The changing role of the internal communicator

The last seven days have been hectic. An unconference, a forum meeting, a networking dinner, an interview in The Times, an amazing gig and….oh yeah, sign off on the huge Enterprise Social Network project me and the team have been working on for the whole of our lives. So in the calm before the implementation storm, some thoughts on the week’s major theme; the changing role of the internal communicator.

Communications? PR? Marketing? – we need to be able to wear all three hats, or at least be able to walk in all three pairs of shoes.

Comfortable behind our desks – we can’t continue to expect people to come to us. We need to be out there making change happen, visible and essential. In our rush for a seat at the table, we have to leave our own seat behind once in a while.

Embrace your marketing colleagues – there was a recurring theme at ‘The big Yak’ of marketing being the competition. “They have the biggest budget”, “They have more sway”. Marketing people are people too – talk to them, learn from them, work with them not against them. There’s an immediacy to marketing because they understand the link between what they do and the bottom line. Maybe that’s not as tangible to some of us in Comms.

Making comms ‘sexy’ again – Marketing is ‘sexy’ because they make it so. Networking, dinners, awards, events, clients. We have those things too people!

Socialising the workplace – the emergent role of the social business manager. Doing this right means the marrying together of all the above and understanding that ‘social’ and ‘digital’ are just words. Communicate the business benefit of an ESN (Enterprise Social Network) or a simple Twitter feed, show people what’s in it for them, and don’t expect it to be easy!

Community – two elements to this. 1) Community Management – understand what this means to your business and to you. The tools we now have at our disposal are changing this from a little bit of what we all do, to the be all and end all. 2) You’re not alone. There’s a growing, engaged community of practitioners out there to learn from and who want to learn from you. Follow @theICcrowd for a start and switch on to a whole bunch of people walking in your shoes.

Finally, and this may be just me, but having been the quiet ones (all things are relative…) in the corner, suddenly the ‘digital’ part of Grant Thornton’s Comms team is going to be awfully noisy from now on. ESN signed off and social business hats pulled tightly on, call it what you want but the ‘digi’ boys and girls are coming!!!

What changes do you see coming over the horizon for communicators?

Putting my neck on the line

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I’m not the world’s most organised person. Being a father of two, holding down a full time job, maintaining my interests, finding downtime – all these things contribute to a life that can sometimes feel a little too full. It can sometimes feel like the world is moving at great pace and all you want to do is get off for a while

So how do you ensure that you’re consistently at your best for your family, colleagues and friends? Easy, you slip a disc in your neck!

Clearly I’m not suggesting this as a preferred way of achieving the perfect work/life balance, but for me it has fundamentally changed the way I’ve done things for near on 3 months.

1st change – laptop stays home. Can’t/shouldn’t carry it so don’t.

2nd change – bunch my meetings together and work from home when not in meetings.

3rd change – keep moving. Sitting, standing, desk working all take their toll. As soon as I feel that familiar ache and the pins and needles hit, it’s up and off. Laps of my floor, out for a coffee, a desk side chat or now the weather’s changed, a stretch on the grass outslde Euston.

Again, I’m not suggesting universal laptop mutiny, but simply that each and everyone of us thinks about the amount of time spent static or welded to our inboxes, hunched over tiny screens, lunches at desks….we all recognise at least one of these, no?

You could also argue that it’s fine for me. My role is all about the use of digital communication and social media. Surely I can afford to do things a little differently?

Baby steps people! Just offering to do the tea round may be enough? Running to the shops. Whatever…don’t wait until your neck snaps before you take up my advice.

On the basis of this BBC article, (Office workers, bankers, IT experts and couch potatoes beware. Doctors are warning sitting down for too long can shorten lives. So how can the chair be countered?) I’m suggesting Grant Thornton buys a funky coffee machine, I train as a Barista and turn out coffees for Euston House between 9 and 10.30 each morning. I’ll be on my feet, colleagues will be on their feet and you can be sure that by 10.30 each day I’d have all the water cooler gossip and conversation. I’d feel the pulse of Grant Thornton House!

Surely that’s the essence of social communication and what we’re trying to achieve? 😉