I have a colleague Nicholine Hayward who blogs about planning and advertising issues. Even if she didn't work at our place I'd plug her writing.
In particular she is always interesting on the subject of research and communications. It was she who put me onto the phenomenon of how people describe their employment relationship and their levels of motivation (motivated people work 'for' someone - disengaged people work 'at' somewhere).
This posting from her looks at the types of story-telling CEO which includes some fascinating research about the persona a CEO projects and how the world responds.
However, I was most taken by her observation that strong CEO's are the voice of the customer -a message which has to interest internal communicators.
My experience is that organisations tend to care about what the CEO cares about. If the CEO rants on about cost people obsess about cost. If he or she cares about product, product becomes the subject on everyone's lips.
And when the CEO talks with disdain about something the message flows down the organisation. If you doubt me compare Michael O'Leary's rhetoric and most people's experience of Ryanair's customer service.
Clearly there is often some wishful thinking in here. We all know plenty of employees who neither care nor understand what the bosses are on about. My hypothesis depends on the subject of the CEO's enthusiasm being understandable and supportable.
A CEO who wants to talk about CFROI or EBITDA is probably not going to set many worlds on fire.
But everyone like people don't they? A CEO who can bring to life a concern for real people and how the organisation impacts on their lives has to have an impact on customer service.
So what is the role of the internal communicator?
For starters it's about coaching the boss to tell specific stories about the subject in hand. Get them away from spewing data on customer satisfaction figures or average revenue per user. Instead get them telling the stories about real people, stories that people can relate to and which have a suitable 'ah ha' moment.
And then it's about finding opportunities for that story to be heard authentically. Increasingly I'm convinced that video or audio are more potent carries of this message than the CEO profile. Nicholine's observation is well made here - people want to hear direct,; not via reportage or features in the corporate magazine.
You can't be authentic if someone is doing it for you.