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IoIC Masters in Internal Communication Management (2019)

Time has truly flown by since I handed in my final Masters assignment in September 2019. In fact, looking back, the entire 12-month programme passed so quickly that combining it with full time work now feels far more achievable than perhaps it did at the time!

In my hybrid internal communications and employer branding role at the Italian energy company Eni, based in London, the course equipped me with knowledge and awareness that is relevant to both aspects of my work.

The course's content on communications planning and the relationship with business strategy has helped my team refocus and continuously link our communications to the broader Eni strategy, which has recently evolved significantly in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and its negative impact on the energy sector. My role is partly to help employees make the connection between the changes happening around them and what's happening in the outside world.

When it comes to employer branding, I am now much more interested in producing content for external talent audiences which promotes similar themes: Who is Eni? What do we stand for? What is our short, medium and long-term strategy? Why should people want to work here? What can they expect if they join us?

These are all ways of thinking about communication that the Masters encourages you to keep front-of-mind in every plan you make and every piece of copy you write. The reading on the psychological aspects of communication forces you to consider the channels you use carefully, as well as the timing, tone of voice, who is delivering it… all these elements combine to determine how your messages will land with your audiences. And most organisations have multiple audiences, so being more aware of the psychology helps me to tailor my communications to their various needs.

My favourite aspect of the course was the final unit – my research project. I chose to concentrate on senior management communication around the annual company strategy. My chosen research method was a series of semi-structured face-to-face interviews. Having conducted plenty of employer brand research earlier in my career, I considered myself to be 'not too bad' at research. However, examining the theory of research really opened my eyes to best practice. It has also recently equipped me to advise colleagues in other departments when they have conducted surveys of their own.

Understanding research theories helps me to think in a different way and always with the final objective in mind. If you know what you want to discover, you can structure your research in such a way that it will help you get there. And if it doesn't, you can revise your approach and try a different method! It all contributes to taking a more evidence-based approach in my work, thinking analytically, gathering as much data as possible (intranet and email analytics are essential for this) and then thinking about why the data is what it is. In fact, something I've discovered is that relying on email and intranet for internal communications without senior and line manager involvement will not be effective for the majority of employees in my subsidiary. My final assignment's conclusions heavily support this discovery: people in my organisation remember what they have been told face-to-face much more clearly than something they read online or in an email.

Finally, the support of the people in my cohort and especially those in my learning group really helped me get through the course year. We encouraged each other, shared tips and reminded each other of upcoming deadlines. The course was much easier thanks to them. Having a ready-made network of internal communicators is also really useful if you need a sounding board for anything work-related.

For anyone who is interested in gaining a much stronger understanding of organisational and communication theory, I would encourage you to apply for the Masters programme – it could make a real and positive difference to your career.

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Sunday, 03 July 2022
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