[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.
On Tuesday 13 October, 170 internal communicators gathered for CIPR Inside’s annual internal communication conference, Making an impact 15.
It was a day packed with real case studies from professionals working in a variety of industries and delivering excellent internal communication.
As ever, there was a lot of tweeting on the day. We’ve created a storify so you can see some of the tweets here.
Steven Murgatroyd Vice Chair introduced the day with a very clear analogy to the behind the scenes heroes and internal communicators. Usain Bolt’s trainer, Glen Mills, Barack Obama’s speech writer, Jon Favreau and Margaret Hamilton, the coding brains behind Apollo 11’s landing on the moon. The role of the internal communicator is in the background helping everyone in the foreground communicate well.
First up after Steven’s introduction was Sarah Pinch, CIPR President. Her key points were about the importance of professionalism and CPD as a part of that commitment to ensuring we all uphold high standards. Sarah also pointed to the gender pay gap in the comms industry. It currently stands at £8,000… As an industry we need to do more to improve flexible working, to keep good people and help women return to work when they have families. Sarah started her presidency while on maternity leave, something both timely and a point of proof that it can and should be done.
Note to self – add this event to your CPD log and you’ll get 10 CPD points!!!
Next up was arguably our profession’s most prolific blogger and comms professional Rachel Miller. As such a successful blogger drawing thousands of views to her blog each week, Rachel delivered a very personal talk on what makes content great. Sharing Catsnake’s video for Friends of the Earth, ‘A love story in milk’ about recycling she made a very clear point that a story gets the message across with more impact than just the simple message alone such as recycle more… You can see the video here.
Rachel shared three golden rules for content:
Real – ditch the stock imagery and jargon
Accurate – single source of the truth. Curation, co-creation, and creation – all representing the truth
Whatever is right for your organisation – every workplace is different, make your content work for your people and your culture
To follow from Rachel’s lightning talk on content we heard from Tim Rutter at Tata Steel, winners of the hotly contested best magazine or newspaper category at last year’s #insidestory awards. Tim and his team at Tata Steel produce a fortnightly newspaper for their 5,000 largely shift-based employees. What makes this paper stand out is its breathtaking honesty and integrity – openly reporting and publicising CCTV images of an internal theft and even an incident of a leader from another organisation being clamped while parked in a hatched emergency access point on site.
It’s this honesty and down to earth style delivered with humility that’s earned its space as a trusted resource for employees, and while many organisations turn to digital channels this one proves the point that channels must fit the people and culture of your organisation. If we could take just one thing from Tim’s talk it is ‘don’t give up’. It has taken 6-7 years to get the newspaper embedded in the culture at Tata Steel but the results are impressive, with metrics like the number of lost time incidents and accidents dramatically reduced proving its value.
Next we heard from Saskia Jones from Oxfam who talked about engaging audiences with leadership. Oxfam’s staff survey showed that engagement with leadership was low. They needed to connect with employees and build trust. With a hard-to-reach global workforce in different time-zones speaking different languages a channel was needed to allow everyone to interact. The result was an online forum, a bit like Reddit’s Ask Me Anything, where employees could ask leaders a question and comment on other peoples’ posts. Leaders answered a range of questions, some very personal and off the wall, while other’s more grounded and sensible. The forum self regulated and Saskia rarely had to intervene. Saskias top tips were to:
- Try new things
- Don’t control conversations
- Make leaders part of the crowd
We all then took part in a workshop to discuss channels, anything from our own challenges or creating a channels matrix together as a small group on our tables. We’ll be following up on channels and measurment with more information, blogs and case studies.
Sarah Purdie from Clarks took to the stage next, and shared their story with us. Clarks, founded 190 years ago in Somerset, was keen to build a global brand. They used video as a complex story needed to be conveyed and it’s often good for sharing such stories and making an emotional connection. The video was made by the people for the people, with scripts, storyboards being done in house as well as the stars of the video all being Clarks people. The video was intially launched to the top 100 leaders, at staff conferences, on the intranet and in stores to set the scene for leaders to have the conversation about the Clarks’ ambition.
After a great lunch and lots of networking we returned to the conference room for a spot of humour brought to us by Stephanie Davis of Laughology. Stephanie lifted us all from the post lunch slump using a fun interactive session to show us that laughter engages us in a different way. She introduced us to the FLIP model – Focus, Language, Imagination and Pattern Breaking that can be used to change the way we look at a situation.
Ten points to take away:
1.Turn on your people before you turn on your computers
2.Focus on small goals
3.Collective ideas that include all and hear all
4.Encourage ‘what’s right’ thinking rather than ‘what’s wrong’ thinking
5.Make contact to congratulate
6.Awards of the week
7.What’s on your environmental check list
8.Notice and know everyone
9.Make it simple to get the job done (quick fixes)
10.Happiness is a culture not a one day workshop – it’s about behaviours
Next we heard from Jenni Field, Chair of CIPR Inside to update us on where CIPR Inside is focussing it’s efforts and what’s been achieved.
Following the IMPACT strategy the group launched at the AGM in March this year, Jenni told us what the group is working on:
Inspiring – working hard to share award winning work, increase entries to awards, increase membership and work on our content for the website
Measuring – providing measurement tools and methods for members to use
Professional development – helping members reach their 60point target and develop an IC syllabus for CIPR
Advising – sharing knowledge and expertise. Providing the Yammer space for a growing community and continuing our Ask the Guru programme of events.
Changing behaviours – case studies, blogs from the committee being shared via the website and on the day at the conference.
Trusting – being a part of the only Chartered body for communication and delivering valuable content such as the ethics webinar have helped us reinforce trust among our community.
You can see the original strategy here.
We then had a short panel discussion about what’s the best shape, size and location of an IC team? Chaired by James Harkness, with Sheila Parry, Rachel Miller and Jenni Field taking part in the discussion, which concluded that every organisation is different and that integrating communications is still a challenge.
Three key conclusions for any IC team are:
- It’s important to work closely with HR – not matter where you sit in organisational structures
- You need a route to the board
- You need to be close to the CEO
Next John Neilson, Director of Communications at Lockheed Martin, looked at building bridges between internal and external communication. John comes from an external comms background and is a clear advocate of taking an integrated communication approach, with internal, external, digital and investor relations working together in an aligned and strategic manner with a clear owner of the plan driving the delivery of the activity and messages forward but with a clear emphasis on an employee first approach.
John’s top trends to watch and embrace:
- integrated and multi-skilled teams
- individualisation of content
- increased use of video
- internal social networks
- employer apps
- use of personal devices
- collection of employee data
- employee demographics
We then heard from Kevin Ruck, measurement and internal comms expert, who has recently completed a phd in the subject. As part of his work, Kevin has devised a set of principles to aid measurement using the acronym AVID.
Alignment – connecting communication activity and outomes with corporate strategy
Voice – listening to employees and using that to inform planning and strategy
Identification – employees’s belief in corporate values and vision
Dialogue – underpinning each of these elements with informing, listening and discussing
Kevin went on to describe ten questions we can ask to find out internal communication’s impact upon employee engagement:
Sasha Watson, CIPR Inside committee member and Director, Internal Communications at ARM shared how measurement can be used to inform an internal communication strategy highlighting the importance of research, comms audits and data-driven decision making.
And to complete our day, Janet Morgan who talked about turning strategy into action at GSK. Such a huge company with many different brands, working across continents, with local strategies and stories despite the overarching five strategic priorities made it a challenge to tell a coherent story. The goal was to: increase pride internally and reputation externally – thinking, behaving and being seen as one company.
Janet worked on a narrative to provide a consistent story for the company built around themes and proof points that would tell the same story internally as externally and form the backbone of all the materials the different parts of the business may need to develop.
We had a full-on day with a good pace of case studies from some award winning communication professionals interspersed with some practical workshop and discussion based sessions.
A huge thank you to our sponsors and speakers without whom we would not have this conference.
ContactEngine, MEDIAmaker, theblueballroom, snapcomms, HarknessKennett, Chatter, CIPR, Spiked Media and Square production have each helped us to make this event happen – THANK YOU.
And this thank you from Rachel Miller sums up the event: “Attending the annual IC conference from CIPR Inside is always a highlight of my comms calendar. This year was no exception, I thought the variety of presentations and opportunities to network were fantastic. You can’t beat learning from peers and I thought the refreshed format worked well. It was a pleasure to be asked to speak, I enjoyed sharing my thoughts on content with delegates on the day and the subsequent conversations. Well done to the committee for another outstanding event.”
We hope everyone had a good day – feedback is always welcome – so if you attended, do our quick feedback survey here to tell us – what’s more if you add your email address at the end we’ll enter you to our prize draw to win a bottle of bubbly, so what are you waiting for?
Lots of delegates from the day have already shared their blogs with us and we’re pleased to include links to those that we know about here. If you have written a post drop us a line and we’ll add you too, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dawn Smedley Making an impact 2015 – CIPR Inside
Jane Revell Making an impact – the power of connecting emotionally
Kirstie Pickering The brave new world of internal comms
Kyla Lacey-Davidson Leaders are key to engagement
Paul Summerhill My name is Paul, and I’m a sticky postman
Rachel Miller How to make and impact with your internal comms
Steven Murgatroyd Make an impact…from behind the scenes
We hope that this summary and these posts along with the slides will provide a good reference point and if you couldn’t join us on the day it should give you a good insight into what was covered.
Next up it’s our awards which are open for entries and we’re hoping that all of this great work being shared has inspired you to enter the awards and share your super work too. See all the details about the awards here.
So for anyone wondering what I get up to in my day job – this should help shed a little light.