A question of comms: Olivia Hall

Discover why Olivia Hall thinks communicators should learn to say no, and which industry is riddled with passion.

She’s the latest professional communicator to sit in my #questionofcomms hot seat and share her thoughts on all things comms related.

Olivia is UK Communications and Marketing Manager at Hoist Finance, I’ll hand you over to her…

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

I’ve always had a passion for people but I actually stumbled my way into Internal Communications in my early 20s. I started off my professional career within TV broadcast, working as part of big production teams across the UK.

Even though this was at the time the dream role for me, something was missing – that connection to people. So I took some out and volunteered with the police force in their communications department and this is where I found my love for all things communication.

Seven years on, and no regrets, my day-to-day role now allows me to influence Leadership Teams in building engaging working environments, it allows me to create recognition schemes to reward and value employees and most importantly, it allows me to support businesses on transformational change with the employee always at the heart of what I do…pretty exciting stuff!

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

The variety, no day is ever the same. The ever-changing landscape allows you to work with all different kinds of people which is fantastic when ultimately it’s all about storytelling.

I love being in this role because everyone has a message they want to be heard and I have the opportunity to make sure the right people hear it.

It’s also well-known that the communication industry in general, in particularly Internal Communications is still quite unknown to most people, therefore the opportunity it offers to people who strive to make a real difference in what they do is endless and I love that.

The industry is riddled with passion and with professionals who want to help each other and for this I feel honoured every day to be part of such a great network.

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

Don’t always say yes, challenge the status quo. Like many people, at the start of my career I thought the right thing to do was always say yes when asked to do something.

Was this an internal desire to please my boss? Or down to lack of confidence in my own skills and knowledge? … probably a bit of both but as the years have passed, I have learnt to challenge and think outside the box with regards to all aspects of my role.

I have worked within many organisations where the belief is no real skill or training is required to be an effective communicator and where sending out an email on behalf of a CEO is a way to engage a workforce and this is something I used to accept until I was given the confidence from an old boss to trust my passion and challenge the status quo. I have since achieved and influenced things I never thought possible.

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

Don’t try and fix the world overnight.

Working in this industry can be incredibly frustrating at times. Often the best solution is the simplest but it can’t always be achieved due to other factors in business.

Influencing the way a business communicates is instrumental in building a credible culture all employees can be proud of but remember, it’s not a sprint but a marathon.

Keep going and always remember why you do what you do.

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

There is no such thing as a typical day really as I look after internal and external comms as part of my role, one day could be dedicated to working on internal people strategies, the next could be managing the latest PR release.

As I’m fortunate enough to work in a business that is European I’m also heavily involved in the pan European strategy that is being developed across site, so my day can be filled with calls to Sweden, France and even Poland. (Not so great when you have a strong Yorkshire accent!) This is what is so special about working within this area, no day is ever the same!

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

Matthew Syed’s book – Black Box Thinking. At a time where as humans we are learning to view failure as a positive, it’s incredibly important as communicators to create an environment of safe risk… and this book really helped me work through my own thought processes around this.

Learning from failure has the status of a cliché and many of us (me included) often don’t want to admit to failure, never mind learn from it but what we all seem to forget is that behind the scenes of failure is the most powerful method of learning known to mankind – Black Box Thinking.

From learning how to increase your positive thinking, developing your resilience, and enabling your growth attitude turn into success, Black Box Thinking is a must read for all communicators looking to tackle a culture transformation in their organisation.

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

Firstly, I couldn’t live a pint of water and a berocca. This is how I start every day off, (it really does work!) but my saving grace is my notepad. I take it with me everywhere, it even lives on my bedside table for those times I wake up in the middle of the night and need to write my ideas down.

With technology taking over the way we communicate, where I can, I like to keep it old school with a pen and paper. 

8. What is the future of internal communication?

The landscape of IC is continuously evolving and the trends towards ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) has risen out of a need for companies to be accessible at all times with the use of mobile applications and devices.

Where once the ‘Out of Office’ email meant an employee was not contactable, now smartphones and tablets allow a constant flow of communication.

Going forward the biggest challenge is going to be managing the volume of communications, gaining employee buy-in and general employee engagement respectively.

It’s a challenging future, but a bright one at that! 

9. Where can people find you online?

You can search for me on LinkedIn where you can find a library of my published blogs, covering a range of subjects.

Post author: Olivia Hall.

Thank you Olivia, I’ve just ordered that book as I think it sounds fascinating, great recommendation, thank you.

Would you like to sit in my hot seat? If you’re an in-house practitioner do get in touch for a link to enable you to complete the questions, or feel free to answer the questions above and send them to me, like Liv did.

Sign up to learn about comms

There are still some spaces left on my next Internal Comms Masterclass on 27 April in London. If you would like to boost your comms skills, do sign up to join me.

If you are new in role, have just taken on responsibility for IC, or have up to five years’ experience, this is the right level for you. If you are at a more senior-level, e.g. Director of Comms, the Strategic IC Masterclass is the one for you and is next running on 25 May.

CIPR and IoIC members, plus nonprofit organisations, can save 20% by using discount codes and earn CPD points/hours.

The All Things IC Masterclasses website contains all the information you need to know to book and save.

See my videos below to discover more about my training courses:

I hope you have a great week,


First published on the All Things IC blog 2 April 2017.

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