The one fundamental of great communication

We cannot silo external communication about our workplace (recruitment) and our work (marketing communication) from internal communication. Effective internal communication builds the engaged, consistently informed employee base that serves as our brand ambassadors. This adds credibility and lift to our efforts to recruit more great talent and to tell our buying audiences about the work they do.

The other day, I sat in on my company’s new staff orientation session. Our CEO asked the 20 or so participants, ranging from early to mature in their careers, to tell the group why they chose Cambridge Systematics (CS). Listening to their responses reminded me that there really is one, key fundamental that makes it possible for us to achieve great communication: a compelling corporate culture that lets us say great things and really mean them.

Here’s what my colleagues said about their choice to join our company:

  • We’ve earned a leadership reputation:
    • My professors recommended CS as the best.
    • When it comes to who takes on the big work, the answer always is “It had to be Cambridge.”
    • The company is nationally recognized in transportation planning.
    • We’re a top leader.

Several of the people brought in at senior positions said that they had made it a personal goal, years ago, to join Cambridge Systematics one day. I could hear in their voices the feelings of both accomplishment and appreciation for having joined this team.

  • They find the type of work, and the way we work, interesting and satisfying:
    • I came for the types of project and the breadth of work.
    • It’s small enough, yet large enough to attract big projects.
    • It’s the collaboration across the business lines and across geography.
  • We genuinely like working together:
    • There’s a sense of family.
    • It’s a great, creative, familial staff.
    • I chose CS for the people and the reputation.
    • I came for the great people.

A company that generates this level of confidence in our people, our work product, and our reputation is a company with an exceptional corporate culture. This provides all the fodder for communication excellence. The professional communicator and marketer needs only to tap into it. Cambridge Systematics doesn’t like to brag; there’s a little bit of a “build it and they’ll come” mentality that most marketers would find frustrating. But our story shows that, if you build a strong culture along with than the services and products, a genuine voice can rise above the noise.

Where marketing, internal, and recruitment communication success seems elusive, the problem may be an incongruity between the culture and the communications. We have to put forth a positive image but, unless reality backs it up, it comes across as hollow.

I feel fortunate that my company’s culture—and the people who have built and actively reinforce it every day—ensure that no one can miss the genuine substance behind our communications.