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Caroline Collins, PhD, group head of communication and engagement at Irish Life, has been appointed new IoIC Ireland Region director – and has a goal to help advance the country’s internal communication profession, align to best practice and clearly demonstrate the strategic and commercial value-add of communications and engagement to business.

Caroline joined the current IoIC Ireland leadership team from its inception in 2017, and takes over from Scott McInnes with the group already on a high.

“We started at a positive place, with a very ambitious group of people who were passionate about the topic and at the top of their game,” she says.

Caroline acknowledges she has “big shoes to fill”.

“Scott made a really fantastic start,” she says. “It is exciting for me to take over. I’m a great believer in diversity and inclusion, and seeing women in leading roles is important.”

Raising Ireland’s IC maturity

Through the network, Caroline wants to better understand the maturity of internal comms in Ireland, which she believes is different to the UK.

“We know we are a bit behind the UK and Europe,” she says. “There are a number of roles that would deal with IC and engagement, but they are not named as such – it’s just part of your role. You might be doing internal communication and not know there’s a broader network of professionals you can draw on for support.

“We need to figure out how we reach the people with accountability for delivering IC, whatever their title is.”

Caroline believes there is misunderstanding in Ireland around the difference between marketing and communication.

“To me, marketing is channel driven and, at times, there isn’t a great understanding of people strategy and organisational development. Whereas communication is driven by message and audience, so it’s content led. The value we can bring to the table is around what we can say, how we can say it most effectively and to who, and how we link to commercial and strategic objectives – and then we look at channels.

“The best microsite or Twitter feed is meaningless if you haven’t got high-value content and a deep understanding of audience needs.”

Having more strategic conversations

Caroline hopes the network can share ideas on engaging the budget holders and ensuring comms has visibility among the C suite.

The relationship building and networking is hard work, Caroline admits. “We need to explain the value of internal communication and why a business should invest in it.

“Our external colleagues have perhaps invested more heavily in it and profiled their own profession. Now, those with responsibility for internal communication need to start having more strategic conversations about what impact external issues such as Brexit or US politics will have on our business.”

These potential changes must be on IoIC’s radar, too, says Caroline. There are opportunities for the Institute to better understand the marketplace and deliver on commercial needs.

“Brexit could see businesses relocating to Ireland or other parts of Europe,” she reflects. “Amid these changes, how do you attract and retain key people, especially taking into consideration how Generation Z might encounter the workplace? The external employer brand is increasingly becoming a key part of employee experience. How do you live your CSR values and ethics and make it real for people? In offboarding, will employees go on to be advocates?

“IoIC can provide support to those discrete parts of the employee lifecycle.”

Seeking new ideas

Caroline is keen to bring more people and fresh thinking into the IoIC Ireland Region network. “More brains are always better,” she says.

She hopes that, collectively, the group can review how internal communicators deliver events, training and content, engage with the HR community and raise awareness of IoIC through “a lot of talking and networking”.

“I hope we can build the appetite for IoIC training and events,” says Caroline. “We need to be visible around what the IoIC stands for – and present internal comms as a career choice.”


If you are responsible for internal communication in Ireland and would like to join the network, contact Caroline at [email protected].









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