Why I will continue to support CIPR – if elected!

I have been part of the CIPR team for a number of years, supporting Council and the Inside group as they continue to strive for greatness in our profession. I believe in the power of communication and I believe in the integrity of PR.

I have worked in communication for over 10 years and have spent most of my career in-house. I have covered advertising, defence, retail and more recently pharmaceutical industries focussing on both internal and external communication. I believe the two are intrinsically linked but are fundamentally different. I see my role in CIPR as being a voice of the in-house comms professional – ensuring the professional development is right for everyone and that internal communications is recognised as a standalone communications skill.

I believe the members of CIPR deserve to be kept informed, updated and engaged in the work that we do and that they should be connected to each other in a way that fosters collaboration and development. As professionals it is our duty to make sure we are delivering world-class communications and PR for the organisations we serve and we can only do this through using the power of the network we have. As a collective group we will be able to raise the profile of communications and PR and what it can do for business, and we can raise the standards that we operate in. I want us to build a great and respected membership organisation that brings ethics, integrity, respect, diversity and engagement to the fore.

I want to continue to serve our members by sitting on Council, sitting on the Professional Development and Membership Committee (PDMC) and working with the Inside group so that I can be the bridge between those working in house and those setting the standards. I will listen, I will support and I will make the time to ensure that CIPR is serving all our members in what they need to become the best communications and PR professional they can be.

Why internal communicators need a voice with CIPR

Next week the CIPR opens the elections for Council. As Chair of CIPR Inside I currently sit on the Council but things are changing and this now needs to be a position that is voted in. So I need your help, if you’re a CIPR member then please get voting – to help, here is a little bit about why I think you should vote for me!

Who am I and why should you vote for me?

  • I’m an experienced internal communicator championing the role that internal communication plays in adding value to organisations
  • I believe internal communicators should have their voices heard
  • I want to continue to raise the standards of professional development across all disciplines. CPD must be relevant to members, employers and clients
  • I want to make information from CIPR Inside easier to find, trusted and valued
  • I want us to work together to define how we measure and link to business performance. CIPR has already delivered guidance through its work with AMEC and I want to see more work like this, aligned to the internal communications profession, which will support it becoming a reality
  • I want to inspire a generation into the profession

Who I am

I’m Chair of CIPR Inside and have been involved with the group for a number of years as a committee member and Treasurer. I work in London as Head of Internal Communication but have held both Internal Communication and PR roles, both in-house and agency with a mixture of public and private sector.

I’m passionate about internal communication and what it can help businesses achieve, which is why I co-founded The IC Crowd 18 months ago. I value professional development, recently completing the CIPR Internal Communication Diploma.
My link to the CIPR

CIPR Inside is the voice of internal communication within CIPR, a group that makes an impact on our industry and the professionals within it. With a voice on the Council, we can make sure internal communications is part of the conversation about professionalism, development and ethics. We will be there when decisions are made about the future of CIPR and how it adapts to meet our members’ needs.

I’ve been involved with CIPR Inside for a number of years, before becoming Chair in March. We’ve focussed the Committee on specialist subjects and events, and at our conference in October I’m planning to launch a three-year strategy.
What I can do for the industry

I believe there’s a fundamental difference between PR and internal communication, but that doesn’t mean that the two aren’t intrinsically linked. CIPR is the professional body to champion this link. Working together, we can make sure that internal communication stays at the top of the agenda for our senior teams and they understand the power of getting it right.

I want to inspire people to work in communications and engage members to help them navigate their careers. I want to make sure that organisations understand that value, and use CIPR as a mark to find a professional who can deliver what they need.

The voting process

Following a period of nomination, a list of candidates has been released, and between 1 September and 22 September, voting on these seats gets underway. Every member has two votes, a first and second vote.

Changing behaviour for better business

This year the CIPR inside conference is all about changing behaviours. When I took over the role of Chair back in March I knew that being in house gave a me a different view on things from my agency predecessors and I wanted to bring some of my challenges forward.

Over the years my role has changed, not just in the role I’m in now but ever since I started in the world of communications 10 years ago.

When I consider the challenges I face today they include:

– Leadership buy in

– Making sure the communication has an impact and does what the business needs it to do

– Managing culture change

But these challenges change as the business changes so while the second point is a big one for me at the moment I wasn’t sure if it would be for everyone. That’s where having a great committee comes in and as we thrashed out the skeleton of the conference I realised I wasn’t alone. It really dawned on me when I met with an agency who showed me a great campaign. Their measurement was the number of people who understood the message and felt engaged with it. I found myself asking so what? There must have been business drivers behind the campaign so let’s get that in as the measurement.

And so my thinking and my plan for CIPR inside started to evolve.

As a committee we decided to shake up the traditional format. We want to bring the case studies in but we also want to bring in elements of an unconference and give people a chance to share and talk about their stories.

This year our conference hinges around this. We have a keynote speaker to get our minds working and then four lightning talks from various people across the business. Talking about digital, measurement and more all aligned to how it changes behaviours. The plan is to use this content to spark discussion and give all delegates the chance to go and talk in groups about these topics before lunch.

After plenty of discussion, lunch networking with peers and our sponsors we then go into a few great case studies, some leading research and a panel discussion.

I want this day to be fun, informal and informative. We all face challenges that change from time to time but none that others haven’t faced before. Spending a day out of the office and with people who do the same as you is one of my favourite ways to learn and benchmark my activities.

So will you be joining us on 2 October?

Why aren’t we called Internal PR?

Today I attended my second CIPR Council meeting at CIPR HQ in Russell Square in my role as Chairwoman for CIPR Inside. I haven’t talked much about my role here (I plan to do more of that soon) but today we had some interesting discussion about the PR industry – what is wrong with the image and how we can change it.

After some discussion around some recent high profile cases, the conversation was starting to really consider what the challenges are for PR’s in today’s world. As the blurring of the lines between internal and external is on our agenda I wanted to know if they saw this as something that was on their radar too.

What was interesting was the discussion that followed, and I subsequently took to Twitter, around why we have communication in our departments and titles. Someone also suggested we should just be internal PR rather than internal communications.

Well, you certainly didn’t like that….

This just reinforces the reputation that PR has. The fact a group of people so closely linked to the industry don’t want to be associated with it speaks volumes.

What surprised me in the room was the conversation around management consultants and their role in the PR space. There was a fear that they could step into the shoes of a PR person  because they can “speak the language of the board”. This is not something I think any person in the world of communication should worry about – they should simply develop themselves and adapt to be able to do the same. I don’t see any value in worrying about something that is in your circle of influence (to quote Stephen Covey). Learning the language of business is one thing every internal communicator has to do and I thought the same of my colleagues focussing on the external side.

So when I took to Twitter again to ask what the perceptions were of PR and how we differed. It was lovely to see such succinct reasons for why we shouldn’t be called internal PR and why what we do is so different…

So with the debate no doubt far from over, we closed the discussion  to look at how we can improve PR’s reputation and the overall industry. There were lots of ideas around working with universities to make sure the courses are really fit for purpose as well as just getting on with the job and doing what we do well, ensuring that over time that old reputation will disappear.

With internal comms suffering similar challenges around its purpose, where it adds value and one of my biggest challenges which is the different levels you can have IC operating at in different organisation – we are all in this together to improve the perception of all communication disciplines.

But I can’t see myself ever being in “Internal PR”…

Diary of a diploma: Day three

Despite snow, wind and rain everyone made it to class on Saturday 23 March for discussions around planning, branding, employee voice, persuasion and internal social media.

We were joined by Juliet Earp who talked us through her case study with HSBC and Tom Crawford from The Brain Miner who discussed engaging with brands and also the importance of our own personal brands in business.

I have really struggled to keep up with the reading this time. I think as work gets busier you use any downtime you get to just relax and and get some head space, using that time to read and learn just hasn’t been feasible. Still, this is why I chose the face to face course. After 4 hours in class the bug is back and I’m really starting to get excited about my paper now.

Planning

We started the day looking at planning and discussed the CIPR Inside Measurement Matrix and the RADAR model designed by Kevin Ruck: Research, Assess, Decide, Act, Review. A simple but effective model that demonstrates what we should be doing as we work through our comms challenges. Measurement is high on my agenda for next year so this is really relevant for me at the moment. As I start to explore what to measure and how to map this to stakeholders the tools we are talking about throughout the diploma are really helping.

Employee Voice

Employee Voice is a real buzzword at the moment. For me, it should be part of the conversation and dialogue that internal comms facilitates so it was great to hear how HSBC are integrating it into the business.  Once a quarter they have asked managers to swap a normal team meeting for an ‘exchange’. This is where the manager or team leader says nothing, there is no agenda and the people are allowed to talk about issues, challenges or give feedback on everything. I love this idea and will be looking at how we can use a similar method in our business.

Branding

From channel champs to brand builders was the topic before and after lunch. Tom used to work at EON so he took us through his challenge and how he overcame it. It was great to hear from someone talking about communicating with people who are are offline and hard to reach – there were some great ideas:

  • Using audio and video for team briefs and senior leader profiling
  • Sending magic tree car air fresheners to the guys in the vans with the phone number to listen to the audio cascades
  • Using a more intelligent conference call system where everyone can dial in and ask the CEO or the board a question. Managed through a moderator and with people being able to speak managed throughout the call this seemed so simple yet so effective
  • Use of storytelling to engage people with the strategy
  • A strong team of one internal comms person per thousand employees – something I think every department struggles with
  • Changing meeting rooms to be customer spaces. For EON this was different rooms in a house, with products in use throughout the room

As the role of the internal communicator changes our personal brand in the business needs to be considered. I’m often guilty of letting frustrations air in public and being impatient with the speed at which we can affect change.

“A brand is what people say about you after you’ve left the room” – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon

So it is time to think about my own brand and what I stand for. Not just what my career says about me but what is important in my life – something we probably don’t share enough. Tom also gave an example of where the internal comms team should have their own ambition/mission to give them a sense of branding:

“Through sustaining pride and belief in this organisation we will ensure colleagues feel inspired to do their best work and advocate for our brand, right when we need it most.”

As we start to look at what our personal brand says, and the brand of the department we also need to consider the roles that we play in our businesses:

  • The court jester – telling the truth and being a bit different to the norm
  • The Gok Wan – offering advice on what clothes, appearance etc. are appropriate and when a suit just isn’t ok
  • The Mystic Meg – looking outside the business and determining the effect that will have on our business and our people
  • The spin doctor – the role that will never go away but is not our main focus
  • The psychologist – understanding people

Internal social media and persuasion

We ended the day with a quick look at internal social media, persuasion and ethics. We looked at the four types of digital culture: Closet communicators, co-creators, controlled communicators and constrained communicators. Great to start looking at some theory around such a hot topic.

So as persuasion and ethics ended the day it became clear that being a credible communicator is the way forward. Showing expertise, trustworthiness and goodwill are all traits we should be demonstrating, everyday.

So as day three closed, the plans for the project start to take shape even more and it’s time to seriously hit the books and write this literature review!

Diary of a Diploma: Day two

We are now well underway with the Diploma and after day one on 2 February, we all had to read nine chapters from two different books. I am not sure how I would fit this in if I had to drive to work – the 40 minutes each way on the train is now my study time and allows we to get through a lot!

I’m really enjoying the reading as I’m starting to plan my strategy for 2014 and some of the themes we are reading about are very relevant to my organisation.

On day two, 23 February, we moved on to explore change communication, problem solving and our projects. We were joined by management consultant and author John Smythe, who took time out of his Saturday to talk to us about his theories and ideas on the role of communications and how things are changing.

One of the great things about the course is the face-to-face element. We are all in different places in our careers and all from different industries so it is great to spend time working things through together. We discuss, in depth, some of the models used for internal communication and on Saturday this was no exception. We spent time looking at Kotter’s model for change and explored how this differs to Wheatley’s and Herrero’s views, all underpinned by the fact that how we communicate is changing and the top-down model is no longer valid.

There were some great stats and thought provoking statements made during the day that really provided some food for thought:

  • 60% of management problems are due to faulty comms and 75% of change projects fail
  • Communication and engagement can be different roles in organisations. Engagement is not a role, it is a way of leading and managing
  • When looking at change we need to consider how we communicate it – not just the models that explore the steps to manage it but let’s explore the channels and message management
  • Authoritarian regimes, whether in countries or in organisations, are coming to an end
  • God Vs Guide. Our leaders should be on the dance floor with everyone else
  • Our communications strategy should support the what and the why coming from the top, but the how coming from the bottom

An afternoon of creative problem identification and problem solving was amazing. I have never done anything like this and it was a great technique I’ll be taking back to the office. In small groups we each stated our problem. One was chosen to explore. Through exploring the problem the group ask the problem owner a serious of questions about it and the responses can only be factual. After 5-10 minutes the group then re-write the problem based on their findings – it makes you understand what the problem really is before you start looking at solutions. I will definitely be using this when people come to me and ask for a poster or a leaflet to understand more about what they are looking for.

The day flew by and I now have about four ideas for my project! As this is the first time I have done anything like this I genuinely think I have caught the bug as I’m already thinking about what is next for my own development. Before I started this I would have budgeted to attend various conferences throughout the year and some of them are over £1,000 to attend for just two days. Next year I think I’ll spend this money on my own development. I am learning more from doing this over six months than attending any conference – something to think about when you come to setting your budgets next year?

Remember, remember the month of November

What a month! November has been a busy one with the CIPR Inside Conference, Putting Employees First, which I was lucky enough to attend (and speak at), attending and supporting Nick Crawford from Engage Group at an IOIC London event on how to launch Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) and then only this week I attended the IOIC 30 under 30 event, also hosted in London.

I have scribbled notes on everything and rather than post multiple blogs on each event I have combined them all into one here, with key learnings, top tips and some congratulations to my fellow 30 under 30’s!

Putting Employees First

It’s a great statement but what does it actually mean? When we talk about putting employees at the heart of the business how do we do that and what should be doing in the future to secure an engaged audience. This was the topic for my first CIPR Inside event hosted at the Oval in London on 7th November. Chaired by the delightful Kevin Ruck, the event saw 12 speakers from across the globe take to the stage to share insights and ideas about how we can all engage our teams a little better and how we can use social media to do so.

The future, what does it look like?

There were some bleak answers to Max McKeown’s question about the future but we got there in the end. Opportunity is the word that sprang to my mind and one we should really focus on when we think about what is ahead. Max’s presentation involved lots of great images and writing on the white board that was the set, here are some of the my highlights:

  • You’ll never find the right idea if you never let go of the wrong idea
  • There are different types of people inside your organisation. Identify the mavericks and the yes men and work with them through times of change – they all come into their own in different ways

It’s time to be brave with social

I think most of us at the event understood the very loud and clear call for us to be brave. We have talked and talked about doing social inside an organisation and whilst it is clear there is still a long way to go, we need to start doing something!

Rachel Miller did a great session on social following her role in the collaborative book  Share This  which launched earlier this year by CIPR. Rachel did a survey pre-conference about how internal comms pros use social media and shared all the results with us during her 20 minute slot.  To view all the results, check out Rachel’s blog.

Alignment or Engagement?

There was an interesting session on the Alignment Factor from the Reputation Institute which went into some detail and science around aligning employees to the business message and strategy. I’m not sure alignment is the right word and would probably link this more to just engagement (alignment feels a bit militant).

Spencer Fox outlined some key phases to ensure engagement (alignment) in your organisation:

  1. Know before you go: What are you trying to achieve and why
  2. Revealing support and resistance: find your influencers and blockers and work with them
  3. Action plan: initiatives and comms plans
  4. Tracking progress: KPI measurement and making sure you have some success factors

8 Top Tips for Fast Tracking Employee Engagement

This was my topic on the day so here are the 8 tips I shared with the audience:

  1. Have fun. It’s not always about engaging people with an initiative, do an Easter Egg hunt in the office just because it makes people smile
  2. Take people with you. Whatever you are trying to do, take them with you every step of the way
  3. Be the expert. We talk about leaders not understanding social etc. but we need to be experts in our field to advise and be trusted
  4. Talk their language at every level. Know your audience in a meeting and talk to them in terms they use and talk about their expertise
  5. Face to face is best. To engage people, to get their trust you need to see body language and hear tone of voice and get some face time with those in the business. Social can only do so much
  6. Integrate new channels into a mix and make sure you have a strategy. Bringing random new tools in because you think you should won’t engage your teams. They need to know what tool is for what and why
  7. Network inside and out. CIPR Inside events are brilliant for sharing ideas but make sure you take the time to network inside your organisation as well
  8. Why. The main part of my section talked about Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle theory and that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Tell people why you do what you do.

Getting Started with Enterprise Social Networks

Hosted by IOIC London and organised by Joe O’shea this event saw internal comms pros from across London come together for an evening of wine, nibbles and chatter about how we launch these sorts of tools in our business.

The team at Speak Media wrote a great blog to capture the event and as I co-presented with Nick I’ll let them tell you what people took away from it.

One thing I found fascinating? I asked everyone to stand up and those that use Twitter to stay standing. Most of them did which surprised me… I then asked those that hadn’t tweeted in the last month to sit down and most of the audience did. How can we say we use something if we don’t use it regularly? And how can we expect our employees to engage in social tools when still so many people don’t outside of the workplace….

IOIC 30 under 30

The 30 under 30 are the exceptional group and the future leaders of the industry according to host Steve Doswell. I was delighted to be honoured with being on the list and congratulate everyone else that was there on the night:

Andy Bacon (E.ON UK)
Ellie Bringes (AXA Wealth)
Mathew Butler (Make It Media)
Hannah Brocklesby (Scarlett Abbott)
Neil Burgess (RWE nPower)
Sophia Cheng (Simply Communicate)
Alan Coates (44 Communications)
Caroline Cohen (Blue Goose)
Katie Coleman (The Co-operative)
Caroline Dawson (National Grid)
Rhona Deb (Capita Life & Pensions)
Alistair Dewar (Lloyds Banking Group)
Helen Deverell (Sequel Group)
Oliver Forrester (CW Content Works)
Heather Griffiths (Gatwick Airport)
Ben Heppenstall (Trinity Mirror Regionals)
Sophie Hewitt (Capita Life & Pensions)
Sarah Hodges (Ernst & Young)
Laura James (Peverel Property Management)
Rebecca Mercer (Turning Point)
Gary Moss (AB Comms)
Sophie Quartley (Aster Group)
Chloe Shanahan (AVEVA Solutions)
Victoria Stuart (Post Office Ltd)
Vija Valentukonyte (Barclays)
Harry Waddle (University of Nottingham)
Alice Waterman (Marston Group)
Fraser Wilson (University of Nottingham)
Emma Woodward (Siemens)

So what will December hold? Don’t forget to check out The IC Crowd and you may have already seen we are organising Christmas drinks on 11th December at a venue to be announced shortly!