A question of comms: Jess Roberts

What is the currency of internal communication and what should people starting out in Comms do?

Today Comms Manager Jess Roberts is in my #QuestionOfComms hot seat to share the answers to these questions and many more.

I’ll hand you over to Jess…

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

I’ve always known that I love words. I love the power they have and how they can make me feel, and importantly, how they can make other people feel. Naturally, this took me into journalism. It was here that I was first introduced to the world of PR and Communications.

It wasn’t until I went in-house that I realised that my love of words coupled with my genuine curiosity about what makes people tick were a match perfectly suited to internal communications.

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

People. They make things vibrant and beautiful and challenging. It means there is no ONE answer to a problem. It means I have to think and innovate and be resourceful. I like that.

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

A good friend of mine Helen Reynolds (also a comms pro), recently shared the following quote from Antoni Gaudi: “To do things right, first you need love, then technique.”

Yes! For me and my career this is everything. I love what I do. With a bit of hard work the rest will follow.

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

I’d say don’t forget to PR yourself. We get so busy doing it for other people that we often forget to stop, reflect and celebrate our own achievements. If you don’t do it, nobody else will.

Further reading on the All Things IC blog: A beginner’s guide to personal branding.

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

There is no typical day. If you work in comms you need to be ok with a fast-paced, always-moving environment. You need to be able to wear different hats depending on the project or situation you are dealing with. Essentially that’s what I do.

I work hard to understand what’s happening on the inside of my organisation so that I can understand what that means on the outside, and vice versa. Aligning the two is the real trick.

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

Start with Why by Simon Sinek. I’ve no doubt that other communicators who have sat in this hot seat will have chosen this, but seriously, it’s good. Ultimately it’s about being driven by a sense of purpose.

What’s the purpose of your change comms campaign? Why is it important? If you start with that then you have a pretty solid foundation. It’s a simple concept but I think the true genius of it is that it can apply to so much. It’s not just a work thing. It’s life too.

Oh and if you’re looking for some reading suggestions, check out CIPR Inside’s IC book club on Twitter. There are some cracking reads coming through.

Great choice Jess, I had the pleasure of hearing Simon Sinek alongside comms pros Jenni Field, Trudy Lewis and Katie Marlow when he did an evening event in London last year – Rachel.

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

Relationships! They are the means by which everything gets done. I like to think of relationships as the currency of internal comms.

8) What is the future of internal communication?

The profession is already seeing growth in terms of how (and if) it is perceived as a strategic partner. We’re getting there but there’s still some way to go.

I think if we’re smart, we’ll focus on the trio of: purpose, delivery and measurement.

The last one is crucial. If we get measurement right then we’ll be doing enough PR of ourselves to claim that title of ‘strategic business partner’.

9) Where can people find you online?

You can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter @jessroberts_82. Feel free to say hi!

Post author: Jess Roberts.

Thank you Jess. You can read more of her thoughts via my blog as she kindly shared her thoughts following the Institute of Internal Communication’s annual conference a couple of weeks ago:

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First published on the All Things IC blog 30 May 2018.

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