Introducing a question of comms

I love hearing how professional communicators came to be in the job they’re doing and their career stories.

Today I’m launching A question of comms, to share insights from professional communicators around the globe.

You’re invited to take part in this new Q&A feature. I’ve put myself up first to get the ball rolling.

Thank you to everyone who voted for the name via Twitter and my clients, contacts and friends who helped create the questions.

A question of comms is a chance for you to showcase your story, give advice and share top tips with others.

It will create a collection of interviews to help us collectively improve what we do.

Thank you to everyone who got in touch following my 1000th blog post, I was surprised and overwhelmed by your kind comments.

I was going to wait a while to roll this new feature out, but after hearing what resonates, I’ve decided to start now.

The majority of my blog readers are in-house comms pros and I’d love to feature you. So whether you’re in-house or working freelance and would like to take part, please contact me or Tweet @AllthingsIC and I’ll send you the questions so you can answer them online.

Or feel free to use the prompts below and send your responses. You don’t have to share pics, but are welcome to.

I’m always interested in hearing how people came to work in this field. It’s a conversation which typically comes up at my Masterclasses. “I fell in to it” is the most common response.

I already have some profiles lined up to publish. However, I’ve been encouraged to share my answers first.

So here’s A question of comms, featuring err, me!

1. What’s your name, job title and company?

Rachel Miller, Director, All Things IC consultancy.

2. When did you know internal communication was what you wanted to do?

Like many professional communicators, I started my career as a Journalist. I joined my local newspaper the week before my 19th birthday in 1999, provisionally on a gap year before going to University. I ended up cancelling my Uni place and getting my Journalism Diploma instead.

The skills I developed as a Journalist set me in good stead as I wanted to create a career path which enabled me to continue doing what I loved – meeting new people, drawing out their stories and communicating their ideas.

Back then that meant networking in my news patch, communicating via fax or on the one computer in the newsroom with the internet(!), and spending hours researching in the library.

The pics on this page are from winning Essex Campaign Journalist of the Year 2002 and with Martin Bell in Brentwood, Essex, on the eve of the General Election 2001. This was the night he lost to Eric Pickles. Despite our body language, this pic of me interviewing him was before we knew he’d been defeated.

A search on job site in 2003 revealed the world of internal comms. I couldn’t believe there was a profession matching the skills I wanted to keep developing.

That’s when I knew internal comms was for me.

I spent the next decade working in-house for companies including Visa, London Overground Rail Operations Limited, Novartis and Visteon and gaining a post-graduate diploma in Internal Communication Management, before establishing All Things IC consultancy in January 2013.

3. What do you like most about working in this field?

Everything! Internal communication fascinates me. I find working as a Consultant incredibly rewarding because I meet amazing people and have the opportunity to transform their work.

The world of comms invigorates and inspires me. It’s a privilege to be invited to experience the inner workings of organisations and help companies succeed and improve the way they communicate.

My Masterclasses are a joy because they combine theory with practice. I love seeing professionals leaving my courses with renewed confidence and belief in their abilities, it’s immensely satisfying.

Being my own boss means I can manage my time to keep my three other bosses – my four-year-old daughter and two-year-old twin sons – happy.

4. What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?

The best career advice I’ve ever been given is to listen to my gut feel and have faith in it. My husband Jon said it to me when I was launching All Things IC and making career decisions.

I’ve honed my ability to trust my instinct and take calculated risks, but every so often need reminding, particularly when trying new things.

5. What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a career in comms?

I have three tips:

1) Be visible
You need to be searchable and get your “digital footprint” started. I thoroughly recommend blogging as a way to work out loud – narrating your work has the potential to build a community. Join Twitter chats, comment in LinkedIn groups, offer to guest blog and never stop asking questions.

2) Take time to invest in your career
Sign up for CPD (continuous professional development) schemes and set yourself targets to keep learning. I’m a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communication and Chartered Institute of Public Relations and can see tangible results for my clients as I continue to improve and learn.

3) Build your own path
Your career is what you make it. No one is forcing you to work in a particular field. Be open to experimenting and remember to thank those who help you along the way. It’s a small world, so don’t burn bridges and don’t underestimate the power of simple gestures like handwritten notes. Most importantly, enjoy it!

6. What does a typical day or working week look like for you?

I don’t have a typical day or week as I work with a wide variety of organisations, either from my office or on site with them.

Over the past week for example I’ve adjudicated judging at CIPR Inside #insidestory awards, spent a day brainstorming with a Comms Director, briefed a website designer and brand strategist, helped a client sift CVs for a role and write interview questions, finished an internal comms audit and started planning a bespoke Masterclass.

I absolutely love the variety and am proud of the fact I’m the “secret weapon” behind some Comms Directors. They hire me to give them advice and guidance to help them succeed when they’re hard-pressed for time or fresh ideas. I’ve worked with some of them since launching All Things IC four years ago, and take their confidentiality and the trust they place in me seriously.

From a one-day to longer-term partnership, I’m open to your ideas of how we can work together.

For personal reasons I’m not able to travel for the foreseeable future, but the beauty of technology means I’ve recently worked with a Luxembourg-based client from my office in London – all things are possible!

7. Name a book you think every communicator should read, and why you’ve chosen it

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, by Paul Arden. I’ve chosen it because it’s a little book which can have a big impact. See more via my books page.

8. What’s the one thing you couldn’t do your job without?

So hard to pick just one! Has to be my network.

From my personal contacts to professional ones, coupled with the support of my husband Jon and our nanny.

I’m grateful for the people I can call at any time and hear common sense and run my ideas past, particularly my fellow The IC Crowd @TheICcrowd co-founders Jenni Field and Dana Leeson and the wonderful Sarah Pinch. Thank you ladies.

L-R: The IC Crowd co-founders Dana Leeson, Jenni Field, Rachel Miller

Rachel Miller and Sarah Pinch

9. What is the future of internal communication?

The future is more of the same strong principles of effective communication, but there’s exciting developments on the horizon driven by technology and the need for transparency.

I’m fascinated by tech and the opportunities it affords us and have lots of ideas I want to try.

10. Where can people find you online?

Here on my blog, Twitter @AllthingsIC, Pinterest @AllthingsIC and LinkedIn.

Post author: Rachel Miller

If you’d like to take part in A question of comms, please contact me or Tweet @AllthingsIC and I’ll send you the questions so you can answer them online. Or feel free to use the prompts above and send your responses.

Thank you for stopping by,


First published on the All Things IC blog 23 January 2017.

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