Half term. Half work. Half play.

Working for yourself brings a host of benefits, but for me one of the biggest is freedom.

Freedom to work around my client and family needs; freedom to direct the shape of my business; freedom to choose my own development path; freedom to be myself and do the work I love.

Most of the time, this works beautifully.

But Half term school holidays always seem to present a challenge.

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CPD – Why bother and my top tips for pain-free CPD

Excuse me while I crow, just a little. In the last week I have completed my CPD points already this year (this is not my usual form for getting my CPD done).

Nine months before the deadline at the end of Feb 2017. I have logged enough points on the CIPR UK CPD system to maintain my accredited status for another year. There we go, I’ve said it, no more boasting.

But who cares?

Well you may not, but I do.

And here’s why doing my CPD is important to me.

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Be human

I recently attended a Once Upon a Time event in Bournemouth. It’s always a good event, held in the beautiful Shelley theatre (once home to Mary Shelley) and organised by the indomitable duo of Mark Masters and Matt Desmier. Between them their contact list must be among the best and longest in the land of digital creatives, communicators (of all breeds) and entrepreneurs.

At this latest event we heard from four great speakers which I wrote about last week. One stood out for me for his enthusiasm and energy, and his authenticity and humanity. The person he was on stage, was the person I imagined he’d be before I heard him speak, and when I met him a week later for a coffee and to find out more, he was exactly the same.

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Once Upon A Time 6 – the story continues

Spurred on by own desire to share more about the work I do and the things I learn along the way, plus the fact that I was at an event recently which is all about sharing your great content with your network, I’ve taken some time out to write up my notes and a few tips from that event to share here.

Once Upon A Time’ is a regular event in Bournemouth, focussed on storytelling, hosted by Mark Masters from the ID group. It’s always a good event, great speakers and nice guests. What’s not to like? I went to the first event and this sixth one. They just keep coming with fantastic speakers and opportunities to meet good people.

Four speakers took turns to share their ‘stories’ about why they do what they do and how their businesses have come to be.

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What’s stopping leaders from saying it like it is?

There have been many organisations caught in the spotlight of the media glare after a crisis in recent years and as each of those stories hit the headlines it has made me think of the people working in those businesses. What must they be feeling?

What an organisation does in a time of crisis is a real insight into their approach to comms.  Are the communications timely, are the messages honest and leadership open, are the messages consistent over time and both internally and externally?

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Making an impact 2015 – a round up of the day

[att_social icon=”twitter” url=”https://twitter.com/ktmarlow” title=”Follow Me” target=”self” rel=””]It’s no secret that I work with CIPR Inside (the CIPR’s group for internal communication and employee engagement) and support the committee on a range of projects. Well the latest project was the annual internal communication conference. I was very involved in the event organisation, promotion and management on the day. It’s a highlight of our year, it always seems to come around too quickly, I always leave feeling tired but incredibly inspired (I’m very lucky to have a client that is a professional voice for the profession I work in and love!!!). So I’ve just written up the below post for CIPR Inside, but as it’s relevant and interesting for me and what I do in my day job, I’m sharing it here too. And that’s part of a fresh promise to myself to share more of what I do here.

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Futurecomms15: No need to re-write the book, just get on with it

Katie Marlow recently went to Futurecomms15 and as she works with CIPR Inside to help us communicate what we do, we asked her to share her thoughts on futurecomms. Over to Katie:

Thursday 18 June saw the second Futurecomms event, take place in London at the Crystal. It was a bright day. Glimmering in the summer sun, the Crystal overlooks the docks, with cable cars gliding overhead between the Emirates Royal Docks and Emirates Greenwich Peninsular.

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Some organisations are just like HOME, others feel truly alien.

It’s true, Some organisations are just like HOME, others feel truly alien. I’ve worked in a couple of odd ones to know that some places of work just make you feel out of place, zapped of your energy and enthusiasm, and plain unhappy. And that’s not good for the organisation or the people it depends upon to be successful. Happily I’ve worked in many more great organisations where people thrive and love what they do. I know where I’d rather be. As a communicator I find the way organisations operate, their cultures and internal communication fascinating. To the point that it’s something I find myself thinking about in the most unlikely places.

I was at the cinema with my children enjoying the film ‘Home’ during the holidays. If you’ve not had the pleasure, here’s a brief synopsis to help you understand the background to my alien thinking and it’s connection to organisations.

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A refreshing change

It’s refreshing to see that businesses are beginning to take a different approach to their strategic focus. On 19 March I joined 50 or so other interested folk and attended Once upon a time, an event which set out to share examples of storytelling in brands.

I aim to go to an event or workshop once a month. It feeds my inspiration and gives me a new perspective – it’s never wasted time. I really enjoyed this event and was disappointed I could only stay for the first two speakers:

What was the most refreshing thing for me was the honesty and truth from these two brands that absolutely live their values. They are both so different, yet share that passion of what they do. (more…)

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Silence is golden

I have been very quiet here for a while. I’ve been taking some golden time out to concentrate on my learning and professional development. There’s something I’ve been putting off for too long, and I really needed to crack on with it. So over the last six months I’ve been putting my efforts into my Internal Communication Diploma. It’s been a tough challenge, but one that I really wanted to succeed in. I found the whole process really  interesting and inspiring, I had so many new ideas as a result of the reading and interviews I undertook. I carried out a broad study into the links between how an organisation copes with and recovers from crisis and the strength of its internal communication function and levels of employee engagement. My thinking was based upon the idea that many organisations face crises that arise because of their own action or inaction. ‘Their own culture has left them predisposed to crisis’. (more…)

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Four years on
Sticking to my path

Four years on

Wow, not sure where they went, but the last few years have been a heady mix of my children growing older and starting school, and my new-found independence as a freelance comms professional. August is a special month for me, kids off school, birthdays, wedding anniversary and my business anniversary too. This year, it’s been four years since starting my freelance life and Little Bird Communication. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. (more…)

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What’s in a name?

A debate raged on twitter last month about whether internal communication should be called internal PR. Most of the replies were: No, No, No… Everyone hated the idea, were repulsed at the connection to PR, which most consider to be broadcast communication aimed at selling.

Read more about it here from Jenni Wheller, Committee chair for CIPR Inside.

It got me thinking too about how I label my business, what is PR, what is corporate communication, and what is communication. I wonder whether the industry will ever be able to shake its poor reputation. What a thing for the industry that is responsible for preserving and promoting the reputations of big business! Can it solve its own reputation crisis? Who will do the PR for the PRs?

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#thebigyak – my three things

On Saturday 28 June, I joined nearly 150 internal communicators and headed off to #thebigyak organised by The IC crowd, and facilitated by Benjamin Ellis.

Yes it was the weekend and yes we all went to this event because we love what we do. You could not find a more motivated bunch of communicators than those willing to take a whole day in a weekend and go off and talk shop.

The format of the day was an ‘unconference’ which puts the agenda in the (hairy) hands of the delegates. (more…)

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Brilliant People, Amazing Culture – All About People

On Thursday 5 and Friday 6 June a group of like-minded people gathered in a seafront hotel in Bournemouth for the All About People conference. I find the culture of organisations and the shift to people focussed business fascinating, so I joined the event and I’ll share some of the insights from the two days here. Andy Swann, the creator of the event first wanted to just bring a few people together to share ideas and have some fun, but it soon grew into the All About People event. In Andy’s words from his welcome: “I’m not going to tell you want to expect from #aapcon14, the opportunity is there to create your own experience. Informal yes, idealistic maybe, human certainly.” And that nicely sums up exactly what the event turned out to be. (more…)

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All about people, work and workplaces

I spent 5 and 6 June 2014 in the company of some really brilliant people in my home town of  Bournemouth. The All About People

What was the creative brief for this image?
What was the creative brief for this image?

Conference, organised by Andy Swann, Head of Ideas and Mistakes at My Amazing Team @AndySwann was really inspiring. There was so much great stuff covered, my head is still buzzing with ideas to take to my clients and beyond. It was great to see Bournemouth hosting an innovative and provocative event. As a local passionate about great communication, internal comms and the way we work it was a great opportunity. (more…)

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#ioiclive14 conference – part one

On Friday 2 May, 100 plus internal communication professionals gathered at #ioiclive14 in Brighton. I was really looking forward to the day. I love learning and taking the time to meet new people who who share a love of comms.

I was there with two hats, one my own, and one for CIPR Inside the specialist group for internal comms at the CIPR.

In the true sense of sharing and partnership across institutions, CIPR Inside’s chair, Jenni Wheller was one of the speakers on the day and was involved in the conference organisation. (more…)

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Absent friends

Wow it’s been a crazy few months. I’ve been working on some really exciting stuff, and just recently enjoyed a bit of quieter time to recharge my batteries. It’s that time which has allowed me to re-focus on what’s important to me. Afterall time’s precious, none of us has enough of it, and numerous clichés remind us of time trickling away before our eyes. (more…)

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Internal Communications Insight

Katie Marlow profile Oct 2013

Back in November, Denise Cox from Newsweaver invited me to answer a few questions about my insight on internal communication.

Here’s the article:

In an ongoing series, I invite internal communications experts to blog about their thoughts on the state of our industry, challenges we are facing – and what they think are essential in order to face the challenges. Today’s blog post contribution is from Katie Marlow. Katie’s consultancy Little Bird Communications, helps businesses and organisations tell their story. (more…)

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