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Paula Wilson, IoIC London director, discusses digital technology, how marketing and comms should work together and her love of pie-making in the latest in our IoIC People series.

What was your first internal comms job?

Back in 1999 I was working with the IT department at NatWest Markets on a temp contract, raw coding webpages for a fledgling intranet. Just as the contract was coming to an end, a job came up on the marketing and communications team – they wanted someone who could organise events, write internal news stories while also crucially being able to implement this new digital technology. It was one of those moments when everything came together at the right time and it was a pivotal moment in my career.

Web development is a particular interest of yours – what do you like about it?

As someone who remembers internal communications being a typed letter copied 3,000 times and desk-dropped… I love the ease and speed of communications via the web. And now that social intranets are increasingly powerful tools for collaboration and knowledge-sharing, I’m constantly excited when I see what’s being achieved and the future potential.

If you were to give one piece of advice to a business thinking about introducing a new intranet, what would it be?

Think big - the possibilities are endless. But remember to devote plenty of time to training and adoption as well as building the content and infrastructure. The more people use it, the more value you get from it.

What was the most important thing you learned about internal comms early in your career?

It sounds trite but ‘Content is King’. Technology allows you to do so much but you mustn’t get side-tracked by it. If the messaging isn’t right, no amount of gizmos will make it work.

Tell us about your role at XL Catlin.

I’m communications & marketing director leading a team of seven for a large commercial insurer. We provide a full range of services across a multinational region including: internal and external communications, advertising, sponsorships, copywriting, branding, marketing collateral, PR, events, web, social media and CSR. We support a broad range of business lines and I’m immensely proud of my brilliant team.

You have a responsibility for both marketing and communication. Sometimes there is more separation between these functions. What do you think is important to ensure they work well together?

I’m firmly in the camp of integrating the comms and marketing functions. I think it’s much more efficient because the two disciplines don’t exist in isolation. It’s essential that we communicate well between the UK-based team and within the global team not just to keep each other in the loop but also to benefit from sharing ideas. For example, we use marketing techniques to enhance internal communications campaigns and internal communications to promote innovative thinking that influences how we go to market.

How did you come to join IoIC?

At NatWest I’d found myself in internal communications more by chance than design, and when I moved to my next role it had both marketing and internal communications aspects to it. So I thought I was clearly destined to be in marketing and comms and I’d better get some proper qualifications. I embarked on a distance-learning MSc in international marketing and, at the same time, joined IoIC. Looking back, two incredibly good decisions!

What do you particularly enjoy about participating in London region activities?

Meeting new people and continuing to develop my knowledge of internal communications. After more than 15 years in the profession, I am still enthused by how the communications function continues to evolve and how companies engage with and use internal communications. There’s still so much to learn. Love it!

What are you looking forward to as London regional director?

I want to continue to develop a programme of events that will help our members be effective in their roles and develop their careers. At the same time I think effective networks will only grow in importance so I want to make sure we have a fun social side too.

You enjoy cooking – what’s your best dish?

Pies… steak pie, chicken pie, apple pie, you name it. I find making pastry really therapeutic after a busy week but I’ve never really liked eating it. Fortunately, my entire family likes eating pies but not making them. It’s a match made in heaven.
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