Communications is at the heart of every part of an organisation. It can influence, impact and make or break reputations. Comms really is more than just the comms team, as this new guest post highlights.

by Sally Northeast

On my dog walk this morning I had a sudden realisation that my career path had taken some significant turns at 10-year intervals (and when I had a 9 at the end of my age!).

At 29 I moved from being a reporter on a weekly newspaper to a daily.

At 39 I switched from my post-child-bearing freelance stint to an in-house comms manager role at a county council.

And at 49 I moved from the council to my current deputy director role in the NHS, broadening my portfolio to include organisational development and participation as well as comms.

I’m not claiming there’s any method to this – it’s a matter of chance and opportunity. And indeed arguably the most significant move – from journalism to comms – didn’t fit this pattern.

But it got me thinking about careers and how they unfold – whether they follow a tightly-planned trajectory or are more of a ‘squiggly’ career (see Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper’s TEDx talk for more on this – fascinating.)

I’m thinking a lot about workforce at the moment. My wider remit means I get to be involved in the fascinating world of staff engagement and experience, as well as recruitment and retention.

My trust is investing in this area because we know how important it is. Last year we recruited to a new recruitment marketing and comms role which sits in my comms team and has a very specific focus on attracting the best candidates to work for us.

Last week I recruited a retention lead sitting in my OD team. They will focus on understanding what are the things that our staff need to encourage them to stay with us. If they’re thinking about leaving, why is that and what can we do about it?

What’s all this got to do with comms, you ask? This is, after all, the comms2point0 blog is it not?

Well, the thing about comms is that it can influence literally everything in an organisation. It amplifies and helps embeds our culture, vision, values and behaviours. It tells our story both internally and externally. It helps our leaders to be visible and to connect with our people and our communities. It sells our brand.

Others – notably fellow unplugger Jill Spurr – have written about poor experiences in the recruitment process. That’s comms too isn’t it – because that’s the first step in the connection a candidate has with an organisation. If it’s a bad one, they’re not going to think well of you and that’s not a position any organisation can afford to find itself in.

Why? Because it’s a seller’s market. Comms Dad Darren Caveney, creator of this website, will tell you there are lots of comms jobs out there at the moment. In fact, there’s a lot of movement in the job market as a whole it would seem.

After two years of pandemic impact, many people are re-evaluating what they want. They’re thinking about work-life balance. They’ve been more flexible than ever and they probably want that to continue in the main. And organisations that don’t offer what people want and that don’t live up to their stated values and behaviours, will be left behind. Just read Bruce Daisley’s regular newsletter on workplace culture – he had us enthralled as our keynote speaker at Comms Unplugged 2021. This stuff is important.

So to tie it all up – a few friends and colleagues have made big career moves recently. Some leaving an organisation after many years’ service. Some leaving comms altogether. Some considering the freelance world – hopefully a chance to get away from the brutal and relentless demands of a comms career in the public sector during a pandemic.

Whatever your situation and priorities, whether your career path is straight or squiggly, just know that the skills you bring as a comms person are critical both to your own work life and to that of your wider organisation.

You join up the dots and make connections. You inspire and enthuse. You explain and simplify. You engage and motivate. You help create the environment in which you and others can either thrive or crumble.

We don’t want to lose good people from the comms profession, but if my career path is anything to go by a comms person has many possible avenues. What we do makes a difference and if recent events have taught us anything it’s that comms is the beating heart of an organisation and can help it succeed or fail.

Sally Northeast is deputy director of OD, participation and communications in the NHS and is co-creator of Comms Unplugged. You can say hello on Twitter at @Salzasal

*Sign up for the comms2point0 eMag*

The comms2point0 eMag features exclusive new content, free give-aways, special offers, first dibs on new events and much, much more.

Sound good? Join over 3k other comms people who have subscribed. You can sign up to it right here.

Image credit

Original source – comms2point0

Comments closed