Professional Development in Internal Communication

Not so long ago I completed an online survey at the invitation of Internal Communications (IC) recruiters extraordinaire VMA Group. Designed to gather independent information on salary benchmarks, skills requirements and key career development trends within the UK IC industry, the survey was completed by 250 senior IC practitioners. 

This evening I popped along to RIBA to see the survey results presented back to a posse of grim faced IC ninjas eager to find out how the industry has fared since the last survey in 2008. So what if anything has changed? 

Salaries have remained pretty static, with modest uplift at all levels broadly in line with inflation. Given the economic backdrop over the last 2 years I’d say this is a good sign for the industry.

 One of the most interesting changes was around reporting lines. Since 2008 the three notable changes are:

  • The number of Heads of IC reporting directly to the CEO has doubled, from 4% to 8%
  • A 10% increase in Heads of IC reporting to the Head of Marketing
  • A significant reduction (11%) in the amount of Heads of IC reporting to Corporate Communications

 Team size was interesting, in particular the fact that 25% of IC teams comprise just one person operating alone. There was no figure for 2008 to compare this figure against. I’ll ask VMA tomorrow if they have this.

Another interesting finding was the difference between the top 5 skills deficits as perceived by IC practitioners versus those of their employers: 

IC practitioners Employers
Coaching senior leadership Strategy setting
Social media development Coaching senior leadership
Change management Influencing
Influencing Writing
Strategy Setting IC theory

Interesting to see that Social media development does not feature in the employers’ wish list. Personally I think that this is a reflection on the relatively slow recognition of the game changing nature of social media channels and actually IC practitioners are ahead of the curve here. I’d expect to see it higher up this list in the next survey.

To finish off this whistle stop tour of the survey findings, what do you make of this one? In 2008, 19% of respondents felt that their senior executive team were key IC advocates. In 2010 that figure rises to 30%.

Could this be an indication that employee engagement and the role IC plays in increasing it has become progressively more recognised by senior executive teams as an important and relatively low cost differentiator of corporate performance during harsh economic times?

I’d like to think so, but then I would wouldn’t I!

2 thoughts on “Professional Development in Internal Communication

  1. Interesting stuff–indeed, I like your reference to “IC as an important and relatively low cost differentiator”.

    Indeed, it links nicely to my beef that internal comms and “employee engagement” offer the promise of a kind of low cost differentiation that can be achieved by raising employee expectations beyond what organisations have committed to. Aside from the overall organisational implications of such an approach, one of the casualties tends to be the reputation of communication in the organisation.

  2. That’s where it all goes wrong – where IC is seen simply as a corporate mouthpiece and is used to broadcast over sanitised messages, some of which will no doubt over-promise if the organisation has not unequivocally committed to seeing them through. For me it comes back to the power of action. Stop telling people how funny you are and start telling jokes.

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