What do other departments think of Comms teams and pros? What are you really thinking when talking with your stakeholders?
Today I’ve got a treat for you – a senior communicator has written to share the reality of her working life behind the closed doors of a large corporation.
She’s requested I keep her identity anonymous, and when you read it, you’ll understand why.
So in a first for All Things IC, here is a tongue-in-cheek view of life as an in-house comms pro. I think it provides insight into the perceptions people have of a comms pro/team.
I challenge you not to smile as you read it and nod your head in agreement or recognition.
Does it resonate with you? Perhaps it’s the complete opposite of the relationships and conversations you have?
As ever you’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.
The secret diary of a communicator
7.40am – Another early arrival with THEIR OWN OFFICE ambles into your office, sits down uninvited with a coffee. ‘What you in so early for?’ they ask amiably. You stare hard at the screen, hoping they’ll get the hint.
7.41am – They don’t. Under your desk, your toes reflexively curl up in your shoes. You point at the monitor and smile awkwardly a) because it’s 7.41 so your face is still inside-out and b) because you’re staring at a thicket of impenetrable statistics – that came in at 10pm last night – and need deforesting by 9am.
8.15am – They’re still there. Telling you in buttock-numbing detail about why they’re so overworked (via their divorce you didn’t ask about) and why you have it so easy because you’re in Comms, right? You get a strange whiff they think your job might be the written equivalent of colouring in with chubby wax crayons.
8.30am – Dab at beads of blood on forehead. You say, ‘I’m really sorry but I’ve really got to crack on’. ‘Yeah well just quickly,’ they say. ‘You know that thing about the Thing? The Thing I’d like on the intranet..?’ Your back develops nodules. Previously you had no idea what nodules were.
8.50am – They’re still talking about the Thing. The Thing you asked them to email you about two weeks ago, but they didn’t, because face to face is easier for them.
9.10am – They’re still telling you about the Thing, just quickly. Your toes are now bent double under your soles and your left eye has started fluttering strangely. The point. Please dear God, you sob inside, could you just GET TO THE POINT..? ‘Well, just to give you more background…’ they say. As if from above, you watch your will to live recede like an ebbing tide at sunset.
9.14am – Out of the corner of your one good eye you see your email hellstack building malevolently. Your phone goes. Where was the 9am report you promised? Only 9.14 and you’re already regarded as a disorganised piece of junk. You turn round to tell Coffee Guy to please leave.
9.15am – At which point someone else wanders past, sees Coffee Guy, sits down uninvited with their coffee and says, ‘Aah! Actually, I really wanted to talk to you both about the Thing?’ They proceed to catch up leisurely on how shockingly overworked they both are, their kids’ weekends, and the SMT meeting we were all at yesterday but they didn’t bother to take notes. Can they see yours?
9:20am – Your back nodules develop into goitres. You previously had no idea what goitres were either, except they’re big. Like really big. Like those big dome things at the Eden Project.
9.55am – You finish the report while they’re still talking behind you, hit send. You’ve been so unable to concentrate you wonder if Coffee Guy was actually right about the chubby wax crayons.
9.56am – The second person says ‘Right then, about the Thing I didn’t email you about, can we sort it now, just quickly? It’s an important initiative….’ Coffee Guy says, ‘Yeah, actually I wanted to talk about that too. Our initiative is… Well, it’s all in our heads actually, not on paper yet, but I’m sure you can do something with it…?’
10.20am – You suddenly hear a massively deafening popping noise in your head, which is the sound of every toe bone snapping in your shoes and every neuron and synapse in your head imploding. You let out a stream of uncontrollable bile-flecked invective that’d be worthy of a Channel 4 Documentary, then up-end your desk through the window with your bare hands.
10.28am – Except you don’t. You say, ‘Great. I’ve written that all down for you now. Leave it with me. I’ll write up a Comms implementation plan for the team and get it back to you tomorrow. Does that sound OK?’
Then you stare silently at the wall for a bit.
Umm… does anyone fancy a coffee?
Post author: Ms Anonymous.
First published on All Things IC blog 16 February 2015.