By now, we're sure you've read, or at least come across, that Cosmopolitan article.
You know – the one which whittled down the vibrant, eclectic, high-pressure, critical role of the internal comms professional to simply ‘organising people’s birthday cakes’. Yes – that one.
The now-infamous article had many an internal communicator up in arms after it was published, and rightly so. While its disparaging jabs at the profession may have been meant in jest (as has since been ostensibly confirmed by Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Farrah Storr), for an industry which is still struggling to assert itself as a crucial, game-changing function within organisations – it certainly didn’t do us any favours.
There's been many a misconception batted around as to what the role of an internal communications professional actually is. The Cosmopolitan article is just the latest in a long line.
But as internal comms experts who work with clients across the globe to devise and implement exciting, compelling, and inspirational IC programmes, we know just how crucial internal comms can be to an organisation, and how it can truly enhance organisational productivity and success. And any internal communicator worth their salt won’t need to be convinced of that either.
What matters is that we show those upon whom internal comms could have a lasting positive impact just how valuable it can be.
While there is evidence that those at the top are starting to cotton on to the real value IC can bring to an organisation, we’ve still got a long way to go before it becomes a fully respected cog in the workplace machine.
We want to do our bit to propel IC to this final, exciting destination.
And who better to quash the damaging assertions about the role of internal communications that Cosmopolitan put forward than those at the heart of the daily cut-and-thrust themselves?
So we asked 12 internal comms professionals two simple questions:
1) What does an internal comms professional actually do?
2) What value do you think IC brings to an organisation?
Here's what they said:
What does an internal communicator actually do?
"In recent months I've often been juggling over 50 projects at once"
"Internal comms professionals help teams and organisations solve annoying problems with better and novel communications ideas and techniques"
"As an IC practitioner, I spent a great deal of my time listening, advising, challenging, 'holding up a mirror', writing, coaching, and building consensus"
"Internal communicators find the best and most ingenious ways to build an authentic, meaningful connection between employees and their organisations"
So internal comms professionals are certainly #busybusyverybusy indeed… and not a birthday cake in sight!
But of course, the wider question is – why should senior leaders invest in internal comms in the first place?
The IC folks had a lot to say on this too - here are their responses:
What value do you think IC brings to an organisation?
"What internal comms certainly isn't about - is Sending Out Stuff!"
"To get a feel for just how important internal comms is, I think it's good to reverse the question and ask - what if IC wasn't there? How would people know what was going on? Osmosis? Gossip at the water cooler? Rumour? How would they understand what was being said? And how would they know what they were doing actually counted towards something?"
"Internal comms is a primary driver of organisational innovation and adaptation to change"
"Change can be more effectively and easily implemented in organisations with the help of consistent compelling and inspirational internal comms"
This is only a small selection of the internal comms professionals out there connecting and inspiring people and organisations the world over.
And we think it’s safe to say – that the role of internal communications is much more eclectic, interesting, and valuable than Cosmopolitan gave it credit for.
It’s not just people wearing hands-free headsets with the impeccable appearance of a LinkedIn profile photo. It’s people doing truly inspiring things, often with frugal budgets.
So don't you think it's time that they - and the industry as a whole - got the involvement and recognition they deserve, in every organisation across the globe?