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At Voice Live in November, we are considering what organisations will look like in the future – and the impact a new strategic and technological landscape will have on internal communication. As in-house IC professionals brace for change, creative and communication agencies must likewise evolve.

When we chatted to Tom Abbott, partner for strategy at 44 Communications, about his presentation at next month’s Voice Live, he’d just come off a call with a client.

“In 30 minutes, we covered artificial intelligence, virtual reality, holograms, creating exciting experiences for employees – the whole gamut of reusable content," he says. "Over the next five to ten years, that will become the norm.

“Clients are not after a single shot. And what they’re asking for has stepped way beyond a newsletter and a poster – it’s experiential and digital, but very real.”

Making sense of the science of internal comms

At Voice Live in London on 19 November, Tom will share his thoughts on why agencies must, more than ever, prepare to be flexible and embrace ideas for reusing content efficiently and carefully.

As much as channels will remain the method of hooking readers in a message, in-house internal communicators will need to know more about the science of connecting employees – and agencies will be pivotal in helping them make sense of this.

“Beyond the actual art and craft, good communication requires a solid understanding of the dynamics of operating in the new world, with an employee base that is looking for many different things,” says Tom. “It’s about the behavioural economics and psychological drivers underpinning the way people interact with brands, organisations and each other.”

This might change the traditional agency model, with new disciplines and specialisms needed as a complementary offering alongside writing, design and production.

“We need to think beyond the page and screen. Agencies will need to guide IC professionals on something that has currency in the minds of managers and leaders – something with real meaning and intent.”

Agencies must speak the language of business

Internal comms’ transition to strategic adviser and, increasingly, strategic driver of value within organisations is something agencies will “have to get to grips with”, insists Tom.

“Agencies that don’t fully understand the deep-rooted connection between engagement and communication with the bottom line will struggle. We need to speak the language of business and not communication. Agencies do that by getting a sense of what their client’s organisation is trying to achieve, its long term goals, how it is shifting and reacting, and the skills, capabilities and behaviours needed to be successful in five years’ time. Agencies can help inform and navigate those changes.”

Agencies need to be part of that conversation about what their clients want the employee experience to look like in 10 years’ time, so that today they can attract the workforce of tomorrow.

“My son will start his GCSEs in a few years,” reflects Tom. “We need to start planning how we will create employee experiences for people like him – helping organisations get ready for the employees of the future.”

Tom Abbott will be speaking on our Future of IC panel at Voice Live on 19 November, and will be joined by Shan Chatoo, group head of corporate communications for OCS Group – on the increasing importance of internal and external comms working together; Simon Greenman, co-founder, Best Practice AI – on the impact of artificial intelligence and industry 4.0 on internal comms; Luke Kyte, head of operations, Reddico – on the value of offering a flexible working model; and Justine Stevenson, head of internal communication, London Stock Exchange – on the need to maintain strong journalism and storytelling in the digital age of short-form content

Click here for more information on Voice Live and to book your place.

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