I’ve long felt that HR, Communications and Marketing need to be closer together. However, having given it some thought, the case is clear to collapse them into one. Without having a snazzy title for the function to mind, I will simply refer to it as the ‘Experience’ function for now.
There has long been a link between HR and Communications in the notable cousin they both share called ‘Internal Communications’. So we have a place to start. For me, these three functions are all about talking to people and are a voice – be that employees, the media, customers and shareholders. But looking deeply at them, they also share another important component, in that they all articulate ‘experiences’ – the experience of a product/service through to the experience of working in a particular organisation.
They have a commonality in using both soft and hard measures to define success, from brand engagement and ROI to employee engagement and profit per employee. This is completely different to the way Finance and IT measure their performance for example.
HR can learn from Marketing by applying marketing principles and campaign management to the way it works. From experience, I have seen poorly defined and communicated interventions that leave a business resistant to the amazing work we do. We should think of our interventions in the guise of products, continually seek our business’ feedback and launch/communicate them with impact; all the while knitting these together to define the ‘experience’ we want employees to have.
Marketing can learn from HR by using the rich people data we have to hand (think internal audience segmentation, engagement, talent and culture data) to glean new insights about the organisation and use this information to better understand the brand, build stronger advocacy and position the business for greater success. This is about TOTAL brand management, not just the externally facing side of it.
The skills required to work in these functions has a higher degree of overlap than one might think; the ability to articulate ROI on interventions, the focus on brand and engagement, interpreting and using quantitative and qualitative data, the balance of rational thinking vs. intuition and using feedback to improve the products and services on offer. Add to that the usual list of business requisites such as strategic thinking, change management and so on.
The real benefit lies at the heart of the intersection – the world is becoming crowded in most markets, with many voices. Brands are seen as the key to helping people make decisions about who they join and where they buy. Brand is critical to both functions and underpins the strategic aims of both business plans (after having seen many); it plays to attracting and retaining talent, shaping culture and influencing decisions as well as building trust, growing market share and increasing consumer loyalty.
I don’t have all the finite details worked out (yet!) but am clear that as organisations evolve and seek to secure their unique place in the world, how they speak and how they are seen will be driven ever closer together. And what an exciting function it will be.
Tell me what you think; have I gone crazy? Are you nodding your head vigorously or have I intrigued you a little?
I’d love to hear what you think…