Research Update (September 2023)

A Tenth Project Partner

August has had some exciting developments for our project. A particular highlight of the month has been the addition of simplycommunicate to our growing family of project partners, now numbering ten. simplycommunicate specialises in internal communications in the digital age. Their website provides resources and they host the world’s largest global peer-to-peer community dedicated to the digital workplace and internal communication. We’re delighted to join forces and have already had productive discussions with Marc Wright, Patrick Hulbert, and Aish Rajavelu. Over the next two years, we look forward a mutually beneficial collaboration that will offer our project real-world insights and practical wisdom.

This month we also had the opportunity to feature in some engaging podcast conversations. We had a fascinating discussion with Katie Macaulay for an upcoming episode of her widely followed ‘The Internal Comms Podcast’. Stay tuned for the interview where we explore internal communication’s historical journey. Meanwhile, Joe Chick met with Michael Millward for the Abeceder Quotation Conversation. This is a series of audio learning conversations in which a discussion takes place around a quotation. Joe Chick was also interviewed by the Institute of Internal Communication, in which he discussed our experience at the IoIC festival and discussed what this partnership means for our project. We have been thrilled by these opportunities to bridge the gap between academia and real world of internal communication practice.

Research on the rhetoric of family

Our project has also been making excellent progress with its research and outputs. In August, we spotlighted an intriguing case study of Unilever. In August’s Source of the Month blog post, we examined Lever Brothers’ use of the ‘family’ rhetoric in the early twentieth century. Our research was based on the employee magazine Progress, which employed this familial discourse to foster a sense of unity and shared prosperity among their workforce. Lord Lever himself took on a paternal role, emphasising his position as the family’s head. We were particularly excited to be able to collaborate with Unilever on this, with the blog post appearing on Unilever’s blog as well as our own

Our History of Internal Communication podcast episode for the August dovetailed with our exploration of family rhetoric. We were delighted to be joined by Alex Gapud, a cultural anthropologist from the consultancy Scarlett Abbott. This episode gave a unique blend of academic expertise and practical insights. Alex took a step back to contemplate the essence of effective communication. With his expertise on human behaviour and culture, he illuminated the nuances that shape our sense of belonging and engagement within an organization.

Cover of the House Organ Magazine (Aug 1948). Held at the British Library, PP.5793.BOG.

Alongside these outputs, our archival research has been continuing. In a visit to the British Library, a particularly intriguing find several editions of the House Organ Magazine from 1947-51. This was a publication by the House Organ Institute, an organization that played a pivotal role in the foundation of the British Association of Industrial Editors that later evolved into the Institute of Internal Communication. In the upcoming month, we are looking forward to the project’s first visit to the Boots archive in Nottingham. This new case study will offer insights into another’s organization’s approach to internal communication and it will be fascinating to see how it contrasts our research so far.

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