A room with a view

or, the unique perspective of the Internal Communications professional

The term Internal Communications, when I started working as a press officer, didn’t even exist (but don’t push it, I had colour TV).
At the start of my career, Media was the holy grail, or rather, a trade considered as ‘sexy’ – I am merely quoting. I studied Media and PR many years ago and have been working in the field of communications ever since, in different industries.

True to my motto ‘you have a plan, then there is life’ , and due to professional circumstances, from Media I landed in the world of Internal Communications – still viewed by some as the poor parent of external comms. And how wrong are ‘some’! Guess what, we lead the show.

And this is why:

– A true Internal Communication professional has earned the trust of his leadership, trust into being able to link the dots that count between business objectives and communication strategy and mostly, meaningful deliverables that can be measured.

– Internal Communication professionals have a unique view point on the whole company – due to rolling up sleeves and working with departments, projects, operations, or just because they are the point of contact for everyone and anyone who wants to share anything. An Internal Communications professional will sit one day with the CEO and the leadership, and the next will be in the field of operations.

– Internal Communications professional have the most adaptable, transferable skills and is able to work in any type of industry and provide the intended results. A true Internal Communications professional can jump from IT to Finance, from Oil&Gas to NGOs. We are constantly rolling/moving along the (sometimes very steep) learning curve, and keep delivering.

We are an asset.

I remember starting an assignment in IT a few years ago, and convincing the CIO that the very reason he needed me was because I was actually not familiar with the field – ‘If I can’t understand it, it doesn’t exist’. I would make sure that everyone could relate to and understand what his team did, from using the right language, to providing the right context, and articulating the big picture in terms that everyone in the business could understand. I think he liked it, he kept calling me by my surname as a term of endearment (‘Pineau! I need to talk to you!’ was actually good news and I learnt not to jump out of my shoes after a while) and he always made sure I was right next to him during all his town halls (I guess his next comforting option was destroying pens during his live global webcasts, and I forbid that).

Working on a company strategy roll-out for all employees, or more granularly, helping departments and projects craft their own communication strategy or their storyline, mean talking business. And their business is yours.

The ‘ No-No’s’
– ‘I need a poster: if you hear this, keep calm and ask why. Then start the real conversation that will lead to a solution/outcome that is meaningful and value-adding (tip: you might need a few ‘ Why?’)
– Reporting to HR: HR is one of your stakeholders, relating to employee engagement, only one aspect of your trade
– Reporting to external communications: they are your colleagues, and are the agents, as you are, of the overall communications strategy.
…What are yours?

The ‘Yesses’:
– Reporting to the CEO: If you are lucky, you or your direct boss will report to the CEO. This won’t make your work easier, but you will have all the cards you need (privileged info or easy access for example) to build and deliver your best strategy.
– ‘We have a project and need your help’: self-explanatory, the opposite of ‘I need a poster’. Have a ball!
…What are yours?

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