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Sarah Browning

Name

Sarah Browning

Company

Browning York Ltd

Job Title

Freelance Internal Communications Specialist

Time with company

8 years

Take five

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Stresa on Lake Maggiore in Italy – we have had some amazing family holidays there, it’s beautiful and has a relaxed vibe.

If you could be a fictional character, what would it be?

The female Doctor Who – my 11-year-old daughter and I both think she’s awesome!

Who would play you in a movie?

If Jodie Whittaker did it, then I would (sort of) be the Doctor, wouldn’t I?

If you could have any super power what would you choose?

I would love to wave a magic wand and make everyone be kind to each other. Cruelty of any sort always upsets me.

What's the one thing not many people know about you?

I won a national dance competition when I was 7. My friend and I did a Charleston duet – being the tallest, I had to dance the man’s part, complete with fake moustache, bowler hat and sequinned tail coat. I still like a boogie now, although that is less of a secret!

Tell us a bit about your role:

I work with charities, universities and other not-for-profits to solve business problems by improving their communication. I help them to identify what they are trying to achieve and to look at the ways in which effective communication will contribute to them doing that.

What’s on your internal comms agenda right now?

Encouraging more strategic approaches! I’m working with two national charities right now; putting together an internal comms strategy that supports the new corporate strategy for one of them and supporting the other to articulate the case for investment in internal comms. It’s a real privilege to help both teams improve the way IC works in their organisations. With small writing and training jobs fitting around those bigger projects, I’m certainly a busy bee.

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

With all my clients, taking a step back to consider a more strategic, planned approach to communication has made a huge difference. In times of change and uncertainty it is really tempting to get stuck in straight away, to just do something. But this rarely works well in terms of informing or engaging audiences.

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

I’m proud of all the times that my clients have told me my work has made a positive difference to their organisation. I may only be with them for a relatively short time, but I genuinely care about them all. I want them to use effective internal communication to make a difference to their staff, volunteers and, ultimately, also to the people they are there to serve.

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

Learn about how organisations work, not just about how communication works. If you don’t understand what matters to the leaders in your organisation, you’re unlikely to be taken seriously; you need to be able to relate what you do to what they care about.

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

1) I think this year we might finally get a better handle on the perennial challenge of measurement. We need to look at measures that are meaningful to our organisations, not just at numbers that don’t really tell us about understanding and engagement.

2) As more and more people are able to create their own content, the internal communicator’s role is about coaching and supporting them to do it well. We have a much more interesting (in my view) role to enable others rather than doing it for them. This will continue to build this year.

3) Face-to-face communication is something I see being more valued again. Somehow we all know that we need real people talking to us in real life, not just online interaction. I don’t think it’s an either/or situation, we need a comms mix, but in person methods will become more popular again I think.

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