Internal communications gurus, I need your help!
September 10, 2014 5:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm a former journalist and I'm interviewing for an internal comms position at a large corporation tomorrow. Before I got the interview, I didn't even really know what internal communications were beyond companies communicating with their employees. Apparently, as you internal comms professionals out there know, there's lots more to it.

I just read this article about trends in internal communications: I still feel a bit lost. Please give me a crash course on internal communications, complete with buzzwords and snappy things I can say to seem smart.
posted by timpanogos to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Timpanogos - I know a lot about this, I guess, but unfortunately I don't have a great deal of time at the moment. I'm just going to quickly jot down a few thoughts.

* Most importantly, you don't get your communications read because management thinks they are important, or because you urge everyone to read them. Employees have to actively *want* to read them. So your communications should be short, informative, relevant and sometimes funny. I'm a big fan of an informal and even sometimes a bit self-deprecating style.

* There is no substitute for face-to-face communications. Propose a monthly "Ask the boss" brown-bag lunch, or something like that.

* "Ask the boss"-type columns can also be big hits for employee newsletters and the like. Typically, it will be something like, people send their questions to you, you farm them out to subject matter experts, they return the answers to you and the CEO reviews/approves them.

* Every "hurdle" you put between employees and your communication will lower the rate of consumption -- and this includes seemingly minor things like clicking links and opening attachments. At one job, I had the greatest success by posting news on the intranet, but one a day sending out an email one-sentence summaries and links to the intranet items.

Sorry I don't have time to write more! Hope this helps a bit!!
posted by Alaska Jack at 6:24 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh - if you have more specific questions, I can try to take a crack at them if I have time.
posted by Alaska Jack at 6:24 PM on September 10, 2014

The keywords are: "pithy and informative".
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:56 PM on September 10, 2014

It's a job where you're going to be privy to a lot of information before anyone else in the company is. You might want to highlight your ability to keep privileged information to yourself.
posted by kythuen at 7:02 PM on September 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

You're interviewing to be the mouthpiece that makes your boss look good, even when the news is bad. Buzzword is "change management" - how do you help your leaders influence employees to make changes in the company?
posted by samthemander at 9:21 PM on September 10, 2014

This is my career and has been for about a decade, from journalism, but this question is the equivalent of asking mum to do your homework the morning it is due, lol.

My advice, get on linked in and look at the internal communication groups. Use your knowledge of editing, editorial and what gets eyeballs and apply that to employees, they are your readers now. What you used to think of as style guide or "voice" becomes "brand" or branding and you stay on it. There may also be a style guide. Your angle is your keen sense of what the person in the street wants and thinks, ability to construct a human story and facility for translating abstract or or technical concepts into accessible language. And you know grammar and spelling and shit. Web publishing experience is often lacking and talk about metrics: internal comms people often have pathological fear of them and general ignorance, it will help differentiate you.

Give them the impression you don't leave things to the very last minute (like this question ;) ) but do talk about regularly meeting deadlines. There is a perception, in my experience, that deadlines in journalism are crazier than corporate deadlines, so it often gets unwarranted respect.
posted by smoke at 12:49 AM on September 11, 2014

I have a similar job. I love to learn new things and it has helped me immensely. If they ask you if you've had experience with X, make sure you indicate that you haven't had the chance yet, but you'd LOVE to do it soon. Communications has a lot of variety so I think it is important to appear willing to do 'other duties as assigned.'

An example: our organization had a public access TV show for a while. One day they asked me to be the floor manager for it. I had never done anything remotely similar, but I jumped at the chance, asked questions, and became the go-to guy for that role.
posted by tacodave at 3:51 PM on September 11, 2014

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