A quick look at blogs and websites recently has got me thinking.
Are internal communicators different in the US to the rest of the world?
What got me thinking was the reaction to a recent post I made about writing skills. My comments about the relative unimportance of writing upset a few people - most of whom were in North America.
The comments I received from this side of the pond were generally complementary and supportive.
So I've been taking a bit of a look at blogs recently and, on a wholly unscientific basis, have started to wonder if there is somethng in this point of difference.
For a start they don't call it 'internal' comms - it's 'Employee Comms' over there.
And there is a preoccupation with writing and tactics - elsewhere it's all about giving CEO counsel, supporting business strategy and producing really scary powerpoint charts.
Compare Ragan.com and Melcrum.com to see what I mean. The former is dominated by technical content, whilst the latter likes to position itself as the forum for senior people (albeit with a few money-spinning diversions into Sharepoint courses!).
And look at the blog of comms doyen Shel Holtz. Here is a posting about the need for comms people to explain who customers are to staff - is there something significant in the fact that someone so highly regarded in the business in the US is blogging about something many people elsewhere would see as comms 101? (No prizes for pointing out that I often rattle on about basics).
This isn't one of those 'Isn't the US rubbish' posts. Why? Because I think the US has been at IC longer than the rest of us - the sheer distances involved in running corporations in a mono-lingual market mean that Americans got a head start on the rest of us. They've been doing newsletters and IC while we were still sending messages around by butler and cleft stick.
I also don't think that the issue boils down to "we're startegists and they're tacticians" as there are plenty of both sorts over here in Europe.
I have no real basis for saying this, but I suspect it's something to do with different employment traditions on either side of the Atlantic. The European approach to workplace relations is a funny mix of obligation to protect labour from the excesses of capital and a view that people work harder when they are loved. I doubt many US CEO's would be happily signing up for an EU style employment framework.
My conclusion? I think Brits can forget that the US is a foreign country, with foreign traditions and an alien culture. When it comes to comparing professional practice in the field of communications it's wrong to apply similar standards