In the world of Internal Communications, you’re likely to question everything. Are colleagues really reading your newsletter? Is a video really the best way of conveying your message? Would this be better communicated face-to-face?

I have a guest post for you today by Sophia Danielsson-Waters (known as Sia, see-ya, for short), she is the Colleague Engagement and Internal Communications Manager for the Go-Ahead Group. Go-Ahead is a UK-based international transport company, taking care of one billion journeys on its bus and rail services each year.

Sophia started her career in print publishing, specialising in preschool books for children, before changing career paths into PR. She holds an Internal Communications Certificate with the CIPR. She says she likes pretending to write her novel when she is actually watching Netflix, love that! I’ll hand you over…

Let’s ask more questions in IC

In terms of practical industry advice, we (or certainly, I) become more hesitant about asking the big questions. Whether it’s clarifying what comes under IC’s remit to the scope of IC’s influence, the questions become increasingly specialised to that organisation and the company’s overall strategy. Sometimes you don’t need to read another case study – you need to talk to someone and bounce ideas off them.

I recently contacted Rachel through her monthly email newsletter, The Water Cooler, as I wanted to know if there was a place where Internal Communications practitioners could ask a simple question and receive straight-forward, tailored advice. I asked whether it would be possible to open up the blog to an ‘ask the experts’ panel, or if there was any scope to provide a monthly agony aunt or advice-style column.

In this industry, everyone is already open to talking to each other and sharing best practices. Can we encourage this even further and get people involved?

I would personally find it immensely useful if I could have an area where I could ask a question and hear expert advice and feedback – even if it’s just a place to read different point of view. I would also be interested in the opposite – somewhere where I could provide advice from my own area of Internal Communications expertise, and believe that I am genuinely helping other professionals.

Does this sound like something you would be interested in, too?

Recently I hosted a workshop for Internal Communicators who work in our rail companies. The aim was to discuss how we could improve communication with supervisors of customer-facing colleagues. I reached out to an industry expert, Kevin Ruck, who challenged my thinking. In his research, he had discovered that middle management, with their feet in both front line and head office court – were the real stakeholders to engage. This led to a fascinating session that critiqued the top-down cascade method of internal communication.

You’re right until you’re wrong

With expert advice, I can improve my own knowledge and become a more flexible thinker. It’s like science; you’re right until you’re wrong, so always experiment, always consult and always be open to being wrong.

Before now, niggling fears held me back from asking questions more publicly. It’s a bit like primary school, when a teacher would ask the class if anyone had any questions, and thirty children would silently shake their heads. It was only when the brave child put up their hand and said “well, actually…” that many others admitted they had wanted to ask the same question.

This could be an opportunity to read other people’s IC questions that you hadn’t wanted to ask yourself – and be glad someone else did.

So I’m being that brave primary school child now. Who would like to give up a bit of their time to be an ‘expert’ or an ‘agony aunt’? And do you want to ask a question?

Post author: Sophia Danielsson-Waters.

Thank you Sophia. What do you think about Sophia’s idea? As ever, you’re welcome to comment below or you can find her on LinkedIn or Twitter @siasiasia if you would like to discuss having a forum to have questions answered.

I set up The IC Crowd alongside my friends Dana Leeson and Jenni Field back in 2012 to provide a network via Twitter @TheICCrowd where Comms pros can give and receive advice.

Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel

First published on the All Things IC blog 1 August 2019.

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