Our writer Linda Harrison reflects on her first 12 months at RED:

This month I found myself in a client meeting where plans for an ‘intranet sprint’ were discussed.

I’d never heard of an internet sprint before the meeting (I was slightly disappointing to discover that no trainers were involved).

But it struck me afterwards that it was part of a whole new terminology that I’d become immersed in over the past 12 months since starting at RED Publications. And it’s been a whirlwind year.

Before RED I was a freelance journalist writing for national newspapers and magazines. Plenty of transferrable skills – I’m still a writer – but I was totally new to the world of internal comms; pitching to the features desk of The Guardian is quite a different ball game to writing for clients’ employee magazines and intranets.

So here are a few things I’ve leant in my first year at RED:

  • Writing crisp, clear copy is as vital for an employee magazine feature as for a national newspaper. But if you’re not weaving in your client’s key messages, there’s no point; you’ll never add value. Aligning stories to an organisation’s strategy is key.
  • There’s a skill to including your client’s key messages in a story without losing the, er, story. Reading a feature packed with blatant key messages in every sentence can feel like being hit over the head with a sledgehammer. Repeatedly. It doesn’t work – and employees switch off. You need balance.
  • The client is king, or queen. Deliver what they want, better than they wanted it, on deadline. Or you might as well give up now.
  • Getting to know a client’s business inside out is fun. Stand out experience from my first year? Donning a hard hat and taking a tour of a power station producing renewable energy. How can you write accurately about the process of generating electricity if you’ve never heard the turbines roar or felt the heat from the boilers? You need to get out of the office and immerse yourself in their organisation. And that’s what we do at RED.
  • IC is a fast changing industry. The days of rolling out an employee survey once a year seem to be numbered. Digital is transforming the employee engagement landscape. It’s a fascinating time to join the industry.
  • IC people know how to party. I was lucky enough to attend this year’s IoIC North and Central Awards in York (RED was one of the organisers), so I’ve got first hand experience.
  • When it’s done well, internal comms is an incredibly powerful and valuable tool. Helping employees to see the bigger picture leads to happier people – and that positive change in the workplace means improved performance for the business. A client telling you how something you’ve written has helped their organisation gives you a nice warm glow.
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