A question of comms: Lou Robinson

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A question of comms: Lou Robinson

Today’s A question of comms features Lou Robinson, Global Internal Comms Lead at Costa.

Discover what she thinks it takes to be good at internal comms, her book recommendations, her views on the future of IC and much more.

Lou has 18 years’ experience in corporate communications and wrote for my blog last month to share what I wish I’d known about working in comms.

Want to be in the hot seat? Thank you to everyone who has got in touch since I published my profile.

If you are an in-house or freelance IC practitioner, see the end of this article for how you can get involved. I’ll be sharing your stories every week.

I’ll hand you over to Lou…

1. When did you know internal communication was what you wanted to do?

I tumbled into working in PR just after uni after my boss asked me to cover a role. Whilst doing the CIPR Diploma I learnt about internal communication and suddenly realised it was the field for me. So within the first year of working in comms.

After realising I wanted to be in IC, I deliberately took a sideways move into a more junior role in order to learn on the job and set up an IC function for a smaller organisation. This gave me a great opportunity to build my skills from there into more senior roles.

2. What do you like most about working in this field?

Two things – from a stakeholder perspective, the opportunity to coach very senior people as a business partner, and from an audience perspective, seeing and hearing the impact of a successful comms implementation – particularly in the campaign space, which is sadly neglected a lot these days due to budget /reorganisation.

3. What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?

Never stop learning and be humble…the day you stop learning is the day you should probably retire!

4. What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a career in comms?

It’s probably different to the advice I would have been given because the world is changing so fast now. Get into a role where you can learn within a team about the technical skills. Once you’ve mastered those, you need to business partner as soon as you can in a constructive environment.

Being successful in IC is about having the emotional intelligence to influence and persuade, not just be good at the job.

Ensure you are up on social, external, digital and visual approaches to IC.

5. What does a typical day or working week look like for you?
There isn’t one! Which is part of the reason I love my job because I’m not great with dull routine.

I usually split my week 50/50 between being in the office for stakeholder meetings and being at home to get other work done.

Quite frequently the work I am doing might be under non-disclosure agreement so it’s often easier to be able to crack through it at home.

I am often looking after global teams so there will be quite often catch-ups with Asia and the Americas early and late…I love the variety.

6. Name a book you think every communicator must read

I would go with Flawless Consulting by Peter Block. I also like Who Moved My Cheese?

7. What’s the one thing you couldn’t do your job without? 

At a senior level, a  chameleon-like approach to stakeholder management and a knack for doing quite a lot with very little budget.

8. What is the future of internal communication?
This is a tricky one – I believe we are going in quite a polarised direction between those of us who can be a strategic business partner, able to flex around new ways of working, digital approaches and really understanding the needs of the audience (millennials becoming a growing population and social / mobile channels being more prevalent).

I see a lot of navel gazing in the IC population about ‘having a seat at the table’.

This doesn’t interest me at all and I think it’s a rabbit hole – if you can influence and persuade properly you don’t need to be sat on the board to get a great outcome.

So I think in short there will be a split very shortly between traditional and modern approaches…I very much hope I’m in the modern and adaptable bucket of people who will continue to succeed and mentor the next generation.

9. Where can people find you online? 

You can find me on LinkedIn.

Thank you Lou.

Your name here?
If you’d like to take part in A question of comms, please contact me or Tweet @AllthingsIC and I’ll send you the questions so you can answer them online. Or feel free to use the prompts above and send your responses.

Here’s a peek at who has sat in the chair already and sent me their answers. They will be featured on my blog over the coming weeks…

Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel.

First published on the All Things IC blog 26 January 2017.

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