversations with senior internal communicators in mid-size and large companies in some European countries, I continue to encounter blank looks or comments like “What’s a blog?” I’ve yet to hear “Yes, we’re embracing these tools as part of our development of the new participatory communication environment.” (Shel Holtz is probably the leading evangelist for participatory communication: more information on his blog.)

On 16 September, I will be presenting at a conference in Amsterdam on internal communication and participating in a round-table discussion forum. The conference, entitled Internal Communications 2004: Driving Business Performance through Employee Engagement, is aimed at senior-level directors and managers in organizations who have employee communication responsibilities. The event organizer, Marcus Evans Conferences, tell me they have over 80 confirmed and paid-up participants so far from all over Europe.

What a golden opportunity! My theme is all to do with these channels and the changes in communication processes they present as part of the new model in employee engagement: participatory communication.

How will I use this golden opportunity to capture the imagination of such a concentration of senior internal communicators?

Even though my initial research on the web and in blogs has turned up very little indeed of substance on how blogs and wikis are being used by companies as an employee engagement tool, I believe my planned approach should at least get people thinking hard about such channels and why they matter today.

I have 45 minutes to make the case. Here’s the outline theme description I provided to the event organizers. It’s deliberately broad which gives me quite a bit of leeway:

The Audience is In Charge – Weblogs, Wikis and Changing Communication Models

Are weblogs and wikis the Next Big Thing in organizational communication, or just a passing trend of interest only to geeks? What are weblogs and wikis anyway?

Such technology tools are radically changing conventional communication models. You need to know why they are of critical importance to organizations in engaging with employees and other stakeholders.

  • The rise of the blogosphere: What every communicator needs to know about weblogs and wikis.
  • The pioneers and early adopters: A look at how successful companies like Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Macromedia have embraced weblogs and empowered employees to gain business advantage.
  • The audience now controls the message: How to embrace the change in control.
  • Risks? Yes, there are plenty.
  • The new participatory communication environment: Pros and cons for effective employee engagement.
  • What you need to do next.

What am I missing, though? What would be the over-riding thing that absolutely must be in such a presentation to such an audience?

I’m especially keen to hear from anyone whose company has already developed (and implemented) clear policies on the use of blogs, wikis, etc, in the workplace and what your experiences are. Anything you can share and that I use will be appropriately credited in my presentation (or not, if you prefer). And I will email you a copy of the actual PowerPoint I use.


2 thoughts on “The audience is in charge: Making the case for the new internal communication model

  1. Interesting stuff. I hope you put your presentation online. My company is clueless about weblogs but I hope to change that in the comings months.
    On my local church website I’ve begun to integrate feeds starting with RSS Calendar ( Next, I will create a weblog for the pastor as tool to communicate with our online members.

  2. Thanks Roy.
    I do plan to post commentary about the conference including at least elements from my presentation.
    Good ideas for your church website especially RSS!

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