A question of comms: Janice Fitzgerald

What one piece of advice has helped comms pro Janice Fitzgerald in her career and why does she think it pays to be nice?

Janice is Group Communications Manager at The Clancy Group and is the latest practitioner to sit in my #questionofcomms hot seat. I  was struck by her honesty when reading through, and think you’ll like this article too.

It’s a beautiful day in London as I type, so I give you permission to grab an ice cream or cold drink while you read this article.


Here’s Janice…

When did you know internal communication was what you wanted to do?
Well I loved English in school and following my degree in media, I originally trained to be a journalist. I always loved the nature of research and writing, however missed the sense of teamwork and strategy when writing solo.

I was working in the training department of a really large company when I was 23. We came up against some serious blockers in a project and I remember thinking if only functions spoke to each other more!

It was then I realised the value of stakeholder management. This combined with my love of planning and being a bit creative soon made me realise it was internal comms I wanted to work in.

What do you like most about working in this field?
I love the pace and the variety. The balance between routine and off the cuff works great for me. On the one hand you have your regular engagement that is planned and timed, but then you have key projects that mix it up and keep you on your feet!

Internal comms also means that you get to work with all functions and all levels. I never stop learning and I meet the best people.

What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
A senior MD once told me to treat everyone the same and to speak to everyone across all levels, exactly as you wish to be spoken to.

This is quite simple advice but in a career where achieving deadlines depends on so many stakeholders, this advice is so vital! It’s nice to be nice!

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a career in comms?
Absolutely do it, but only if you have the passion and energy to constantly learn and improve.

Successful engagement can take a lot of exploration and identifying what works for your audience doesn’t happen overnight.

That being said when you get it right it is so rewarding to watch the impact your function can have on improving an employee’s day.

What does a typical day or working week look like for you?
Honestly… there just isn’t a typical week. Sometimes I am working across multiple sites engaging with our clients to share best practice for our staff. Other times I am head down chasing segments for a newsletter. Then some days I am in back-to-back people meetings or even shooting a training video.

No day is the same and it’s what I love!

Name a book you think every communicator must read, and why you’ve chosen it.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R Covey. (Great choice! – Rachel).

With internal comms I often find I am inundated with an urgent task list and it’s hard to see the wood from the trees. This book makes you think about how you structure everything in your life, and can help you work more effectively.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t do your job without?
Aside from Microsoft OneNote? 😀 Strong stakeholder relationships. You can design a comms plan, but without ongoing feedback from target audience, it might not be a very good one.

Good relationships help you identify best practice. They’re also great for reassurance and guidance on ways to tackle challengers.

What is the future of internal communication?
The future of internal communications naturally is moving with technology and I strongly believe it lies in the power of digital.

One day digital webinars across huge groups will be just part of the norm and CEOs will be able to reach their global businesses at the touch of a button.

However, I sincerely believe that the face-to-face communications will forever hold it’s place to land big messages. You just cannot beat personal engagement.

Where can people find you online?
Twitter and LinkedIn mainly. You can see what I eat for breakfast on Instagram but not sure anyone cares about that!  or Twitter @commsjanfitz

Post author: Janice Fitzgerald.

Thank you very much Janice.

Want to sit in my hot seat? If you’re an in-house practitioner or freelancer, here are the questions.

Baking it better

I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity shown by readers of the All Things IC blog, clients, contacts and friends in supporting my family.

I wrote the other day why I’m #Bakingitbetter for Great Ormond Street Hospital to thank them for their care of my son and our family.

I’ve never shared any information about my son’s heart condition online before, and my bravery was rewarded by your kindness. Thank you.

This morning we reached £700, which is simply remarkable. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I know it will help make the world of difference to the hospital and other families like mine.

This week

I’ve had an incredibly varied week, it has included judging the Institute of Internal Communication awards, attending SmileExpo17, working for a media client and running my latest Strategic Internal Communication Masterclass.

It wouldn’t feel right to write about this week without mentioning the appalling events that happened in Manchester. My heart breaks for families and friends of those impacted by such an unthinkable act. The front pages here in the UK are full of stories of heroic acts and deeds from the emergency services and members of the public, plus tributes to the 22 people who lost their lives.

The communication activities from Greater Manchester Police have been exemplary and the hard work by Amanda Coleman and the team will no doubt continue for a long time.

I held a minute silence as a mark of respect during my Masterclass yesterday, to give a moment for professional communicators to pause and reflect on all the events of this week in their own way.

Come and learn about comms
My brain is still buzzing from all the conversations at the Masterclass yesterday, pictured below.

There are just two places left for my next Masterclass on 27 June in London.

If you’re wondering whether attending is right for you, here are some comments from the communicators who came yesterday:

“If you only invest in one internal comms course this year, make it this one. It’s packed with expert advice, practical ‘take-aways’ and guaranteed ‘light bulb’ moments! One of the most informative and engaging internal communications courses I’ve invested in. So glad I came. Brilliant! Thank you Rachel” – David Manning, Head of Communications, AB Agri Ltd.

“I really enjoyed the Masterclass: a perfect blend of learning points, refreshers and even reassurance that we’re on the right track, with superb teaching, discussion among peers and different perspectives. I feel re-energised and inspired to take our internal comms to the next level” – Ines Osbourne, Senior Internal Communications Manager, Office for Nuclear Regulation.

“A wonderful day , practical and progressive” – Angie Main, Bellebeck Limited.

I hope you have a great weekend, thank you for stopping by.

I’m going to leave you with this final thought via Manchester United and Manchester City Football teams.


First published on the All Things IC blog 26 May 2017.

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