What is an internal communication strategist? Well, according to the latest UK issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, an internal comms strategist is concerned with cakes, headsets and jargon.

I spotted this article via Natasha Liedl-McDowall, Senior Manager, Organisational Experience at ARM today. She shared it on LinkedIn alongside her views about the piece (disclosure: ARM is a client of mine).

I shared it on Twitter @AllthingsIC and my network certainly has some views. Thank you to everyone who joined the conversation, I’ve tried to include as many Tweets as I can below.

Here it is… (brace yourself):

Is it tongue-in-cheek? I hope so. Should we actually be happy the role is even recognised? Possibly.

But… and here’s the thing… it’s so unhelpful.

We’ve been talking about “professionalising” IC for as long as I can remember. We write, blog, teach, and educate our organisations and peers about the importance of working in a strategic way.

I’ve written 1100 blog posts about internal communication over the past eight years and do not recognise the picture that has been painted of a role I absolutely love.

If the intention of the piece was to feature ‘the best new industries’ then brilliant. Love that.

However, internal communication has been around since people drew on cave walls to communicate. It’s been present in organisations since at least 1840. I of course welcome the idea of publicising what internal communication is all about.

But that’s not what this is.

Further reading: You can read about the history of internal comms via my blog and find out more about The Lowell Offering from 1840 (pictured).

Internal communication as a career choice? Can’t beat it, gets my vote every time. However, will people who are entering the workplace or looking for a change of career read that article and think wow that’s a role for me.

Doubtful.

I have a sense of humour, but come on Cosmo, it’s 2017. This patronising article does you – and the IC industry – no favours.

Parent company Hearst is currently recruiting for a PR & Communications Manager. It’s a new role and includes internal comms. Brilliant. Let’s hope they have the skills you’ve outlined. Although there’s a distinct lack of cake mentioned…

I’m going to pick up on some of the points.

Cake

I am clearly doing something wrong. The only cakes I organise are for my children’s birthdays. Yes we all know the power of some branded collateral (cakes included) to accompany a campaign. But to be our WHOLE job?

Here’s how the cake comment went down…

And the headset…

We may have just found our new catchphrase… #busybusyverybusy

What communicators think of the article:

So, what can we learn from all these Tweets, LinkedIn comments and conversations?

I think you can see internal communication practitioners are passionate about what we do for a living. It’s a hackneyed phrase, but apt – just look at the language, humour and protectiveness displayed above.

Are we taking it all a bit too seriously? Maybe. Some voices of reason here…

CIPR Inside has even extended the hand of friendship to Cosmopolitan UK to come to their upcoming IC conference:

In all seriousness, internal communicators are a friendly bunch. I’m going to the CIPR Inside conference on 1 November and would be more than happy to have a chat about what life as an internal communication strategist is like.

On balance, I’m glad to see VOICE from the Institute of Internal Communication was mentioned, that was at least accurate. The information about trust and knowing a brand was also not too far off the mark.

If you want to know what life as an internal communicator is like, check out my #questionofcomms series featuring professional communicators from around the globe, including:

  • A question of commsRachel Miller, Director, All Things IC
  • A question of commsLou Robinson, Global Internal Comms Lead, Costa
  • A question of commsSara Luker, EMEA Content Manager, eBay
  • A question of commsGary Vyse, PR & Engagement Lead at Alternative Futures Group
  • A question of comms: Helen Deverell, Director, Helen Deverell Communications
  • A question of comms:  Katy Gibbins, Head of Internal Communications and Engagement, Department for Culture Media and Sport
  • A question of comms: Shona Sullivan, Communications and Engagement Executive, Capita BBC Audience Services
  • A question of commsKeith Lewis, UK Social Business and Channels Manager for Zurich Insurance
  • A question of commsKerry Sheehan, Head of Communications at North East London NHS Foundation Trust
  • A question of comms: Steven Murgatroyd, Communications and Engagement at River Island.

Further reading: Want to know more? Read my eight myths of internal communication article to decipher some misconceptions about IC. I have 21 drafted and should perhaps extend that list following the Cosmo piece…

Response from Cosmo

7 September 2017 update: PRWeek has just published an article about the Cosmo piece:

It includes a comment from Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Farrah Storr who told PRWeek: “Of course Cosmopolitan does not believe this is a fair representation of internal comms strategists.

“It is a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek piece which gently pokes fun at a number of professions and was in no way intended to cause any offence. We work with lots of brilliant comms professionals all the time and have the utmost respect for the profession.”

Thank you Farrah. Good to hear directly from the source regarding the intended purpose. Thanks PRWeek for highlighting the story and getting the answer.

Learn about internal communication

If you want to learn about internal communication, then you’re welcome to attend one of my All Things IC Masterclasses.

You can even save 20% at the moment through my Septembersaver deal…

Upcoming Masterclasses to choose from:

My monthly training courses take place in Covent Garden, London. If you’re a CIPR or IoIC member, you can earn CPD points/hours by attending. See the Masterclasses website for full information and to save your place.

Right, I’m obviously #busybusyverybusy so am off to put on my headset and organise some cake.

Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel

Post author: Rachel Miller
First published on the All Things IC blog 6 September 2017. Updated 7 September.

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