Working under the radar? Or herding cats? Life as an Internal Communicator inside and outside of Group IC


I’ve worked in Internal Communications in many companies on both sides of the divide; both inside and outside the central Group Internal Communications function.

Despite us all being professionals with similar training and approach, I’m always amazed at how difficult it can sometimes feel when you are a communicator embedded in the business and you need to work with people in the central Group Internal Comms function. I’m sure many interims or change communications people will relate to the need to work “under-the-radar” at times.

But then there are just as many occasions, when I’ve worked in the central team, and I’ve often thought it is hard to keep change- or departmental-communications people on-brand, on message and in alignment with the overall employee communications strategy. Rather like herding cats in terms of maintaining some semblance of unity.

So why is this? After all, aren’t we all trying to do the same thing?

It turns out not to be that simple. But why?

Inside Group IC

Well, if you’re inside the Group Internal Communications team, then the chances are you are interested primarily in overall Employee Engagement; interested in what staff think & feel about the company as a whole. To that end you probably want to reduce noise, reduce the number of departmental newsletters and reduce the amount of email traffic to employees, so that it creates a quieter environment for the core strategic business narrative to shine through.

When I’m working in a central function as a business partner or managing a channel like an intranet, I’m often looking for ways to make information feel more manageable for staff.

In the wilds of Change

But if you’re working in a Change Comms role, you’re interested first and foremost in making sure people “know something” or “do something”.

Sometimes the project team will want you to replay every last detail of the project, but your skill as a communicator will be to get down to the nitty-gritty of what people need to know.

So you would communicate, then measure the impact and re-communicate as often as necessary until  you’re reasonably sure that all the people affected know what you need them to know.

Only then can you tell your project team that it’s safe to go-live with a big change.

Working happily together?

So how can Group IC and embedded, functional or change communications work better together?

  1. Trust – remember that we are all professional communicators and it is in our interests to package information in a concise manner that is easy for the reader to digest. It’s also not in our interests to cause “traffic accidents” by putting all the messages out at the same time, but it is sometime unavoidable.
  2. Understanding – talk about our objectives and recognise the differences, recognising we all have an important role. Recognise that each side may have difficult internal stakeholders and be aware that sometimes we need to compromise to meet the business demands in the time available.
  3. Sort out your channels – make sure that the company’s editorial calendar is not chock-full of activities so that there is room and resource to handle the operational, day to day and change related messaging that the business needs.

What do you think?

Can you relate to this?  What are your secrets for keeping a healthy working relationship with communicators throughout the business?

Drop your thoughts in the comments or email me.

3 thoughts on “Working under the radar? Or herding cats? Life as an Internal Communicator inside and outside of Group IC”

  1. Excellent piece: great point, well made. Mission drives behavior and it is indeed really easy for conflicting missions to drive inconsistent IC approaches.

    Interesting your point about Group IC being preoccupied with “think and feel” while Change Comms focuses on “know and do.” You nailed why I tend to gravitate towards change comms! Have a look at an old-but-still-relevant piece I wrote on a similar subject:

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