The rapid growth of internal communication
About the author
Richard Bailey FCIPR MPRCA is editor of our Insights, formerly PR Place. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.
There are now over 45,000 people in the UK working in internal communication (IC) according to new research carried out by the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) and communications consultancy theblueballroom.
To date there’s been a lot of conjecture about the numbers, and these findings are considerably higher than previous estimates of around 20,000 suggesting an upward trend.
This research is the first robust study to provide an in-depth analysis of the IC population today. The research is made up of individuals who either work wholly or partly in internal communication within the private, public and charity sectors.
From a study of 1,000 private companies with IC professionals listed on LinkedIn, an estimated:
- 0.24 people in a medium size business (50-250 employees) work in an IC role (0.2% of the workforce)
- 4 people in a large business (250+ employees) work in an IC role (0.019% of the workforce)
To accurately represent the UK market, multiplying those figures by 30,000 to account for the medium-sized companies, and 6,000 for the larger ones, we estimate that:
- There are around 24, 000 people working in IC in large companies in the UK
- There are around 7,200 people working in IC in medium-sized companies in the UK
We then grossed up the number, allowing for a further 25% of the potential market who are not on LinkedIn and then added another 10% to represent those with employee engagement in their title, not internal communication.
This comes to 45,760 – in excess of 45,000.
These findings occur in the context of a growing body of evidence regarding the impact of effective IC in achieving overall business objectives, and of the influential government-backed Engage for Success programme which has highlighted the importance of employee engagement in maximising the competitiveness of UK PLC.
IoIC chief executive Steve Doswell commented: “These figures confirm that internal communication has really come of age as a profession with a significant number of individuals across the UK now firmly identified with the discipline. It’s encouraging to see how organisations are recognising the value of IC to their bottom line.
“We know the numbers involved are small compared with sectors such as HR or marketing, but it is clear that we now have a sizeable profession and it is important this is operating to best effect. The Institute believes these findings reinforce the need for high standards, sound governance and professional development to ensure the quality and competence of an IC workforce that is so important to consistent business success.”
Sheila Parry, managing director of theblueballroom, said: “We’ve known for years that people are looking after IC from many different functions and at different levels, and so they haven’t been easy to quantify. The IoIC decided that it wanted to address this and so our agency came up with a way to do it. We hope this opens some debate not only about how many IC practitioners there are but about how much impact they can have in their organisations. And we always want to know more – so that the IoIC can serve the needs of the sector and of their employers.”
The full survey is available to download from www.ioic.org.uk