Internal communications thought leader, Chuck Gose Shares His Wisdom — from Internal Communications Trends to Podcast Tips

February 8, 2017by Gregg ApirianInternal Communications

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In this guest interview with internal communication thought leader, Chuck Gose, host of the ICology podcast, we cover everything from trends in IC (internal communications) to the biggest themes and challenges facing IC pros today. We love the ICologoy podcast for it’s candid conversations and interviews with progressive IC industry leaders.

It’s been great to see new industry resources popping up for Communications, HR and Employee Experience community — from new podcasts to the IC Kollectif (All your relevant internal communication sources – from around the world — under one roof). As we strive to help you innovate we’ll continue to bring you great and interesting IC resources from around the world.

Gregg Apirian (GA): What is ICology?
Chuck Gose (CG): ICology is my effort to bring new voices and ideas into the internal communications discussion. And it’s pronounced Eye-cology. A lot of people think of it as I-C-ology. And I understand it. But I correct them.

GA: What inspired you to start the podcast?
CG: I began listening to more podcasts as I traveled. And as I learned about more of them, I discovered there weren’t any that consistently and directly focused on internal communication. There seemed to be a gap, and I decided to fill it.

GA: Why the podcast format over video?
CG: I like the mobility of listening to a podcast over watching a video. And frankly, most people are more comfortable just having their voice recorded than being on video. I think this would make it easier to get communicators and industry experts involved.

GA: Any tips on starting a new podcast?
CG: Yes. Don’t overthink it. I read so much advice about starting a podcast, and it was scary. “Spend money on this mic. Spend money on this mixer. Spend money here. Spend money there.” I didn’t want to spend money. I wanted to start a podcast. And it turns out; you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it. Some of my episodes have been recorded using the voice recorder app on my phone when I’m at events. Keep it simple to start.

But if you are going to overthink one area, properly evaluate your hosting options. There are pros and cons with some providers. I’m not saying I regret who I host with, but I should have looked into it more.

GA: Who would you love to have on the podcast that you haven’t had yet?
CG: I think it would be cool to have either T.I. or John Cusack on my podcast. Not that they know anything about internal communications, but I think we’d have a great chat. I’ve not so secretly thought I’d be great friends with them one day.

GA: For 2017 can we expect the same format for ICology interviews or do you have new styles and formats you plan to experiment with ICology?
CG: I’m definitely sticking with the interviews, but I’ve also added a new weekly episode called “Heads Up.” In this one, it’s just me reviewing things that I’ve read or seen that I think would help communicators. It’s not a separate podcast, just a different format.

GA: Any other industry podcasts you follow and would recommend?
CG: I’ll break this down into a few areas. For those interested in communications, you can’t go wrong listening to Shel Holtz. If you’d like to hear other communicators hosting their own, listen to Life at AT&T with Doug Magditch. But in a larger sense, there are so many great storytellers out there creating podcasts. And they are free. So find a topic that interests you and explore.

GA: Any recurring themes about internal communication you’ve noticed from ICology guests?
CG: Without a doubt, it’s channels. Communicators rely on them. Email. Intranets. Digital signage. Mobile apps. They need them. But it’s how you use them. I wish creativity was a recurring theme. You simply can’t put a price on its value.

GA: What are the biggest challenges facing internal communications leaders today?
CG: I think the biggest is still credibility for many in IC. Because for so long, many communicators were told to “make it pretty,” and those corporate leaders are still in place in many locations. So it’s up to communicators to step up beyond their role and build their business knowledge. The saying “there’s no such thing as a dumb question” is wrong. There are dumb questions. Make sure you aren’t asking them.

GA: Any interview tips for internal communications pros who may want to start a podcast of their own?
CG: There’s a fine line between preparing and over preparing, for both the host and the guest. I would say that I’ve done a better job of preparing questions for guests but also caution them of not worry too much about scripting their answers. There’s nothing wrong with having bullet points as thought starters but don’t read. And when you’re preparing questions, it’s always good to have a general flow that you make your own.

GA: What have you learned from interviewing internal communications thought leaders and industry professionals?
CG: I’ve learned there are a lot of really intelligent communicators out there who don’t realize how great their work really is. So often I’ve reached out to a guest about something I read or heard them say and they’re surprised I want to interview them. They just assume that everybody else is doing what they are doing. And they aren’t.

GA: What internal communications trends do you see for 2017 from your interviews?
CG: I’m not a trendy person, both in my personal style and when it comes to business. I like to focus on what makes sense. But if I had to pick three, I’d go with trust, branding, and mobile. These are also great areas for communicators to focus on and research asap.

GA: Where would you like to see the internal communications industry go?
CG: I would love to see a company scrap the old way of doing engagement surveys and begin looking at trust. Do your employees trust their manager? The CEO? And do managers and the CEO trust employees. This could be painful data to uncover, but it would also be telling. Simply put, trust is a two-way street. Instead of hiding behind an employee engagement number, find out if your employees trust each other and leadership. That will lead to true engagement.

GA: In your opinion what makes a great internal communicator?
CG: I like to see communicators who give a damn. They care about employees. They care about the company and the brand. And they care about their own careers. And all of this points to a high emotional intelligence. That makes a great communicator. Where I see the source of a lot of this is the struggling newspaper industry. So many new internal communicators were former journalists. And I think this is a great thing.

GA: What skills do you think internal communicators need today to be relevant and progressive in the industry?
CG: Being able to tell a story is perhaps the greatest skill they can have. And beyond that, tell it in the medium it needs. Perhaps text is better. Or video. Or an infographic. Or audio. It’s not one size fits all. Those communicators who can tell a story in the right way and the right format will be the next communication leaders.

GA: How do you think internal comms impacts company culture?
CG: Very little. And here’s why. I think internal communications is more reflective OF culture than impacting culture.

Rapid Fire

GA: What is your favorite app or tool that you use every day?
CG: It’s easily my iPhone. It’s hard to imagine functioning as a communicator and a business without it.

GA: What keeps you inspired/motivated?
CG: This is an area that I struggle with. And if others were honest about it, I think they would too. But what inspires me are ideas. There are certain groups out there that say ideas aren’t worth anything until they’re put into action. I completely disagree. New ideas can feed on old ideas. And the other thing that inspires me is participation. I’m not talking about trophies or certificates. Showing up and voicing your thoughts, ideas and opinions inspire me.

GA: Favorite childhood obsession?
CG: G.I. Joe. Hands down. Knowing is indeed half the battle. The best gift I’ve ever received was the USS Flagg in 1985 for my 3rd birthday. It was the only time in my life that I felt the envy of others. And my parents were so proud to get it for me. It cost $109.99. . . in 1985 dollars!

GA: Favorite topic to speak publically about?
CG: I love science, so I’ve created presentations about The Periodic Table of IC and the Physics of Employee Engagement. But I also take a lot of pride in chairing events and leading panels. So often those positions are taken for granted, but I put a lot of effort into them.

GA: Favorite podcast?
CG: I love Freakonomics. It’s so smart and casual. And I’ve tried to emulate the casual nature and intelligence of their podcast. I love that they talk about “the hidden side of everything.” One episode they might be talking to a neuropsychologist and the next an airline pilot. It’s the variety and quality that I enjoy.

About Chuck Gose

Chuck Gose is the founder and host of ICology and Vice President, Business Development & Partnerships at StaffConnect. He also got to fly in a blimp once. Find Chuck on Twitter @chuckgose and @learnicology, and on LinkedIn.

Be sure to check out ICology, a podcast dedicated to interesting people doing interesting things in the world of internal communication. It is a resource for corporate communicators looking for the latest advice and information on internal communication.

Gregg Apirian

As the Managing Director of Vignette, Gregg is responsible for agency-wide vision and strategy, operations and finance, business development and engagement management. With nearly 20 years in entrepreneurial and executive-level roles, Gregg has been an instrumental leader at many distinguished agencies. Prior to Vignette Gregg was EVP, Digital Marketing at Trailer Park, EVP at Schematic (now POSSIBLE), and began his agency career as co-founder and CEO of BLITZ. Over the years Gregg’s leadership and combined experience drove growth, profitability and delivery of innovative and effective solutions for brands like GE, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Target, Verizon, OWN, Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Johnson & Johnson, HSN, Ann Taylor & LOFT, Nike, and Reebok.