Before going full time in internal communications (IC), I mixed it up alongside professional public relations, press relations, events and marketing, but why did I choose to just focus on one of these in the end, and why was that IC?
Why I chose IC
My PR years
I'm someone who likes to make the most of a situation, but I've learnt over the years not to make that an unnecessarily exhaustive experience.
I learnt the beauty of strategic thought during my degree in Business Strategy and Marketing, understanding how to work in value-added ways so that efforts make a tangible difference, and first took that forward into the worlds of PR, press, marketing and events.
Mostly PR and press, with marketing and events blended into those roles, I enjoyed letting brand values guide my work, seeing opportunities to connect with stakeholders to engage them, get their endorsement, and ultimately uphold, celebrate and make the most of a business's reputation.
It was all mostly business to consumer work which I loved. By getting stakeholders' support I could also let their experiences shape the business's success.
However, it can take a lot of work to get really close to external stakeholders in a consistent and meaningful way, it can be a tough gap to bridge and a delicate one due to their level of investment.
I found my in-house PR roles taking on the remit of internal communications as well. As I was a professional communicator, writer and planner, my employers felt they could tap into those skills to support comms and engagement for their workforce too.
So, around 12 years ago, I started managing internal communications (IC) alongside PR and press. I found myself tailoring external messages into engaging employee announcements, creating intranets and extranets and bringing remote workforces closer together.
I started to enjoy the closeness of my newest key stakeholder group, and around nine years ago I said a fond goodbye to PR and went full-time into IC.
Through IC I realised I was a lot closer to my main stakeholders: employees, senior management, decision makers and project teams. I was also now directly alongside:
The things you're ultimately handling through comms, and I loved it!
With IC you have the beauty of your audience being easily accessible for their views to help comms before it's gone out. You can sample, poll, segment and group employees so that their voice helps to shape what you do, what you say and how you say it and deliver it to them.
You can close the loop, by getting feedback and measurement, and you also have a landscape of personal views and potential lived experience to tap into, so the all mighty 'human interest' angle can be maximised.
The knock-on effect of using the employee voice is more engaging comms going out, peer to peer endorsement, and stimulating, motivating stories. This also adds to company culture.
Did I say culture?
Not only can you use the employee resource to bolster your comms, you can nurture senior management relationships and get your leaders on side to help messages cascade and for things to be accepted. With good, trusting relationships you can also influence your leader's own style of comms and tone of voice – which can have a direct impact on the culture and feel of an organisation.
I'll sum up
For me, IC is a completely rounded comms experience. Your skills are consistently put to the test, as you can handle a variety of subject matter that's not always planned in. But you have the golden opportunity to build trust with your stakeholders and through you their stories are told in effective, efficient, engaging and successful ways.
It makes for a strong portfolio and a great way to ensure your core skills of writing and planning are consistently developed and move with the times.
You naturally develop a strong sense of business and how to balance the comms effort where it's needed most. You can also get access to a range of engaging working groups, from technology to wellbeing, employee engagement and reward – getting super close to the action.
If you want to be closer to the great results that can be achieved with good comms – then choose IC!