What’s it like to work in internal comms?

What is the current state of the internal communication sector? What is it like to work in internal comms?

Now is the time for your voice to be heard – because you know exactly what it’s like. Today I have news of two ways you can have your say, and invite you to do so.

Every year Gatehouse and VMA Group run their respective surveys – State of the Sector and Inside Insight – to find out more about our profession and how it is progressing.

But which one should you complete? What’s the difference between them and is it worth doing both?

Jenni Field @mrsjennifield caught up with Gatehouse and VMA Group to find out a bit more about the surveys and discover why we should take the time to have our say this year.

I’m delighted to publish her interview so you can hear views from Lee and Andrew, who are representing their respective surveys. I’ve known them both for a number of years and think you’ll enjoy the conversation below. I certainly found it interesting to read their thoughts.

I encourage you to contribute to both surveys. I think the more people who want to analyse views and equip communicators with evidence and insight, the better. So thank you to both Gatehouse and VMA Group for continuing to provide these surveys for us.

We need to have our say to make it useful for ourselves. Win-win.

I regularly refer to both sets of results in my work, not least, in my Masterclasses. I find it useful to benchmark against others and seeing as one of the key skills for IC pros is to be curious, it surely suits us perfectly to access this data. I know I value it.

My thanks to Jenni, Chair of CIPR Inside and Director at Redefining Communications, Lee Smith, Director at Gatehouse and Andrew Harvey, Executive Director, VMA Group for creating this article.

Here’s Jenni…

1) Can you tell me what your survey is and how long it’s been running?

Andrew Harvey, VMA Group: This is the 7th year that VMA Group has been running Inside Insight, an in-depth review / survey of the UK Internal Comms sector.

The survey focuses on the development of the sector in general terms, but also takes a look at the changing nature of skills in demand, professional development, career opportunities and other things that every IC professional wants to know – salaries and benefits paid to IC professionals in the market.

Over the last couple years our survey has focused increasingly on the IC Interim market which continues to grow in the UK and is a large part of VMA Group’s specialist service we provide to companies and teams in the sector

Lee Smith, Gatehouse: The State of the Sector 2018 marks the 10th edition of our annual survey of IC practices, channels and challenges.

It is the longest established and most global survey of the IC space. After a decade, the research has allowed us to gather a considerable amount of benchmark data and to paint a fascinating picture of the moving IC landscape and the progress we are making as professionals.

2) Why do you run the survey?

Andrew: We run the survey to provide some detailed and in-depth analysis of the sector, which we know is valued by a variety of stakeholders – IC professionals, Comms Directors, HR Directors and CEOs. It provides genuine research and insight, rather than just opinion.

VMA Group has been recruiting in the IC space for the last 40 years (although it probably wasn’t called IC when we started) and therefore we are passionate about doing everything we can to support the industry.

We know that our previous research into the IC market has helped individuals develop their careers and it has helped organisations improve their internal communications.

Lee: When we launched State of the Sector back in 2008, the internal communication profession was still relatively immature. As a new agency at the time – Gatehouse was established just two years before – we were keen to capture hard evidence on the state of our profession.

Over time, it has grown to become a significant benchmark for in-house internal communicators all around the world.

3) As you’ve run it for a number of years, what has been the most useful insight?

Andrew: There are many pieces of useful insight in the report which focus on channel usage, budgets, team size, strategic development etc.

One of the most interesting trends over the last few years has been to track the ‘professional development of IC practitioners’ and understand what IC pros are doing or not doing which will impact the sector over the next 5 – 10 years.

Our research tells us that CPD within the IC profession is pretty low and I personally feel that CPD is one thing that could help boost the IC profession over the next few years. Equally a lack of CPD could be the one thing that holds it back from achieving its true potential.

Lee: The survey has allowed us to chart the evolution of our profession. While the first few editions focused heavily on tactics and channels, our focus has gradually shifted towards listening strategies, feedback channels and measurement.

State of the Sector has enabled us to track the progress of the IC profession as it has moved from a largely broadcast model, into the employee engagement era.

The research has also witnessed the rise of interactive digital channels and social media, which have revolutionised the way organisations engage with their employees. Planning and strategy have also emerged as key areas of focus as internal communicators have increasingly sought to position themselves as trusted advisors.

4) How does the survey help the internal communication professional?

Andrew: It provides genuine insight into the changing nature of the IC sector and for any aspiring IC professional it is a really useful report, which could support individual growth, knowledge and career development. Over the years we know it has been used by in-house professionals looking to build business cases for team growth, negotiation on their current role and more.

Lee: The survey is deliberately practical in its focus – rather than being an academic exercise, it is intended as a tool to help practitioners to understand where they stand in relation to others, to identify gaps in their internal communication practices and to provide useful insight to support planning and personal development. Every year, the report generates lots of discussion and debate in the profession too – helping identify areas for collective improvement.

5) Why should people take the time to complete it?

Andrew: We do this survey to support the IC industry. The more IC professionals that complete it, the more information, insight and data we will have to share with the IC profession.

It only takes 10 minutes to complete, but used in the right way, the research could help propel someone’s professional IC knowledge and even their career.

In addition, everyone that completes the survey will be entitled to a free copy of the report and will be entered into a draw for a £150 retail voucher.

Lee: This is the definitive annual review of the IC space and the longest established survey of its type, so why wouldn’t you want to be part of that?!

It takes just 10-15 minutes to complete it and, in return for their valuable time, respondents will receive a pre-launch soft copy of the full report which they will be able to use as part of their planning. They will also be entered into a prize draw for the opportunity to win a place at Accelerate, our four-day IC masterclass, together with a full year of membership of the Institute of Internal Communication – a combined value of more than £3,200.

6) How can we complete the survey and when does it close?

Andrew: The survey will be open until December 2017 and can be completed online.

Lee: The survey will run until 30 November online. State of the Sector is aimed primarily at in-house communication professionals.

When will it be published?

Andrew: We expect to publish the results in February 2018 we will run events across the UK covering the results. We can even come to you to present the findings to you and your team. To make sure you don’t miss out be sure to leave your details in the survey and we will be in touch once the report is published.

Lee: A detailed research report and infographic will be published in early February 2018 on Gatehouse website, as well as on our partners’ websites (including CIPR Inside!) We will follow-up with a webinar to introduce the key findings and give people a chance to reflect and ask questions. The best way to make sure that you get the full report is by taking part in the survey and/or signing up for our updates.

Post author: Jenni Field.

Thank you Jenni, Lee and Andrew for sharing your thoughts. Here are those links again: VMA Inside Insight and Gatehouse State of the Sector

CIPR State of the sector survey

Just in case two surveys weren’t enough, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations is also asking for your views (phew!). Its State of the Profession survey has also just gone live.

A spokesperson for CIPR told me: “Delivered in partnership with Chalkstream, the ninth edition of ‘State of the Profession‘ gives you the opportunity to have your say on the big issues affecting public relations and your career.

“We’ll use the results to publish industry intelligence on issues including skills, salaries and recruitment trends and we’ll also use the data to shape our policies and services. Whether you’re on your mobile, tablet or desktop, the survey will take between 10 and 15 minutes to complete. This year we are pledging 50p for every completed survey to the charity iprovision (to a maximum of £250). Respondents can also enter a prize draw to win a new iPad.”

Learn more about internal communication

Want to learn more about internal communication? If you’re new to IC, I have just the course for you.

There’s just one place left at my Internal Communication Masterclass on 22 November 2017. Come and join me in London to learn face-to-face with your peers.

This Masterclass is ideal if you’re new to the profession or have up to five years’ experience. I’d love to help you learn about the wonderful world of IC, hear your problems and give you the confidence to return to work ready to tackle your challenges.

You’ll boost your knowledge and skills, plus have the opportunity to meet other in-house practitioners.

See my All Things IC Masterclass page for all  you need to know. If you’re an IoIC or CIPR member you can save 20% and earn CPD.

Other upcoming courses include:

Thank you for stopping by,


First published on the All Things IC blog 13 November 2017.SaveSave





  1. Natalia says:

    Hi Rachel, can non-UK i-coms also participate in the survey or provide feedback? I would love to participate and hence also receive the copy of the report, which would be useful for our benchmark and further improvement of movement-wide internal comms. But we are not UK-based. Thanks a lot, Natalia

  2. Hi Natalia, yes I believe so, I’ll ask Lee and Andrew for you, Rachel.

  3. Thanks a lot for the positive answer, Rachel. Just did both.

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