IC is not pink or fluffy

We regularly hear from our committee members here. They all work in internal communication in different industries and come from different backgrounds. This week Diane Walsh, Internal Communication Manager at Swinton Insurance shares her thoughts on internal communicators being trusted advisors and no longer the pink and fluffy addition to make any corporate plan look attractive.

Diane Walsh

Diane Walsh

Over to Diane:

It’s the main topic of conversation at any networking event…what are the biggest challenges for internal communicators?
Gone are the days where the main issue was the CEO thinking internal communications was just ‘pink and fluffy’. We now have a whole host of new challenges nipping at our heels.

Your CEO is bought in, your managers see the need and the employees feel the benefit of an effective communications strategy but how do you go from being just an effective support function to a truly trusted advisor?

It won’t happen overnight. It will take time for people to not only see the benefit that you’re  not just an expert in your field but that you can contribute to key business and strategic decisions.

small pink and fluffy Di W

Internal communication is not pink and fluffy

Know your business – know your audience

Ask questions; listen to your stakeholders and your audience. Familiarise yourself with the strategy. You need to understand the goal to be able to explain it to your audience. You need to be able to talk business at the right level and translate that to your audience.


Seat at the table

To become a trusted advisor, you need to have a voice. You need a seat at the top table. You need to have a business mind and understand how your senior leaders think and make decisions. By understanding this, you can tailor your influencing skills accordingly.


Challenge respectfully

Be confident. You might think that by challenging senior leaders this would put you in a difficult position or one of conflict, but if you handle it in the right way, this will in fact give people confidence in your opinion. Always ask what the purpose of a communication is and whether it covers the ‘why’. The CEO and senior leaders are the decision makers but they need all the right information to make the right, informed choice.

First port of call

Being a trusted advisor means being the go-to guy. You need to be the first person that your CEO thinks of when they need some advice. As soon as they start doing this, you know you’ve cracked it and have become their trusted advisor. If you’re still at the stage where you’re going to them, be proactive…arrange meetings and 1-2-1 sessions with the key people to ensure you’re ahead of the game. Don’t just wait for it to land at your door where you’re then running around and being reactive.


And the benefits of this?

You aren’t the last to know…you are the first and you have influence over the decision-making process to get the right outcome.

People can clearly see how your role has an impact on the overall business performance and do not only come to you for guidance and support, they use your expertise to make the right choices.

You’re at the centre of your business and work across all functions, business areas and levels to really add value to your business.


Thanks to Diane for sharing her thoughts on this topic. Many internal comms teams find themselves caught in a cycle of ‘delivering and doing’ whilst trying to become trusted advisors and gain more control over the internal comms strategy, and this is great advice.

CIPR Inside is a keen advocate of helping internal communicators develop their skills. Watch this space for details of our next webinar coming in September which will cover ethics in internal communication.

Meanwhile get your ticket to hear from a range of award-winning comms pros at our conference on 13 October. Early bird tickets save you up to £100 and are on sale until midnight on 11 September. So it’s best to book early. Read more about the conference here.

Image Credit: Splashbase.co CCO Jeffrey Betts

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