Today we have something new to share with readers of the All Things IC blog as we are launching a new series.
We love having conversations with clients and comms friends about all things internal communication related.
Each month we’ll be having a Candid Conversation with a member of the internal communication community to hear what they love about working in IC, how they started out in their career and sharing advice for those new to the profession.
We’ll also hear about those things that didn’t go so well, so we can learn from each other.
If you’d like to share your internal comms stories and experiences for our brand new Candid Conversations series, complete our submission form and one of the team will be touch. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked in comms or where you are in the world, we’d love to hear from you.
Kicking off the new series is our very own Communication Consultant, Caroline Cubbon-King. Enjoy.
How did you discover internal communication as a profession?
I was lucky to be involved in internal communication from my very first comms job. I probably didn’t realise it was a profession in its own right back then but I knew early on that happy, informed colleagues build strong brands. I have stuck to this like glue ever since.
What do you love most about working in the internal comms profession?
I love seeing the difference positive, robust internal communications practice can have on colleagues and on businesses. I have loved helping to enhance organisational culture through strong IC practice and seeing the link between this and the results that external stakeholders often judge a business on.
As a Communication Consultant, I have the privilege of working with a range of businesses and IC professionals every day who trust me and my colleagues to step into their world and cast our lens over how IC happens or doesn’t happen.
It is fascinating and no two days are ever the same.
Further reading: My first week in Team Teal.
Do you have a memorable moment to share about when an IC project didn’t quite go to plan?
I put my heart and soul into a large staff conference early on in my career and was faced with a handful of colleagues who were basically disgruntled employees telling me that my efforts were in vain, they hated the event, couldn’t see the point of it etc. I chose to listen to the 98% of others who loved it.
You can’t please everybody in comms and it’s really important not to get put off by incidents like this.
What’s been a highlight of your internal comms career so far?
There have been a few but one that sticks out was when the business I used to work at faced several significant problems, caused by changes in the operating environment. If we had taken no action, service standards would have plummeted, staff would have lost their jobs and stakeholder trust and confidence would have suffered.
I designed an engagement programme where we encouraged staff to share their business problems, to fully offload about the things they would love to change and turned their thoughts into a set of 16 business problems to solve.
We pitched these back to employees and asked them to sign up to mini task forces, putting their heads together and drawing upon their day-to-day experience on the frontline to solve the issues. They smashed it and lots of processes changed long term on the back of their work.
What do you feel has been the biggest change to our profession you’ve seen or experienced in your career?
It’s great to see an emphasis on comms being a profession in its own right. I was guilty in the early part of my career of spending so much time doing, I neglected formal learning. Nobody tells the Finance Director that their calculations are wrong and as communicators, we should feel as though our advice is respected and welcomed.
How people consume information is the biggest practical change I have seen. When I started my career, I was immersed in print publications. I had no website and social media didn’t even exist! I find it fascinating how technology has transformed how and what we communicate and how the audience responds. However, despite the amazing tools at our disposal these days. I find that tried and tested brilliant basics are the key to great IC.
How would you define internal communication to someone who didn’t know about it?
IC is about sharing information and news within an organisation so colleagues are informed, included and feel like they belong. Done well, IC can unite teams, amplify brands and is the difference between a business getting good or great business outcomes.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting out in internal comms?
Do it! Invest in relationships as people need to trust you to tell you the things you need to know and give you the freedom you need as an internal communicator to turn information into messages and stories that colleagues take notice of.
You can learn so much from peers. IC has an amazing, giving community of people willing to share their ideas.
You need never be alone in the world of IC.
What are your top tips when it comes to continued professional development to stay up to date on everything internal comms related?
I rely on social media in the main and the connections I have built up over years to keep me updated. Definitely sign up to professional bodies and take advantage of the resources and training available. You don’t have to spend money to keep yourself professionally updated and you don’t need to invest lots of time. I know both of these factors can hold people back, but they shouldn’t. I listen to podcasts when I’m driving or cleaning. I approach my professional development in mini chunks, so it always seems manageable.
If you could go back in time and speak to yourself when you started your IC career, what advice would you give?
Trust your instincts and stay tuned into your colleagues and your culture. This will guide you to make the right decisions. Invest more time into building relationships. Once people put you top of mind, you will find things out earlier and be better able to plan and execute IC in the way you want to.
Thank you Caroline for your Candid Conversation.
If you’d like to share your internal comms stories and experiences for our brand new Candid Conversations series, complete our submission form and one of the team will be touch. Regardless how long you’ve worked in comms or where you are in the world, we’d love to hear from you.
Post author: Dan Holden.
First published on the All Things IC blog 14 June 2022.