Does the presence of corporate silos affect a company’s internal and external communications activities. This is the focus of this article that is based on 28 deep interviews with U.S. communications executives to examine whether the current approach for many of treating internal communications as a de facto external communications activity is beneficial or not. It has been considered that such ‘dual oversight’ of internal and external communications activities by a senior executive may weaken the impact of internal communications, since employees are treated as ‘just another’ stakeholder to be communicated to, even though the activity reduces silo domination and provide other benefits.

A concise but interesting review of the literature is made, focussing on stakeholder theory, organisational power and integrated communications and marketing. Research questions have been formed to examine how internal communicators define integrated marketing communications, how companies hire and deploy personnel to undertake such activities, and how internal communications activities in companies are structured and what impact this can have on the power and influence dynamic as well as on global and cultural practical matters.

The method of sampling seemed acceptable for this type of investigatory research, based around extensive interviewing, and the disclosed mix of companies was relevant. Data analysis followed standard good practice. The authors clearly state limitations and desires for extended research, whilst noting that generalisations should not be drawn, even if one can reasonably infer a possible commonality within similar enterprises.

From the analysed data, it emerged that there was a perceived conflict between functional corporate silos and integration. Some respondents perceived an ‘encroachment’ by external communications activities that diluted internal communications efforts and roles. Clearly one can appreciate that smaller companies may need to consolidate activities, although larger enterprises do have the scope to keep activities separate, yet cooperate as relevant. The jury may remain out for the best option, but the analysis was interesting and thought-provoking.

The discussion was credible, highlighting areas of cooperation that are extant between both activity groups and considering areas that could be improved for mutual benefit. Yet silo-based activities were cited as barriers to progress, even with an element of dual oversight by senior executives. To that aim, the authors recommended some beneficial and issue-mitigation strategies for consideration.

To conclude, an interesting article that focusses on a small element that has much broader relevance.

Neill, M.S. and Jiang, H., 2017. Functional silos, integration & encroachment in internal communication. Public Relations Review. DOI:10.1016/j.pubrev.2017.06.009

A post-publication review of this article that appears on Publons.