Thinking about a career in internal communication? Two communicators from ITV and AB Comms have shared their thoughts about working in the field with today’s ace guest writer Sarah Stimson.
Sarah is the Programme Director at Taylor Bennett Foundation, a charity dedicated to addressing the lack of diversity in PR with traineeships for BAME graduates.
I was featured on the PRcareers website last week where I talked about my career path and offered tips for aspiring comms practitioners.
I’ll hand you over to Sarah…
Why should you consider a career in internal comms?
I talk to a lot of people who are embarking on their careers in communications and the vast majority of them want to work in external comms, but I think they may be missing a trick.
Internal communication is overlooked as a discipline by new communications practitioners partly, I suspect, because they don’t really understand what it is and partly because it doesn’t have that ‘PR’ title that some really crave.
So why might you want to think about a career in internal comms if you’re new to the industry?
Cindy Yau, (pictured) Senior Internal Comms Exec at ITV, says it might be more exciting than you think.
“There’s no such thing as a typical working day for me or my team – one day I’m attending an exclusive press screening with Rowan Atkinson, the next I’m running around the Barbican with a camera person and mic, interviewing people after an event.
Internal Comms requires a broad set of skills; you need to be personable, a good writer, and an excellent project manager.
“Not everyone who works in Internal Comms has to have the same education or background either – there’s no one size fits all.”
If you’re looking for a role which is really linked to the strategy of a business, a career in internal comms might be right up your street.
Yau explains, “I think we play a hugely important and valuable role in driving the culture and ethos of a company. I work with people from all kinds of backgrounds, and different areas of the business – it’s always changing.
“To do my job well I need to really understand the business and I have to really get to know people who work in other teams. For example, in my current role at ITV I work regularly with TV Production, Sport, and Corporate Responsibility.”
Amy Hegarty, Consultant at AB Comms (pictured below), agrees “We also do a lot of advisory work around engaging employees and helping our clients learn more about their audiences. Compared to external comms, where you may be trying to reach a huge range and number of people, in internal communications the audience is much more specific.
“For example, two of our clients are Royal Mail and The Post Office. You may think that their audiences would be very similar but in fact they’re completely different and that’s fascinating.”
In fact, Amy has worked in both on both the external and internal side of the industry and says that experiencing both has given her an edge.
“I fell into internal communications after almost a year working in the press office of a large retailer. I just felt I wasn’t really challenged in external comms for such a huge organisation and this smaller agency role was much more specific and something to really get my teeth into.
“On a day-to-day basis there’s lots of research and focus groups for clients including conducting surveys and then analysing all the data collected.
“I do sometimes miss talking to journalists but I love the research and stats side of internal comms and I really feel that having had experience of both external and internal will make me a better communicator in the long run.”
Would they advise a career in internal comms to new entrants to the industry?
“I love my job in internal comms,” says Yau, “The beauty of being in a job where collaboration is the heart of its success? You meet people who do completely different jobs, are passionate and skilful, and want to talk to you about what they do all day long.
“No two people you meet do the same thing, no two projects you work on are the same, and you really have to look at the bigger picture to find the story. All communications is story-telling, and I like telling stories with different kinds of twists.”
Amy Hegarty is similarly enthusiastic:
“My advice for anyone considering a career in internal communications is to go for it!
You should read as much as possible and network lots – I’m a member of the London committee for IoIC and we have lots of opportunities for meeting people and going to events. Internal comms is neglected as a career choice by graduates, but it has a lot to offer and uses many of the same skills as other PR disciplines with some interesting and varied work.”
Post author: Sarah Stimson.
What do I think?
I think internal communication is fascinating, I throughly enjoy working in this field and am acutely aware how much it has changed since I started working 17 years ago.
I’ve just introduced All Things IC Masterclasses and you’re welcome to sign up. See the Masterclasses website for more information and to discover what’s on.
I’m looking forward to meeting delegates and hearing their experiences at the start of their IC career, and helping them learn more.
You can find out more via these videos:
What does a career in IC mean to you? You’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.
Further reading about a career in IC via the All Things IC blog:
Do you have the rights skills to do your job?
Building your IC team: competencies and skills
What future skills do practitioners need?
All you need to know to develop your IC career
Welcome to internal communication: a guide for you if you’re just starting out
How to explain comms to a toddler
How to find your next comms role
How to advertise your comms role
What events are on for comms pros to attend? – See the comms calendar
How comedy can prepare you for internal communication
How the history of IC can be traced back to the 1920s
How to master communication through education
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First published on the All Things IC blog 20 April 2016.