Who's who in IC?

Welcome to our regular profile about who's who in internal comms.

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Name

Priya Bates

Company

Inner Strength Communication Inc.

Job Title

President

Time with company

5 years

Connect with Priya

Take five

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

An architect. I liked to draw and thought I could take my creative energy to build things.

If you could have one wish, what would it be?

I'm a mom. I just want my kids to live a life of purpose and passion. Maybe that's what I want for everyone?

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Listen. We think as communicators, we need to be the ones talking all the time, but our most successful projects come from listening to leaders and their people. I try to ask questions and really be present when hearing answers not only with my ears, but watching body language and trying to understand intent.

If you could choose a mentor, who would it be?

Oprah!

What's the secret to a good life?

Not worrying about what others think.

Tell us a bit about your role:

I'm president of Inner Strength Communication Inc. based in Toronto, Canada. We help organisations enable, engage and empower their employees to manage change and deliver business results. I also have a personal purpose to position internal communication as an integral enabler of organisational success. In this capacity, our company provides consulting services but also is helping organisations build their internal communication bench strength.

What’s on your internal comms agenda right now?

A few things. We're helping solve business problems with communication solutions. Executives and leaders are contacting us asking how they can get employees to embrace change; how they can bring a customer experience strategy to life through people in a way that impacts delivery; how they can connect with virtual and mobile non-desk work forces; how to create consistency across the country or around the world. We know we can help and provide solutions that take their issue and their culture into consideration.

What has had the biggest impact on internal comms in your organisation in the past year?

With client projects, there are two areas that have had impact.

1. Conducting a communication audit. It's amazing what we learn from leaders about their plans, strategies and frustrations and what we subsequently learn from front-line managers and employees and their frustration with not being informed and lack of understanding about the 'why' behind initiatives. There are a lot of vague messages but little clarity. We have fun providing solutions (some short-term and a few long-term investments) that will help connect the dots.

2. Democratisation of content. Internal communication professionals who rely on their tactics are struggling with giving up control, but new tools, internal social media, and the integral role of line managers, mean that we need to step away from "communicating on behalf of our organisations" versus "influencing how our organisation - its leaders and people - communicate." It's a mind-shift that is still getting resistance but so necessary to turn on the power of communication in our organisations.

What’s your proudest achievement or best day in your current role?

I launched my inaugural Strategic Internal Communication Conference this year and it was a tremendous success. The feedback told us there is a real need for this content in Canada. It also told us that many of those in internal communication have landed in the role from PR, HR or journalism. I've really discovered a passion for helping communication professionals embrace the changes that are coming and learn about what is possible when we get internal communication right.

How would you advise someone considering a career in internal comms?

Internal communication has the reputation of poor cousin to public relations and marketing and it may be just that when junior people get hired to write newsletters and deliver tactics.

The truth is that strategic internal communication done right has the power to impact people to deliver the promises that the organisation makes on the outside. It has the power to impact the customer experience and bottom-line business results. It connects the dots between strategy and employee delivery. I think it's the most important role in an organisation and when we get this right, it's magic.

What do you think the top three trends in internal communication will be in the next year?

• Increased value and recognition of internal communication as an enabler of success.

• Democratisation of content. Technology is giving non-communication professionals tools to target and communicate directly to one another.

• Need for more training in the internal communication space - especially to professionals who have landed in the role from other areas of the business.

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