A Question of Comms: Harriet Small

What can IC pros learn from the New Zealand Rugby team and what’s the future of internal communication?

Communications Officer Harriet Small is the latest professional communicator to sit in my #questionofcomms hot seat. She’s given her views on these questions and many more.

Would you like to sit in my hot seat? If you’re an in-house practitioner, here are the questions you need to answer.

Here’s Harriet…

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

I have always been a tad bothered with how organisations communicate with their staff. So when I began working in-house, I naturally gravitated towards internal communications and employee engagement.

Just being able to see the difference in people and their work when they felt valued, appreciated and heard brought me so much joy.

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

Being able to have a direct impact on the way people work and solving business problems for my organisation using communications principles.

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

It came from an editor when I was a features writer, “Your attitude will determine your altitude.”

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

Take responsibility for your personal and professional development.

5) What does a typical day or working week look like for you?

I usually get in around 8.15am because I like to be organised before everyone else comes in. We have a quick daily team catch up, which is helpful because I’m responsible for both the press office, internal communications and a directorate. We usually give each other an update on what we are working on. I then work my way through my to do list. In terms of internal communications, I’m currently working on a change project with IT, our annual staff conference and various projects with HR.

I book in very few meetings but when I do I prefer them to be mid-morning or early afternoon so I can keep up with media enquiries. I love networking so am always looking for great public relations and communications events to go to. I really like FutureNet events that the Institute of Internal Communication run. I also volunteer for a professional network, called Outreach Digital so am often busy arranging talks and hosting events with them mid-week.

6) Name a book you think every communicator must read, and why you’ve chosen it

Legacy by James Kerr. I am a massive fan of the New Zealand Rugby team because of their ethics, excellence and ethos.

Every time I read it I learn something new that helps me work better and switch things up.

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

My phone. It has everything I need at my fingertips. My social media, emails, camera, music sli.do, LinkedIn learning, music, my task list and podcasts.

8) What is the future of internal communication?

I think 2019 will be a year to focus on health and change communications. Businesses are releasing that they need to communicate the why behind the change. Many of the conversations I’ve had in the last year have been about the importance of health and wellbeing.

For communications professionals, I think we will be using technology much more to enhance face to face interaction which is becoming harder and we will see more content creation platforms springing up, an experimentation with podcasts and an increased use of polling apps.

9) Where can people find you online?

You can find me on LinkedIn.

Post author: Harriet Small.

Thank you very much Harriet. If you’d like to read more of her thoughts, head over to her Comms Over Coffee blog.

Would you like to sit in my hot seat? If you’re an in-house practitioner, here are the questions you need to answer.

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Thank you for stopping by,


First published on the All Things IC blog10 January 2019.

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