In her role as Head of Internal Comms for the Irish police force, Joanna Parsons found that her ‘brand’ of internal comms was just the right fit. While regulated, private sector firms can often have very rigid external messaging, Joanna took her audience in a new direction – she knew that internal comms doesn’t always need to mirror the external voice.
“My own personal brand would be very much around authenticity, kind of a sense of humour and creativity, and a commercial alignment to business results.” Joanna Parsons told host Katie Macaulay on a recent episode of The Internal Comms Podcast.
Of course, there will be many IC tasks out there that call for a technical, more traditional corporate voice. But if you thrive when tackling IC tasks with a more collegiate, jovial tone you won’t be the right fit for the traditional corporate role.
“In the newsletter, I used memes, cartoons, infographics, puns… Anything to make it memorable to get the key messages across.”
The newsletter was a drumbeat of daily comms Joanna pushed out to the 18,000-strong workforce throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. She spent much of her early weeks sitting and listening, gauging how the workforce communicates, when colleagues were most likely to pay attention to internal messages and where the gaps in knowledge were about the subjects she was hired to deliver.
As we evolve as comms professionals, every meeting, role and event will help inform who we want to be and how we want to show up in the world of work. This, Joanna says, is key to the most effective communication. So keep these four things in mind as you navigate your next comms challenge:
#1 Make your wish list
Do you know what you’re looking for in your next internal communications role? Starting with a ‘wish list’ and a series of ‘deal breakers’ could help you on your journey to becoming an effective communicator. With such a huge variety of tones of voice required across the vast world of work, your brand of internal comms will be the perfect fit somewhere. When searching for your next opportunity, jot down who you think you are as a communicator. Do you lead with humour? Are you truth-orientated? Do you prefer to keep things as formal as possible? All of these traits will help you decide very early on in the process if a position is right for you.
#2 Connect with leaders
Whether it’s in the workplace, on platforms like LinkedIn or at networking events, be sure to engage with senior leaders from across the world of comms. They will have the experience and insight that you can role model your own brand of comms on. Do you align with Katie Macaulay’s comms style? Book a half hour, confidential chat with her and discover what makes her brand of IC unique.
#3 Always be cordial…
Whatever your brand of comms is, always make sure to be civil, approachable and open to learning. As Joanna tells Katie, the key is to “always be thinking about your personal brand. How do you want people to see you? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to say to each other when you leave the room?” More doors will open to you the more collegial you can be with others, particularly senior leaders.
#4…but don’t be afraid to be bold
As Joanna’s experience communicating to the Irish police force taught her, the current solution might not be the best course of action. If you think your own brand of comms would be a suitable fit for a new role or within your existing workplace, don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Ask questions of your senior leadership team – show them why you think they should make a change, and always come armed with evidence.
Listen to Joanna Parsons on this episode of The Internal Comms Podcast.