The roles Internal Comms plays that you might not realize

By Amanda Berry
simpplr-blog-09-29-2022-3
When we “wear a lot of hats” at work, that means we have multiple jobs to do, depending on what’s needed at the moment. In today’s modern workplace, many of us ‘wear a lot of hats’ with pride, showing off our versatility and talent, solving a myriad of challenges, and making it look effortless. But it isn’t really effortless, is it? Quite often, multiple hat-wearers are stretched pretty thin.  One often-misunderstood department is internal communications (IC). Our hat rack is pretty full, though most people have no idea.  Internal communications professionals are veritable shape-shifters who do much more than publish a newsletter, write communications for the CEO, or update an intranet page. What are our many roles? 

Here are a few common hats we wear in IC:

  • Wedding coordinator: Close your eyes and imagine what a wedding planner does before, during, and after the event. Wedding coordinators play a very important internal communications role. They are the glue that plan and execute a significant event, coordinating with vendors, making last-minute decisions, negotiating contracts, giving advice, and solving problems on the fly. Coordinators manage the timeline and make sure the event goes off without a hitch. They are the critical point-person before, during, and after the event. If you think about it, that’s what Internal Communications does, too. We coordinate every detail of an event (e.g., a town hall) or make sure a communication plan is created and executed without any issues. And if problems arise, we are the ones who work through solutions.
  • Ace Detective: Jake Peralta on Brooklyn 99 could learn from us. Have two leaders ever given you inconsistent, contradictory, or unclear information? Or has a leader provided the gist of communication, but left out enough detail for you to have 20 questions you need answers to before a message can go out? We are behind-the-scenes detectives, investigating every corner to get answers. 
  • Researcher: We often know very little about some of the industries we work in, or about the subject of some projects we work on—whether it’s insurance and financial services, human resources, higher education, hospitality, or tech. But within the first 30 to 90 days, it’s up to us to become subject matter experts. Along with learning about the organization and its people, we dig deep into the subject and learn everything we can—as quickly as we can— so that we can contribute to the discussions in thoughtful and meaningful ways. 
  • Archeologist: Imagine us trying to decipher messages like ancient hieroglyphics to make sense of communications and ensuring we pass on the right information, with the right meaning—and then we help employees understand it. And, like Indiana Jones, we dig up the past to help explain the present and future. We use our experience, study the artifacts and documents, and interpret data to determine future trends. 
  • The Hand of leaders One of the most critical things IC practitioners do is advise leaders regarding communications timing, frequency, messaging, and channels. It’s a little like the Hand of the King in Game of Thrones—but without the violence, of course! Internal Comms knows what’s going on in every part of the organization at all times. We know what’s coming, we understand sensitivities, and we know what questions employees have. Internal communications spend a lot of time discussing options with leaders and helping lead them to the proper conclusion on how to proceed. Assisting them makes us trusted partners and advisors to leaders. They look to us for advice, and we must carefully and respectfully give our opinions on a variety of topics. 
  • Mediator: Departments and leaders not seeing eye-to-eye on a project or issue? Call in IC. Mediators play a vital internal communications role because they must work between leaders, employees, departments, and vendors to find a middle ground to keep things moving forward.
  • Ghostwriter: A ghostwriter is a unique talent because we channel the voice of the “real” author. When executives put their name on presentation, talking points, newsletter articles, intranet content, and more, it’s often quietly authored by an IC practitioner. Executives don’t have time to write content, even if they want to! So we work to suit each individual and every kind of situation. We edit their content for message, voice, and tone to ensure it is all consistent—and that the leaders we write for are happy with the persona we put out for them.
  • Master of Ceremonies: Internal comms leaders find themselves filling in the role of event moderators and emcees. While many of us are as nervous about presenting in front of the entire company, we learn to control those butterflies in our stomachs so they fly in a choreographed way. Standing in front of a large group of people is never easy. However, if that’s what’s is required of us, count on us to rise to the occasion.
  • Data analyst: Data is the lifeblood of internal comms. All IC professionals use data to show our value to an organization, explain employee insights and trends, and act as a microphone for employees. As IC practitioners, we need to show data that proves that through our efforts, we improve the company’s overall performance strategically.
  • Tech and tool master: As internal communicators, we spend a great deal of time using tech to build and execute communications. So it’s no surprise that when leaders need help with communication technology, they look to us. Whether it’s posting content on the intranet or locating the company slide template, we are there to assist leaders anytime.
  • Graphic designer: Most leaders understand the value of a well-designed slide deck. It keeps people interested in and engaged with the content. Though the real heroes of a good creative deck are presentation designers, leaders sometimes ask IC to improve a last-minute presentation or slide. And as communications professionals, we stand ready. 
  • Video producer: Being able to create a video from beginning to end is one skill all IC professionals need to learn because video is a necessary component of your  internal communications plan and strategy. In a mostly-virtual working environment, employees want to see and hear leaders rather than just read their words in an email or a newsletter. Fortunately, you can learn video editing skills fairly quickly, and there are a ton of basic editing software to choose from. Some even come standard with new operating systems.
  • Trusted advisor: As internal communications practitioners, we spend a good amount of time working with leaders. We help them communicate in ways that engage audiences. We ask good questions and give leaders direct and honest feedback. In addition, they know we have a birds-eye-view of the entire organization. So whether we are giving a temperature check for how employees might perceive decisions, crafting messages, or deciding on when to communicate, it’s no wonder that IC practitioners are trusted advisors to executives and leaders.
This list of internal communications roles barely scratches the surface of all of the hats we wear as IC practitioners. Employees and leaders know that we can handle any problem or task they throw our way. This is one way we build trust. But no matter which hat we are wearing (spoiler: we often wear more than one at any given time), internal comms is an important and necessary force in any organization.

GET SIMPPLR

Connect with Simpplr

/