How can you start working in internal communication? What skills do you need and how can you learn?
Today I have a guest post by a brand new Internal Communications Executive, Jess Morris.
She has just completed the first six months in her role at AO and is here to share what she’s learnt, what it’s like to start out and how you can do the same.
If you are new to internal communication, I have just the course for you. I’m running my next Internal Communication Masterclass on 27 September 2018 in London. It’s a safe space and a small group where you can come and ask questions, get advice and meet peers.
It’s suitable if you have been working in IC for up to five years and would like to refresh your skills and boost your confidence. If you’ve never studied comms theory, it will help you. I’ve also had Comms Directors attend this Masterclass when they’ve suddenly found themselves responsible for internal communication.
24 March update: Jess has just attended my 21 March Masterclass and is pictured below. My next IC Masterclass is on 27 September 2018.
See my Masterclasses website and the end of this article for more info about my courses. I’d love you to join me at future ones.
I’ll hand you over…
How to start working in internal communication
Hi I’m Jess and I have worked in Internal Communications for just under six months.
From a young age, I knew my strengths lay in creativity and writing. Not knowing all career avenues I could take, I wasn’t sure what I even wanted to do even by the time I was in my second year of university.
I studied a combined honours in English and Linguistics at The Manchester Metropolitan University. A lot of my friends have gone on to be teachers but I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do.
This was often quite frustrating especially when I knew it would be time to make a decision on what jobs I would like to apply for after University.
My dad suggested internal communications as he used to work with Rachel Miller at Novartis and believed I could have potential in this type of job. Rachel kindly took the time to speak to me over the phone about what she does and how she discovered internal comms.
If I am honest, I still wasn’t completely sure what the term internal communications meant, but I was intrigued!
I started to research what internal communications means to a business and found myself inspired.
Come September I got stuck into applying for jobs, mostly in social media, copywriting and internal communications. I was lucky enough to land myself a position at AO as an internal communications executive and it’s been such a journey already.
One of my main responsibilities in my role includes keeping communication channels in our two main offices current. This takes a lot of organisation and forward thinking because when one campaign ends, I need a plan for what will replace this content – whether it is a poster, or an article.
This has been a challenge for me, fresh out of university life, I knew that organisation at/to this level would be a struggle.
I believe that my biggest struggle/challenge coming into this job, has been taking criticisms and coping when I have made a mistake.
I’m one of the youngest and least experienced members of my team and when I make a minor mistake I can often feel like a failure and beat myself up too much.
I am gradually learning to only let myself feel bad for a short time before letting it go and focusing on rectifying whatever I’ve done and moving forward with a positive frame of mind.
Speaking to colleagues can be very helpful, they tell me funny stories about their first job and plentiful mistakes they had made in the past and that it’s normal not to get everything right straight away!
The highlight of my time working in internal communications is how much variety there is in what I do.
I get the opportunity to gain experience in lots of different things and work with all different departments.
Whether I’m hosting a pancake tossing competition, or writing a formal article for the intranet/external use, I’m always busy, working hard, learning and having fun.
Bring on the next six months!
Thank you Jess, I’m thrilled to hear how you’ve settled in and the fact you’re enjoying discovering the world of internal communication.
We all make mistakes, do be kind to yourself. I’m 15 years into working in IC and believe the errors I’ve made along the way, plus the ones I’ll make in future, allow me to learn and continuously improve. We may be IC professionals, but we are only human after all!
Are you new to the world of internal comms?
If you’ve just started your IC career, welcome! If you’re looking for ways to learn, here are some ideas, people and resources to check out.
Seven ways to learn more about the internal comms industry
- Research: Gatehouse Group published its 10th annual State of the Sector results a couple of weeks ago. See Jenni Field’s blog for an overview.
- Jobs market: Keep an eye on comms recruiters like VMA Group, Ellwood Atfield,Comms Leaders and FEEL Communications to see the types of roles they are advertising. What are the rates? What’s the average? What skills are people looking for?
- Global comms: If you want to learn more about global communications, check out IC Kollectif, IABC, Global Alliance, PR Conversations, EACD, Ragan and IPR. See AMECfor measurement info.
- Podcasts: I love listening to podcasts and recommend ICology with Chuck Gose, For Immediate Release podcast network with Shel Holtz, CSuitepodcast, Paul Sutton’s podcast and Talking Comms with Adrian Stirrup. I also listen to entrepreneur and PR podcasts including Chris Ducker, Pat Flynn, Janet Murray, Carrie Green and JLD.
- Join membership bodies such as the Institute of Internal Communication, CIPR Inside from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, PRCA or IABC.
- Read: There are so many specialist publications. Check out Communicate Magazine, PRWeek, Corp Comms Magazine, Marginalia, Voice from IoIC, PR Place from Richard Bailey, and Influence from CIPR
- Use social media: There’s a large community of in-house comms pros online. Come and join me over at The IC Crowd on Twitter @theiccrowd alongside my fellow co-founders Jenni Field and Dana Leeson. It’s a global community of comms pros. We’re also bringing back The Big Yak unconference for in-house comms pros to network and learn together. It’s on 9 June 2018 in London – see @theiccrowd and www.thebigyak.co.uk for more info over the next few weeks. Tickets are out at the end of March. I also Tweet @AllthingsIC and use LinkedIn to connect and share ideas with fellow communicators globally.
Further reading: How PR students can get a job in IC
Further reading: How to work as a Communication Consultant – getting started.
Internal Communication Training
I’d love you to join me at one of my All Things IC Masterclasses in London.
It costs £599 +VAT per person to attend a Masterclass and if you’re a CIPR or IoIC member or nonprofit organisation, you can save 20%. See my Masterclasses website for more info. I’d love you to join me.
What’s it like to attend the Internal Communication Masterclass?
“The All Things IC Comms Masterclass was spot on for re-invigorating my passion for internal communications and providing a toolkit of great ideas and approaches to implement back in the office. The best part was spending time with like-minded comms professionals sharing ideas and experiences. I thoroughly recommend to anyone working in comms new or old to sign up to one of Rachel’s classes – plus she provides fab goodie bags!!” – Becky Wren, Marketing Manager, Screwfix.
Thank you Becky. What’s it like to study theory in the IC Masterclass?…
“Rachel’s IC knowledge is immense, and she’s incredibly generous with it. The Masterclass was well structured and interesting, with a good mix of theory and practical skills. I left full of ideas, with a reading and action list I’m looking forward to getting stuck into. Thanks Rachel!” – Lindsay Narey, Communications Executive, Metropolitan.
If you’re looking for ideas, see my list of 31 recommended books to read to learn about communication..
I came away completely buzzing with inspiration and ideas and happy that I’d had the space to take a step back and think creatively about what we’re doing and why. Having time to think and reflect always feels like a bit of a luxury but it’s so important. Thank you Rachel for a brilliant day. – Alison Robinson, Internal Communications Officer, Birketts LLP
If you are an IoIC or CIPR member, you can earn CPD (Continuing Professional Development) points while you learn. Don’t forget to log your learning after the Masterclass. You will receive a certificate on the day to prove your attendance.
Thank you for stopping by,
Post author: Rachel Miller.
First published on the All Things IC blog 9 March 2018.