Posts Tagged ‘H&K; Hill & Knowlton: Change; Internal Comms; Internal Communications;’

How does comms work with a PMO?

posted by Scott McKenzie

My friend Henri asked me for a blog post on how we communicators should work with a Programme Management Office (PMO). To be fair she asked me for this quite some time ago… Sorry Henri it’s been a busy summer. But here goes…

Our C&IC team here at H&K has plenty of experience working with big organisations from RBS to Shell; Nokia to BP; HP to Yahoo! Our common view is that the PMO is ultimately responsible for driving and managing different programmes across the organisation.

Often there are competing programmes taking place at the same time. Perhaps a new finance system is being rolled out at the same time as an HR policy.

If there is no alignment and planning around the communications then employees might be hit by competing messages at the same time. For the busy employee it is difficult to know what the priorities should be.

When I worked in retail banking we always looked at how easy it was for our branch staff to absorb the different messages we were sending out. Especially during times of major change.

We were very conscious that information overload could lead to frustrated and de-motivated employees. And worst of all – inertia. Employees who were so confused they literally did nothing!

We know that only one third of all change programmes are successful. We also know that where programmes have been successful communications have played a critical part. In our view PMOs need to actively work with their communications teams.

What are the different roles communications can play in a PMO?

In our experience, most PMOs are not set up with the right level of  internal communications and change management skills and experience.

And yet the PMO needs to understand who their audiences are, what channels to use and when and how to create clear and engaging messages. It is about finding the right balance so the PMO avoids information overload; while also ensuring key employee groups have received sufficient, relevant information. 

There are three models a PMO can use when building internal communications capabilities:

1) Internal communicators established in the PMO

2) Internal communication team providing counsel and advice to the PMO

3) Train PMO staff on how to communicate and provide them with tools and techniques

Each model has its pros and cons. Your decision will mainly be driven around the communications resources you have available.

There are some questions you should ask to determine the appropriate model for your organisation. Examples of questions are:

  • What communication resources (skills and experience) are available?
  • What are the objectives of the change program (s)?
  • What is the reach?
  • How well are the audiences understood?
  • What channels are being used?
  • Are messages clear and consistent?

Of course, these are just a selection of questions we normally ask our clients in order to help them determine the best set-up around change communications and PMOs.

If you are interested and want to find out more drop me an email at

Change: the magic pill?

posted by Scott McKenzie

Long term followers of my blog will know that I am often entertained / educated by Ben Goldacre and his Bad Science column. Ben frequently talks about our modern-day obsession with “magic” pills.

Given the easy choice of popping a pill versus the hard choice of exercising more, eating and drinking less crap… we will take the pill.

The problem is that we know that the pill won’t really work. It won’t be long-term. It won’t be sustainable. We know we really need to change our lifestyle.

I think you can make the same point about implementing strategy. We see business leaders and high-end consultancies like our friends at McKinsey and BCG develop a great strategy. This is the pill.

You just need to swallow it and things will get better.

Trouble is it’s not that simple. Changing processes, systems, culture, people, etc takes time. And it’s hard work. 

It just like taking more exercise and eating the right things.

I know it’s much tougher. But it’s the right thing to do.

Go on – you’ll feel better for it!