Why being an internal communicator in 2012 is a good thing…

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Why being an internal communicator in 2012 is a good thing…

If you’re thinking about your career options, do you know what the current market is like for internal communicators? What are employers looking for, what is the value of internal comms professionals and is now a good time to be one?

Wayne Reynolds is a Director at specialist communications recruiter Birchwood Knight. I asked him to write a guest post for Diary of an internal communicator to shed some light from a recruiter’s perspective on some of these topics. You can follow them @birchwoodknight on Twitter. Thanks Wayne, over to you….

I recently confessed to a colleague that finding outstanding internal communications people was getting harder. As a specialist corporate communications recruiter Birchwood Knight has seen more demand for internal communicators so far in 2012 than any other corporate communications discipline, the first time this has ever happened.

My colleague reminded me that lobbying government has been around for centuries, PR for decades and that internal communications is still a relative newcomer. Communicators who show promise early in their careers are often encouraged into external relations by Communications Directors who themselves come from a background in media relations, lured by the ‘glamour’ of talking to the media and increased exposure to the senior leadership team.

Rising value of internal comms
But the value of internal communications is unquestionably on the rise. If, as so many organisations claim, people are really their greatest asset then ensuring they’re informed, engaged and on message is key. Increasingly, more and more communications bosses have significant internal communications experience, placing additional emphasis on its importance and encouraging those with promise to specialise in this growing communications discipline. 

Hiring companies universally want people who can write well for different audiences and channels, often under pressure. Project management skills, for example developing a new intranet site, and change communications skills are also in high demand.

Executive communications is moving up the list of desirable experience, driven by a greater focus on the personal profile of CEOs and other board members.  Multi-nationals who use English as their international business language are always looking for effective ways to engage employees across different cultures, and those with practical experience of innovating using new channels, especially social media, is frequently asked for.

In short, it’s a good time to be an outstanding internal communicator.

Post author: Wayne Reynolds.

Thank you for your thoughts Wayne. What do you think of what he’s written? Is there anything which surprises you or a skill that is missing that you’d expect recruiters to look for? I was struck by his revelation that 2012 has seen more demand for internal comms professionals than ever before and wonder if that is a trend that will play out throughout the year? Feel free to comment below and thanks as ever for stopping by, Rachel.

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5  responses on Why being an internal communicator in 2012 is a good thing…

I think one skill that will be increasingly important in the years to come is the ability to understand and manage community. Companies are exploring social intranets and tools that make collaboration among employees easier. This changes the role of the internal communicator to that of a curator, highlighting, commenting, guiding and setting context in addition to the existing skills above.

  • Sarah Hodges

  • 24 February 2012 at 11:29 am

I would have to agree with you Edward. I’ve just completed the Advanced Level Diploma in Internal Communications with the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) and as part of my reseach the role of ‘curator’ and ‘educator’ came up time and time again. I believe we need to be able to demonstrate our ability to guide and educate senior leaderhsip on the benefits of using social tools and get them comfortable with using them too.

I wonder if people think it will become increasingly necessary to have more formal qualifications in Internal Communications in the future – or if it is enough to have these transferable skills?

  • Justine Stevenson

  • 7 March 2012 at 8:29 am

Sorry to be slightly late to the debate but I was really struck by what Wayne said about the tradition of Internal Communicators being encouraged into external comms by their directors who themselves had followed that route. How true but maybe how outmoded?
Obviously external is always going to be high up the agenda – whatever happens in the future organisations are still going to have to promote themselves, manage their reputations, deal with the press….
But as we all know, increasingly the internal debate is playing out across the organisation and into the public arena – any organisation that doesn’t think that its employees will talk about it on Twitter is probably wrong 🙂
So shaping that internal debate through high quality internal communication and engagement will never be more important, in my opinion!
And as to Sarah’s question about formal qualifications – I do think that is something the IC industry needs to think about. Coaching, facilitation, curation, education….traditionally our skills but not necessarily recognised. Perhaps we do need to formalise what we bring to the table even more clearly?

Thank you all for your comments. Justine I agree that formal qualifications do need to be addressed, there are some cracking courses around. Knowing their true value would be interesting as well as examining what is being taught. Definitely food for thought.

  • Rachel

  • 13 March 2012 at 8:17 pm

I’m a PR student but found myself drawn to internal communications probably because of my previous HR experience. It seems the perfect area for me, however I do have major concerns as a students, and future graduate about how I can get myself into the right sort of role. I have also been warned to make sure I don’t try and specialise too soon and prepare myself with external comms and media relations skills.

I think it’s a brilliant area, and so important, I hope I manage to make a good career from internal comms!

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