One of our favorite things about working in the internal communication space is getting to spend time with and learn from smart people around the world.
So when we heard that Priya Bates was in Vancouver (one of our office locations) for a couple of hours, we couldn't resist putting her in the hot seat and asking her our team's burning questions.
Always a great sport, Priya served up a healthy dose of inspiration that's sure to give you some ideas for your own work. We covered everything from what organizations forget to measure, to what she's learned from raising two daughters, to why she thinks you should stop calling yourself a communicator.
The Personal Stuff
1. What have you learned from raising two daughters?
"Focus on strengths. I remember being at an IABC conference and hearing a great speaker named Marcus Buckingham talk about focusing on your strengths, and especially when you're raising girls today, I really want to make sure I'm raising powerful women who have confidence."
2. What's your guilty pleasure?
"I love really amazing food experiences. It doesn't matter if we're on the top of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, having a great meal, or Café du Monde in New Orleans–I love the history and stories that food tells."
3. Beach vacation or city vacation?
"Definitely both! Beach when I want to get away and disconnect, and city when I want to connect with my best friends around the world."
The Career Stuff
4. What's the hardest thing about being a consultant?
"The hardest thing about becoming a consultant is selling you. When you have a big position with a big office and a big corporation behind your name, that's part of your personality and your brand. When you're on your own, it's just you, and you have to figure out what your purpose and value is to the clients you're going to work with."
5. What's the best thing about being a consultant?
"I always dreamed about being a consultant from the time I started my career, and the fact that I've been able to do it and do it successfully has really been the best thing."
6. Why did you get your SCMP?
"I like letters... I'm joking! I do have a lot of letters behind my name, [Editor's note: She's not exaggerating–just check out the title of this post!] but it's really about continuous improvement, learning every single day, and—most importantly from an SCMP perspective—I love the fact that we're trying to drive a global standard for communication professionals."
7. What are you most proud of in your career?
"I'm really proud in my career of making an impact for the organizations I've worked with and worked for. It's really important that what we do as communication professionals is really focus on results and see that endgame that impacts the organization."
The Internal Comms Stuff
8. What happens when organizations don't invest in internal comms?
"When organizations don't invest in Internal Communication, the truth is everyone makes up their own story. And I always say to organizations and leaders–their stories are 10 times worse than the truth."
9. What do most people get wrong about internal newsletters?
"Most people create newsletters and emails and send them to everyone. We need to target information and make sure we get the right information to the right people at the right time."
10. You have six months to demonstrate the value of great Internal Comms. What do you focus on?
"For six months, we have to first start by figuring out where we are, doing our audits and measurement to understand our foundation–where we are today–and then focus on where we're going. Setting that goal right up front that you're going to deliver six months from now."
11. What's the difference between a communicator and a communication professional?
"Communication professionals have expertise–they meet a global standard. The truth is everyone is a communicator."
12. What is one step that internal comms pros can take to be more strategic?
"Internal communication professionals need to ask questions. We need to stop just taking orders and going away and delivering them; otherwise, we will never be invited to sit at the decision-making table."
13. What is one skill internal comms pros should borrow from other areas of work?
"When we talk to Operations or Marketing, they're always measuring their impact on the business. Internal communication pros have to connect what they do to business results."
14. How can you encourage leadership to make internal comms a priority?
"We need to connect communication to results. As soon as leaders understand that communication is a gap–between understanding and awareness, response and belief–and that it can help reduce resistance, leaders will come online."
15. What is one thing that organizations forget to measure?
"I think the one thing that organizations forget to measure is pride. I think it's really important to measure performance and participation and what employees say–but how they feel, at the end of the day, makes the biggest difference of all."
The Bonus Round
Who would win The Hunger Games, IABC Fellows Edition?
"Oh, that's a really good question... It wouldn't be me, haha!
I had to think about this one. I choose Shel Holtz, SCMP, IABC Fellow. He's always been the guy who's thought 20 years ahead. He's so strategic; he's influenced my career and how I think about everything from technology to how I do what I do every day.
So I would definitely pick Shel because he's a great connector, thinker, and strategist."