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WHERE IC PROFESSIONALS COME TO TALK

'LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN': IC EXPERTS' ADVICE TO THOSE STARTING OUT IN THE SECTOR

When you’ve been in internal comms for a few years, you pick up a few tips and tricks to make the job run a little easier. But where do you start when you’re new to the sector? We asked some internal comms pros, what advice would you give someone starting out in IC?

4th June 2018

Take advantage of opportunities to get out and about in your organisation to find out more about what it does, how it works and get your presence known. The relationships you build will be invaluable – whether that's getting sign-off for comms or being in the loop so you hear about the great things your people are up to so you can share it!
Lisa Riemers, freelance digital communications specialist


Understand how business works – not just your business, but the general principles all businesses work on. The sooner you can hold conversations about the world your leaders operate in, the more credible you’ll be.
Cathryn King, director and consultant, InsideOut Communications


Pick your battles, but hold yourself and your work to the same standard you’d expect as a consumer. And if the IT or risk team wants to make things more complex, keep asking ‘why’ until you get an actual reason.
Kevin Zimmerman, internal communications leader


Always look for ways of adding value to everything you do, try to be creative, have fun with your colleagues and take calculated risks – but allow yourself to make mistakes. And enjoy it – a fantastic career awaits!
Janet Lessells, leadership communications manager, SGN 


Don’t be desk-bound. Wander around and find out what people are talking about, what questions they have, what their concerns are. If you’re desk-bound in IC, you’re probably a mouthpiece for senior managers.
James Miller, digital communications  specialist, Advertising Standards Authority


1) Get to know people, create your internal network across the company and spend some time in the cafeteria. 2) Listen, listen, listen. 3) Do not assume, always check understanding and test. 4) Be perseverant: if you are pushed out by the door, get in by the window.
Judith Desporte, senior consultant, ITGE Groupe
 

First of all, be a good listener of your stakeholders, position your team as an ever-helpful support and embrace the art of gathering: translate what you’ve heard into key communications solutions.
Talita Barbary, communications assistant, Seguradora Lider


Understanding your audience can be your biggest asset. Talk to people, listen, look at the data, remember how people respond to different messages/changes. Use all of that to become the best person in your organisation at predicting how staff will respond to a message/change. Start predicting with accuracy and your credibility will grow.
Oli Howard, internal communication and engagement professional


The IC network is not the only network in a company. People have relationships with colleagues based on their job roles, hometown origins, sports, schools/universities, their age groups or their love of dogs, scuba diving or heavy metal! It’s very powerful for IC to identify these informal organic networks and, where appropriate, celebrate them. It makes it easier to do business/strategy-related work with people who you already know from their other interests.
Andrew Thompson, communications manager


Be open to opportunities linked to IC. As well as starting out as a press officer, I have also focused on employee engagement and change management at different times in my career. They have all added strings to my IC bow and help me now when I am working with colleagues in those disciplines.
Sian Weaver, employee communications and change management professional


Invest time upfront to understand what change stakeholders are looking to achieve before starting to get into tactics and channels. It can be challenging, particularly in businesses where comms teams might historically have been seen as the “paper boy” of the organisation, but it’s worth the effort. Understanding why will help you to be more effective and to do what's best for both leaders and employees.
Martin Fitzpatrick, internal communications & engagement business partner, B&Q


Do sweat the small stuff when you're starting out in internal comms. Knowing your craft and being good at what you do is what gets you trusted. Don't be afraid to try new things and make mistakes along the way, but make sure you learn from them. My favourite quote: good judgement comes from experience. And experience comes from poor judgement.
Emma Ridgeon, internal communication consultant, The Body Shop


Get to know your audience as well as possible – before they know who you are! That way you get the unedited true perceptions. Then get out and learn about the business, the market and your competitors – find out what changes and challenges are coming down the pipe so you are prepared for them in the future. That's the first thing. The last thing I'd do is talk about channels and tactics.
David Norton, corporate change and communication lead, CommsQuest


You need to build your comms network and continue to invest in your comms learning and development. Both have been invaluable to me; my network especially when I’ve been faced with things that I have no clue how to do, but have an idea of a person who may know how...
Justine Stevenson, internal communication at London Stock Exchange


Connections, conversations and audience-first. And remember, one of the biggest problems in communication is the illusion that it has taken place!
Nicola Lally, director of internal communication


Don't stop believing... The changes are often subtle, but they build and, one day, you will look back and realise just how far you have come and how much has been done.
Emma Alcock, RALC Consulting


Remember, your job is not to please the people at the top, it’s to engage the people at the bottom. Never forget your audience and keep listening.
Richard Hale, internal communications expert

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