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June 29, 2011

Guest Blogger Alex Mitchell Offers a Fresh Perspective on Internal Communications

Alex Mitchell photoI’m sharing a different kind of guest blog post this week.  Alex Mitchell, who blogs at Wordsmith, and I first crossed paths in the blogosphere. Since then, we’ve met and I’ve learned a lot about him—most interestingly that he is looking to transition into internal communications after working for more than a decade in the newspaper and book publishing industries.  (He has nine years of experience as a Reporter and Copy Editor for Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, and since 2009, he has worked as an Acquisitions Editor for a nonfiction book publisher. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the International Association of Business Communicators’ Chicago chapter. He holds a B.A. in Communications (Journalism) from Marquette University.)  

As a regular reader of this blog, Alex also responded to my invitation to guest blog here at the leadercommunicator, and he sent me the post that follows.  I assure you that I didn’t ask (or require him!) to say nice things about my new book (though I am touched and honored that he did).  His perspective is that of someone who is new to internal communications, but I think his post offers a fresh reminder of the value of internal communication to those of us who work in it every day and may sometimes forget to take a step back and appreciate the big picture.

(If you’re interested in hiring Alex, you can reach him at  I would hire him myself, but we don’t currently have any openings!)

As an outsider, I view internal communications as a fascinating combination of art, sociology and science.

Art, in that it involves writing and editing. Sociology, in that it examines human interaction and collective behavior. And science, in that it relies on systematic, measurable processes to reach conclusions and make improvements.

With the collapse of the newspaper industry and the increasingly uncertain outlook in book publishing, several months ago, I found myself at a crossroads. Given my skills and background, corporate communications seemed like a logical industry for me to explore.

I read everything on the subject I could get my hands on, interviewed dozens of industry veterans to learn about their specialties, and of all the disciplines, I undeniably felt myself drawn to internal communications.

In the foreword to David Grossman’s most recent book – You Can’t NOT Communicate 2 – Olivier Poirot, CEO of Accor North America and Motel 6 / Studio 6, writes:

“Communication is key. There can be no sustained successes and results without effective communication. We all know this to be true.”

Of course, this statement applies to any human endeavor: a marriage, a white water rafting expedition, and most certainly, a business with hundreds or thousands of employees.

It’s this process of getting the most out of a workforce through communication that I find interesting; the fact that there is a connection between inspired, motivated and engaged employees and positive business results.

As David and others have put it: driving success from the inside out.

If you work in internal communications, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But sometimes it’s good to get an outsider’s perspective on your profession. You might get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of a job, forgetting just how cool and important your gig really is. Any job where you can – in essence – be an artist, a sociologist and a scientist all in the same day sounds pretty good to me.

I look forward to joining you.

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