The ESRC-funded project ‘An Institutional History of Internal Communication in the UK’ is delighted to welcome a new project partner: simplycommunicate. With many shared interests between the project and simplycommunicate, the partnership will bring great benefits to our research.
In 2005, simplycommunicate was founded by Marc Wright. With the market for consultancy work on traditional forms of internal comms already dominated by Melcrum, simplycommunicate targeted new digital methods. Marc began this venture having gained experience of internal communication since the 1980s through Crown Business Communications and MCA Live.
We were delighted to have Marc join us for an episode of the History of Internal Communication podcast, which will be released later in September. The discussion covered a wide range of fascinating insights into his experiences of the sector. On the rise of internal marketing in the 1990s, Marc talked about some of the extravagant sums that large companies spent on ventures that lacked strategy and only brought short term benefits to employee engagement.
Patrick Hulbert (Content and Communications Director) and Aish Rajavelu (Content and Community Manager) have been discussing the ways in which the project and simplycommunicate can collaborate. Patrick has a background in journalism and communications, having worked as an editor for various publications and worked in PR and communications roles for Oxford University Press and the British Franchise Association. Aish comes from a background in marketing and communications, having worked for companies such as Cream and Seenit.
By its nature, the History of Internal Communication project is interested in the changing approaches to communication across time. This makes simplycommunicate a particularly exciting partner. Specialising in digital communication, it’s very much riding the wave of the recent developments. In our podcast interview with Marc, there was an interesting discussion about the opportunities and obstacles that new technology can present. This shared interest ties in with our own blog post It’s Working a Tweet on how new technologies have sometimes been used enthusiastically at the expense of clear communication.
Benefits of the Partnership
The partnership will help us to advance research and knowledge into the field of internal communication. Our project is focussed on uncovering the historical roots and evolution of internal communication in the UK. As a hub of expertise, simplycommunicate is invested in the field and its staff have a strong passion for the history of his occupation. This shared fascination for understanding the past and present of internal communication lays the groundwork for valuable insights. Patrick Hulbert says:
“The project focussing on an institutional history of internal communication will go back as far as 140 years. While simply has been at the heart of this development for the past 20 years, in that time, the role of the internal communicator has evolved dramatically, to the extent where the department is barely recognisable in 2023 from when simply was founded in 2005.
“simply continues to push the dial for internal communicators to have greater strategic input within organisations, while being afforded the tools to reach their employees with meaningful communication. We firmly believe we have had an impact on the industry since the company’s inception, and will continue to do so. We are part of its history, and are committed to being part of its future.
“This partnership aligns with our statement mission to improve every employee experience through effective human and digital communication by looking towards IC’s past and sense of place and belonging, and its impact on the employee journey through time. We are delighted to have been asked.”
The partnership will help contribute to the shared goal of building a community. The ‘simplycommunity’ initiative aligns with the project’s goal of supporting the internal communication occupations’ efforts to foster a sense of community among its practitioners. Both simplycommunicate and our ESRC project recognise the value of professionals coming together, sharing experiences, and learning from one another.
We are particularly looking forward to the access to expertise that the partnership with simplycommunicate will bring. Their team comprises individuals rooted in the field of internal communication, with a great understanding of its challenges and opportunities. This wealth of knowledge can provide valuable guidance to the ESRC project.
We are taking our research into the history of internal comms right up to the present day. Yet one thing that historical archives cannot provide us with is contemporary insights. This is where our project partners like simplycommunicate are absolutely vital to our efforts. This collaboration allows us to connect the past with the present. We hope that, in return, an understanding of IC’s history will provide practitioners with a sense of identity and perspective that will allow them to advance the field.
From the outset, our project has aimed to engage with practitioners at least as much as academic audiences. Through the ‘simplycommunity’ global network, we will gain a chance to work with a large community of internal communicators. This community engagement can provide the project with access to a diverse range of professionals who can contribute their experiences and viewpoints to the research.
The objective is that we do not simply engage with practitioners but also have an impact. The events hosted by simplycommunicate, such as ‘simplyIC’ and ‘simplyEXP’, provide us with a valuable platform. The History of Internal Communication team will be running a session at ‘simplyIC’ where we will share insights such as how internal communicators can use their organizations strategically to tell a narrative. Equally, these events will be a fantastic opportunity for us to gain insights from industry professionals.
The Partnership going forward
Embarking on this partnership highlights the important point that this project is not just about the past. It’s about the future. Our research will be feeding directly into the efforts of partners such as simplycommunicate. Through studying its history, our research is demonstrating the critical role that communication plays in organizational success and employee engagement.
Having a past is also an essential step in professionalising internal comms. Heritage is important for a profession having a distinctive image. It also helps to foster a sense of community, where experiences and best practices are shared and celebrated.