There is tendency for stakeholders to see the need for creativity in internal communications through the lens of content development. However, the broad remit of the internal communicator demands diversity in creative approaches far beyond this single area of responsibility.
Did you take the ‘My Creative Type’ test which was doing the rounds on social media last week and discover what type of creative you are?
I’ve never regarded myself as being a particularly creative person. My younger brother got the artistic genes in our family and went on to study interior design. His house decor has subsequently had more reinventions than Madonna.
Despite my reservations, I took the test anyway and discovered that I am a ‘Maker’ and ‘committed to my craft’. I suppose I was initially disappointed with this rather dull sounding result and I tweeted that I wanted a second opinion. Some of the other creative types, such as the ‘Visionary’, ‘Innovator’, Adventurer and ‘Thinker’ sounded much more exciting, glamorous and more akin to how I actually see myself.
Since taking the test I’ve reflected on what being creative really means in the context of the role of the internal communicator. I’m a habitual reader of job adverts for internal communication roles. Not because I’m looking for a job, but because it’s a constant source of fascination and amusement for me how many different ways the role of an internal communicator can be described and hybridised with other disciplines by recruiters. There is still a long way to go until there is true understanding of, and consistency in, the description of our functions distinctiveness in role definitions.
One of the things I’ve seen appearing in more and more internal communication job descriptions is the requirement to be ‘creative’ in the context of content development. We live in a content driven world, so I suppose it’s no surprise to see this creeping in given that content is such a tangible and visible output. However, I also find it unsettling that creativity in content development should be regarded by recruiters and employers as one of the emergent and most significant defining characteristics of the role of internal communicators, given that our remit is so much broader in organisations. Aren’t there other contexts in which internal communicators also need to be creative, and aren’t these equally or more important than content creation?
There seems to be a mistaken assumption amongst some of our stakeholders that because you are an internal communicator you are automatically an expert in graphic design, filming and editing video and animation. If you want an engaging infographic designing, I’m sorry, I’m not your man. However, I do know lots of other more relevant professionals I can brief to do that for you, on the proviso that you have a clear objective in mind.
In my time I’ve briefed and collaborated with some amazing and talented designers, filmmakers, animators and web developers who are professionals in their own right. However, they are not internal communicators and have no interest in becoming one. They are working in separate but related disciplines and recruiters need to wise up to this and really think about what they are looking for before writing a job description for a professional internal communicator.
If anything, taking the creative type test made me realise that I am creative but in ways which are not related to the purely aesthetic, visual or attractive. As a ‘Maker’ I’m best suited to taking my ideas and [quote from My Creative] “giving them form through the development of systems, structures, tools, and innovations that others rely on.” I am a creative problem solver and have the stamina and persistence to see that through to the ultimate resolution.
On reflection, this is a spot on definition of me and I had no reason to be disappointed with the outcome of the test. As an example of me as a true ‘Maker’ in the context of internal communication, I’m currently using insights to design and implement an internal communications channel strategy and the supporting governance for an organisation that I’m working with. My work will ‘create’ communications order out of communications chaos. It’s messy and detailed work full of contradictions, conflicting opinions, priorities and a mass of audit data to sift through and make sense of. Other creative types would hate it, but for me it’s what I do as an internal communicator and I relish challenges such as this.
Over the last few days my Twitter notification feed has been full of my internal communication friends, associates and connections sharing their creative type after taking the test. It seems that there is a plethora of Visionaries working in internal communications, with a fair sprinkling of Innovators and Adventurers, but not many Makers like me. I’m feeling somewhat unique, but we should all sensibly only regard these types as our primary creative characteristic.
The role of the internal communicator is broad. We are often curator, coach, author, mentor, advisor, influencer, diplomat, conscientious objector, coordinator, connector, planner, analyst and implementer all in the same day. This diversity in our role demands diversity in our creative approach and we all probably have, and regularly switch between, the traits found in the other creative types such as Innovator, Thinker, Visionary and Adventurer to enable us to fulfil this.
Creativity in internal communications is important, but it is not all about content.
Find out more about my primary creative type and the others on the My Creative Type website and maybe take the test yourself.