Benchmark 2016: Communication belongs to the entire organisation

Published on 9 February 2017

The communication function is changing in terms of control, position and organisation. This is evident from the 2016 Communication Benchmark carried out by the management consulting firm Berenschot. “Communication is increasingly becoming an integrated communications platform instead of a separate communications department,” says consultant Robert Wester. “It connects the internal world with the external world, maintains control over communication and enables better communication between employees and key stakeholders.” Ten large organisations participated in the benchmark.

The 2015 benchmark already indicated that the character of the press office was changing and that internal communication was gaining interest. This year, the benchmark shows that because of the ongoing changes in the media landscape organisations are increasingly investing in their own channels, own content and in the development of their own story. It is not the press officer or the communications adviser, but the employees who are becoming important in promoting and supporting the reputation and the image of the organisation. They are becoming ambassadors, facilitated by the communications department.

The size of the communication function is around 1.8% of the total organisation (2015: 1.7%). The emphasis is mainly on external communication, but the share of internal communication is increasing significantly compared with 2015. The communications budget of an organisation remains difficult to estimate because communication activities also take place independently of the communications department.

Communication across the organisation

The communication function is the strategic discussion partner of the top, but also of the business in the primary process. Cooperation with other departments (particularly HR, Strategy) is increasing, whereby communication will belong more and more to the entire organisation. The impact of communication on the environment is also growing, whereby stakeholder management is becoming increasingly more important. Stakeholders are becoming involved with or in communication and more targeted communication is taking place per target group.

The communication strategy is logically embedded in the strategy in all participating organisations. With a view to the changing media landscape, it would be a valuable asset to have each employee promoting the communication strategy via the various types of media. It will strengthen the development towards a communicating organisation. A corporate story can support employees in its implementation. This will involve a strong role for the communications department, both during the realisation and in helping to keep the story alive throughout the organisation. The communications department will have an increasingly bigger role to play in facilitating, directing, advising and supporting the employees in terms of communication in line with the overall strategy of the organisation. The department will act as an umbrella network and will be responsible for making the organisation more communicative.

More and more technology

For the rapid dissemination of information, personalisation of communication and image communication, organisations are relying more and more on technology, the use of data and new digital resources. The press office is playing an increasingly bigger role in collating, editing and publishing transparent and authentic information. This often happens in so-called (multidisciplinary) newsrooms or media labs.

About the Communication Benchmark

With the Communication Benchmark Berenschot provides insight into the organisation of communication in various organisations. Ten organisations participated in the second edition including De Nederlandsche Bank (The Dutch Bank), the Municipality of The Hague, Inspectie voor de Gezondheidszorg (The Healthcare Inspectorate), Nederlandsche Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways), Onderzoeksraad voor Veiligheid (Dutch Safety Board), Province of Noord-Holland, RDW (National Vehicle and Driving Licence Registration Authority), Rijkswaterstaat (Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management), Stedin and Vitens. Interested organisations can register now for the 2017 edition, which will be carried out in September. In return, participants will receive a specific report.

Robert Wester

Robert Wester

Senior managing consultant