A question of comms: Steven Murgatroyd

Today’s A question of comms features Steven Murgatroyd, Change Manager – Communications and Engagement at retail chain River Island.

Discover why he thinks you need to create the change you want and the importance of good ideas.

Steven is also the Chair of CIPR Inside, the sector group for IC professionals as part of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

I’ll hand you over to him…

1. When did you know internal communication was what you wanted to do?
I think I knew what I wanted to do what Internal Comms does before I knew what Internal Comms was.

I just saw that people in the call centre I was working in (at the time) weren’t fully engaged with the business and were missing out on important information because no one was telling them about it.

I enjoyed writing good content so saw an opportunity to start sharing information with people in a format they would enjoy.

I later found out that there was a thing called Internal Comms that did that and much much more. Pretty much from that point forward I knew it was what i wanted to do!

2. What do you like most about working in this field?
Probably the ability I have to influence company culture, employee satisfaction and opinions of senior leaders.

Most functions have a way of doing things and people follow that process, but because Internal Comms isn’t as established in some organisations, it makes it far easier for me to come in and shake things up and also for people to listen to me.

3. What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
You only get out what you put in…my Dad always used to say this to me and he was right. You don’t achieve anything by sitting down and waiting for things to happen. You have to create the change you want

4. What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a career in comms?
Do it! Get involved and make sure you build networks both inside and outside your organisation.

Good ideas are good ideas no matter what industry you work in so make sure you listen to people who work in vastly different industries to you and think about how you can take their knowledge and help your company with it.

5. What does a typical day or working week look like for you?
In my current role i get the pleasure of working in a few different areas. I’m usually in Chelsea House (HQ) near Hanger Lane in London on a Monday and Tuesday. These are normally my days to catch up with people, get updates on projects.

We work in sprint cycles so sometimes it will also involve ending a sprint and starting the next. Wednesday and Thursday I work from our technology office in Shoreditch. It’s a much smaller, but also much cooler, office. On Wednesday’s it’s usually very quiet there, so I’ll use that day to focus on some of the bigger strategic pieces of work I have on. It’s a good chance to get my head down and not be interrupted.

Thursday is the day when everyone works from the tech office so it’s a lot busier and tends to be the day that I’ll catch up with the people I spoke to on Monday. We update on progress and decide what needs to be done. Then on Friday I work from home and again that’s a good day for me to get my head down and focus on the detail of the projects I’m looking after.

6. Name a book you think every communicator should read, and why you’ve chosen it
This would probably change every month, and I might struggle to name just one.

Drive by Dan Pink, because it changed the way I thought about motivating people and how to engage with them. Culture Shock by Will McInnes because it helped me understand what culture really is and how I could influence it. And finally Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal, this book helped me understand how flat org structures and agile processes can work for any organisation and if done well will add value.

7. What’s the one thing you couldn’t do your job without?
Passion. I’ve spent a lot of my career hearing how ‘that won’t work here’ or ‘we’ve tried that before’ and I have to explain why it will work here or it will be different this time.

Everyone thinks they can do my job better than me

We all know how to write…but comms is so much more than that and without a passion to do the right thing it would be very easy to either give up or just accept what people tell me!

8. What is the future of internal communication?
I don’t know, I’d rather focus on what the present on Internal Communications is and make sure I’m flexible and adaptable enough to move with the times when things change in the future.

9. Where can people find you online?

On Twitter @steve_murg, and LinkedIn.

Thank you Steven. Some fantastic book ideas there and I enjoyed reading your answers. Thank you.

Want to know more about CIPR Inside? Their AGM is on Monday 13 March in London, it’s free and all are welcome to attend.

Your name here?
If you’re an in-house or freelance comms professional and would like to be in my virtual hot seat, do contact me to see your name here.

See who I’ve featured so far:

  • A question of commsRachel Miller, Director, All Things IC
  • A question of commsLou Robinson, Global Internal Comms Lead, Costa
  • A question of commsSara Luker, EMEA Content Manager, eBay
  • A question of commsGary Vyse, PR & Engagement Lead at Alternative Futures Group
  • A question of comms: Helen Deverell, Director, Helen Deverell Communications
  • A question of comms:  Katy Gibbins, Head of Internal Communications and Engagement, Department for Culture Media and Sport
  • A question of comms: Shona Sullivan, Communications and Engagement Executive, Capita BBC Audience Services
  • A question of commsKeith Lewis, UK Social Business and Channels Manager for Zurich Insurance
  • A question of comms: Kerry Sheehan, Head of Communications at North East London NHS Foundation Trust.

Learn more about internal communication

There are a handful of spaces left on my upcoming Strategic Internal Comms Masterclass on 23 March in London.

If you’re a senior-level practitioner and would like to boost your skills, have a confidential place to air problems and learn alongside peers, this is the course for you.

Save your place via my Masterclasses website. Nonprofit organisations can save 20% using the code NFP20.

First published on the All Things IC blog 4 March 2017.

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