As day two continues in full flow I have managed to track down my colleague, Helen Magnay who looks after internal comms for the global side of SSP. She very kindly volunteered to do a guest post for my blog as I was unable to join on day one and as this was her first Melcrum event I thought it be a good insight. So over the Helen and thank you once agin!
Ok ,so honestly if a colleague had not been speaking would I have attended this conference? Probably not. In your busy day job how do you make room in your diary and take time out to look at what other internal communicators have on their agenda and force yourself to reconsider your own?
If you are not a supplier or agency to the internal comms market (like the companies that lined the refreshment area), or have moved across into an internal comms role from another discipline, you may never have heard of Melcrum. They are not accredited as a professional body, like the raft of indecipherable acronym bodies I encountered working for an engineering consultancy, or my own experience qualifying with CIM. It is an interesting problem for Melcrum as it is much harder to get time out and justify the ticket price to your manager when the words Chartered Institute do not appear in the title.
The introduction from Bec, with a semi stand up comedy style ‘comparing’ of the event immediately settled the room and set the tone. Just because you get a bunch of professionals in a room, doesn’t mean it needs to be stuffy or chartered!
What followed were a series of presentations case studies and real life examples of the issues we face as an internal communicator. Presentations ranged from the provable link between employee engagement and increased revenue( MacLeod and Clarke) to an inspiring presentation from ebay about their ambitious Monday web conferences that have made their employees into internal TV stars (and made me want to work for them).
After lunch and time to reflect I was feeling a little disheartened. Sure it was nice to nod and crack a wry smile at the anecdotes resonating because they were all too familiar and (enjoy the camaraderie over our fork buffet) we were all facing the same challenges, but were we not all preaching to the converted? I couldn’t help but feel that our leadership team should be there not me.
This feeling was echoed in a question to the floor in the closing panel discussion “ We have been saying for all my career of 17 years that the profession of internal communications is not taken seriously, what can we do so we are not saying it again in this forum next year?”
The overall sense from panel and delegates is that though we cannot claim to lead business transformation, we should have a seat at the table. We can only earn that by better demonstrating what we have to offer.
So if I was to take one thing away from the day it would be this – Be brave. There is no point complaining that IC should be involved with business initiatives, or part of your companies’ change agenda if you are not doing your best to show what you can bring to the table. If the departments you think you can add value to are not beating the path to your door then push on theirs, otherwise we may be seen as a creator of materials for yet another year.