Book Review: Successful Employee Communications


simply went off to the Ellwood Atfield gallery for the launch of an important new book in the internal communication canon: Successful Employee Communications by Sue Dewhurst and Liam FitzPatrick. (Use the simply code AMKSEC20 to get a 20% discount this June).

Why should you buy it? Well firstly there is the pedigree of Sue and Liam, who between them invented and ran the Black Belt Courses for Melcrum. Around half of practitioners in the UK went through this course at some point in their career.  The course is no more since Melcrum was devoured by CEB and then Gartner, but Sue and Liam have continued as senior practitioners and trainers in their own right. The lessons they have learnt over the past couple of decades are now captured in this practical handbook.

It covers all the bases that any IC pro should know: how to conduct a communications audit, building a comms plan, understanding audiences, managing your messages, channel management, line manager comms, change comms, sharing bad news and so on. The chapters are as solid as you could wish for and are backed up with case studies from Unilever, KPMG, John Lewis, the BBC and Centrica.

I found the layout accessible with plenty of break out panels featuring useful models like Sue’s ARROW framework to use with senior managers when they bring you a knotty issue to communicate. You can dip in and out and always find a nugget based on real examples. No grand philosophising here – it really does do what it says on the tin.

The bibliography is pretty comprehensive and references many of the acknowledged experts in the field. Some are quite old school but the authors also reference more modern thinkers from wider fields such as Malcolm Gladwell.

You won’t find much here about social tools and the digital workplace, but if you want a classical grounding in the important fundamentals of internal communications you won’t find a better place to invest your twenty pounds.

Marc Wright is publisher of simplycommunicate and editor of the Gower Handbook of Internal Communications