AB Thinks  →  14th March 2024

Learning from the best: Lessons from a lifelong career in comms

If you had the chance to speak to someone at the end of their comms career, you’d take it, right?

Seeking advice from those who have stood in your shoes is a great way to develop your own approach to internal communication and forge ahead in your career. The tools may change, the businesses evolve, but relationship strategy lasts forever.

Danielle Bond recently joined host Katie Macaulay on The Internal Comms Podcast. Danielle is an award-winning marketing and communications executive who recently retired after 35 years in marketing and communications.

Danielle led the Brand Corporate Communications and Marketing function for consulting engineering firm Aurecon for 14 years. She has also led marketing teams for EY and several leading Australian law firms, including Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

Here are her five lessons from a life in communications.

Relationships matter
Danielle says the most important thing she’s learned about navigating the corridors of power is that relationships really are everything. They should spread right across your peer group and the business, but they should also have depth. You must invest time in building relationships with people so that you can understand how you can best support them. This will all pay off when you’re seeking their buy-in.

Focus on where you can add value
As Danielle says, “you need to figure out how you can best add value to the organisation and stay really focused on that.” Being valued is more than being seen as helpful. Being valued in a corporate context is helping the organisation be successful, and hearing that back from colleagues. Once you start delivering value, the people who matter will ‘get’ you and will seek out your contribution.

Zoom out
When comms people look at a business problem, they see a comms solution. But when HR or IT look at that same problem, they see a completely different challenge and solution. As business problems don’t come in siloes, you need to work across the business to unearth the most effective way of tackling a solution. This is where your relationships really come into play.

Know where to play and how to win
Defining strategy is a challenge for internal communicators, and differentiating it from the countless others in your sector can be difficult. So, Danielle prefers to ask communicators to find their organisation’s competitive advantage by defining ‘where you want to play and how you can to win’. Should you prioritise digital transformation, because the success of your business depends on your digital capability? Ask yourself what critical elements will help you succeed, and refine your focus.

Be bold and brave
You’ll feel nervous when you’re just starting out. Approaching stakeholders can seem like a mammoth task, but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone helps forge a successful career. “Your first 100 days should be about going and finding out how [the organisation] ticks, asking questions and forming a view based on your experience and the conversations that were had when you were brought in,” says Danielle.

Learn more from Danielle’s career in comms in the full episode.