Over the last few years, internal communications has really proved its worth as a field, supporting employees and giving them a voice in some really difficult times throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of our 2022 Careers in creative industries programme, LSE Careers hosted a skills seminar with two representatives from the Institute of Internal Communication (IOIC) – the only professional body dedicated to internal communications in the UK. But what did we learn?
What is the role of an internal communicator?
Here are just some of the answers the group came up with:
- To engage employees
- To communicate the organisation’s vision and company values
- To align internal stakeholders with the larger organisation vision
- To connect employees with business strategy
- To help ensure employees feel they’re listened to and included in conversations.
But the key take away was…
- Essentially, we are internal marketers.
What skills do you need?
When it comes to internal communications, many of the most important skills for applicants are similar to those for roles in external communications – but with perhaps a stronger emphasis on empathy and flexibility to reactive situations (for example, the almost overnight switch into the COVID-19 lockdown meant internal communications professionals around the world needed to rapidly decide how to effectively communicate updates to employees).
Handily, the IOIC has created a map of all the skills an internal communications professional might need to use. Check it out below to identify which skills and knowledge you might need to develop and demonstrate when applying for roles in this space…
What impact did the pandemic have on approaches to internal communications?
With the onset of the pandemic, fast internal communications became vital. Teams needed to get their leadership visible as quickly as possible, while also creating authentic and useful content for employees. Our speakers highlighted how employees actually preferred seeing raw ‘at home’ content during this time, rather than heavily edited and polished video.
As we ease into returning to the office, diversity and inclusion and mental health support are set to remain key topics in internal communications, so many organisations will have this at the centre of their internal communications planning.
The key takeaway was to remember that with internal communications: it’s about progress not perfection.
Internal communications versus external communications: why internal?
Our speakers spoke primarily of their connection with the purpose of internal communications – driving engagement, culture and leadership, and being the voice, heart and eyes of employees.
Some areas (e.g. employer branding) do crossover with external communications and many of the skills in each area are transferable to the other.
So, what next?
If you think a career in internal communications might be for you, here’s what you can do next…
- Join IOIC Future Net – the network for new entrants into internal communications
- Build your network!
- Book a careers discussion with an LSE Careers consultant
With thanks to Shalini Gupta, Employee Experience Communications Lead at BT and Laura Colantuono, Head of Internal Communications (International) at The Kraft Heinz Company for sharing their insights as representatives from the IOIC.