Journal of Communication Management
Special Issue, Volume 27, Issue 3, 2021
Internal Communication during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Internal communication is central to organisational performance, successful change management, employee engagement and employee wellbeing (Ruck, 2020a; Ruck and Welch, 2012; Welch, 2011; Vercic et al. 2012). The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a renewed focus on internal communication as many organisations across the globe have had to urgently introduce new working practices, furlough employees and make sudden redundancies.

Despite its importance to practice, Welch and Jackson (2007) point out that there are considerable gaps in internal communication theory and theorists have called for research on its mandates, scope and focus. Although the field is burgeoning with a recent focus on internal crisis communication (Heide and Simonsson, 2014), keeping employees informed (Ruck, 2020b), leadership communication (Fairhurst and Uhl-Bien, 2012; Men, 2014; Men, 2015; Tourish, 2013), listening to employees (Ruck, Welch and Menara, 2017), organizational engagement (Saks, 2006; Rees et al. 2013) and social media and internal digital platforms (Cardon, 2020; Cardon, Yumi and Power, 2018; Ewing, Men, and O’Neil, 2019) it remains fragmented and under-researched.

Internal communication during the COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity for new analyses of theory and practice from cross-disciplinary and multi-cultural perspectives. Conceptual and evidence-based reviews that are associated with employee engagement and wellbeing will be of particular interest.

This special issue on “Internal communication during the COVID-19 Pandemic” will contribute to a developing field of international research. It invites contributions from scholars of internal communication management, strategic communication, crisis communication and employee engagement, as well as from digital workplace and leadership studies, and other related fields and disciplines. In doing so, it brings together researchers that have not had many interchanges in the past in order to develop a comprehensive perspective on internal communication during a crisis.

Potential Topics

We invite scholars to submit research papers – welcoming both theoretical/conceptual work as well as empirical studies – on a variety of related topics including, but not limited to the following:

  1. Internal crisis and risk communication, g. how different entities such as corporations, non-profits, government agencies, etc. use strategic communication to manage crisis, conflicts and mitigate risks when responding to the COVID-19 pandemic internally.
  2. Leadership communication during the pandemic. This includes, e.g., analyses that focus on the role of leadership at different levels in the organization, such as how CEOs and line managers/supervisors communicate with employees to keep employees informed, connected, engaged, and motivated and address employees’ needs and concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Digital media, technological platforms, telework, and novel communication channels. Such analyses may focus on evaluating the effectiveness of various digital channels such as enterprise social media, on-demand or live stream videos, and tele/video conferencing used in employee communication and engagement, or examine relevant issues such as employee boundary management, role conflict, and innovation and creativity in the technology-mediated environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Employee well-being and mental health during the pandemic. This includes, e.g., analyses that focus on communication measures, policies, tactics, or events that help employees deal with challenges related to workplace safety, stress management, emotional wellbeing, mental health, mindfulness, or work-life conflicts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  5. Change communication and management during the pandemic. This includes, e.g., analyses focusing on the role of communication in organizational change management during the COVID-19 pandemic. Such changes could be caused by the pandemic (e.g., layoffs, employee furlough, budget cuts, culture change, etc.) or preexisting planned changes that are interrupted by the pandemic.
  6. Internal relationship management and employee engagement during the pandemic, g., employee relationship cultivation context, antecedents, strategies, mechanism, and outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic; collaboration between communication, leadership, and human resources in keeping employees engaged during the uncertain and challenging times.
  7. Culture and internal communication during the pandemic. This includes, e.g., analyses that focus on the role of organizational culture in effective pandemic communication to employees and communication about organizational vision, values, and purpose. Analyses could also examine employee communication in a global, multi-cultural, or cross-cultural organizational context, e.g., internal communication for multi-national organizations, communicating to minority and diverse employees during the pandemic, etc.

The call for paper welcomes submissions focusing on one or more of these topics, but also on other related topics that fit the rationale of the special issue. Authors are requested to ensure the originality of their contributions, make a theoretical contribution (e.g., testing, creating, or extending theory), be innovative, interesting, and novel, and offer implications for practice.

  • Deadline for full papers                     October 1, 2020
  • Reviews of full papers provided       December 1, 2020
  • Deadline for revised submissions    January 15, 2021
  • Second round of reviews provided   March 15, 2021
  • Final versions due                                May 1, 2021
  • Papers transferred to production      June1, 2021
Submission Guidelines for Quick Reference

Full papers will receive two double-blind expert review. Accepted articles will be published in Journal of Communication Management Volume 27, Issue 3 in 2021.

Questions should be directed to the Guest Editors

Dr. Kevin Ruck, FCIPR, is the editor and co-author of the fourth edition of Exploring Internal Communication: Towards Informed Employee Voice published by Routledge. He is the course leader for the UK Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Specialist Diploma in Internal Communication, delivered by PR Academy. His current research interests include listening, leadership communication and organisational engagement. Contact Kevin at

Dr. Rita Men, APR, is an associate professor of public relations at the University of Florida and chief research editor of the Institute for Public Relations’ Organizational Communication Research Center. She is the co-author of Excellence in Internal Communication Management published by Business Expert Press. Her research interests include internal communication, leadership communication, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurial communication. Contact Rita at


Cardon, P. 2020. Communication on internal digital platforms, in Ruck. K. (ed), Exploring Internal Communication, Towards Informed Employee Voice, 4th Edition. Abingdon: Routledge.

Cardon, P., Yumi, H.  Power, G. 2018. Leadership communication on internal digital platforms, emotional capital, and corporate performance: The case for leader-centric listening. International Journal of Business Communication.

Ewing, M., Men, L. R., & O’Neil, J. 2019. Using Social Media to Engage Employees: Insights from Internal Communication Managers. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 13(2), pp.110-132.

Fairhurst, G.T., Uhl-Bien, M. 2012. Organizational discourse analysis (ODA): Examining leadership as a relational process. The Leadership Quarterly. 23(6), pp.1043-1062.

Heide, M., Simonsson, C. 2014. Developing internal crisis communication: New roles and practices of communication professionals. Corporate Communications: An International Journal. (19)2.

Men, R. 2014. Why leadership matters to internal communication: Linking transformational leadership, symmetrical communication, and employee outcomes. Journal of Public Relations Research, 26(3), pp.256-279.

Men, R. (2015). The internal communication role of the chief executive officer: Communication channels, style, and effectiveness. Public Relations Review, 41(4), pp.461-471.

Rees, C., Alfes, A., Gatenby, M. 2013. Employee voice and engagement: connections and consequences. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 24(14), pp.2780-2798

Ruck, K. 2020a. Internal communication and the associations with organizational purpose, culture and strategy, in Ruck. K. (ed), Exploring Internal Communication, Towards Informed Employee Voice, 4th Edition. Abingdon: Routledge.

Ruck, K. 2020b. Keeping employees informed: Adopting an employee-centric perspective, in Ruck. K. (ed), Exploring Internal Communication, Towards Informed Employee Voice, 4th Edition. Abingdon: Routledge.

Ruck, K., Welch, M. 2012. Valuing internal communication: management and employee perspectives. Public Relations Review. 38(2), pp.294-302.

Ruck, K., Welch, M., Menara, B. 2017. Employee voice: An antecedent to organisational engagement? Public Relations Review. (43)5, pp.904-914.

Saks, A. M. 2006 Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement. Journal of Managerial Psychology. 21(7), pp.600-619.

Tourish, D. 2014. Leadership, more or less?: A processual, communication perspective on the role of agency in leadership theory. Leadership. 10(1), pp.79-98.

Vercic, A.T., Vercic, D. Sriramesh, K. 2012. Internal Communication: Definition, Parameters, and the Future. Public Relations Review. 38(2), pp.223-230.

Welch, M. (2011) The evolution of the employee engagement concept: communication implications. Corporate Communications: An International Journal. Vol. 16(4) pp. 328-346.

Welch, M., Jackson, P.R. 2007. Rethinking Internal Communication: A Stakeholder Approach. Corporate Communications: An International Journal. 12(2), pp.177-198.