A focus on all things IC by Rachel Roberts

Voting has opened in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) elections.

As a Fellow of the Institute and someone who invests in my membership and professional development annually, I’m always curious to discover who is standing.

Positions up for the vote are President (including a year as President-Elect) and Council members.

If you’re able to vote, don’t forget to have your say before Friday 16 October 2020. See the CIPR website for full information and to read details about all the candidates.

Presidential candidates Rachel Roberts and Peter Holt have set out their stalls and if you’re an eligible member, I encourage you to vote.

I have voted for Rachel Roberts as her empowerment mission resonates with me and I like what she’s standing for.

Her candidate statement states:

“This is my agenda for Empowerment…

  • Empowering CIPR members to get involved, supporting employability, connecting to peers, learning new skills and leading their professional community
  • Empowering new ways of working, collaboration, getting more done, more easily
  • Empowering more voices to engage and broadening inclusion.”

I also appreciate the fact she is present at Internal Comms events, such as last week’s excellent #CommsHero conference, and has contributed to our profession for years.

Rachel is the Founder of spottydog Communications and was nominated by Stuart Bruce, Richard Bagnall, Rob Brown, Alison Clarke, Eva Maclaine, Ella Minty, Advita Patel, Aimee Postle, Dr Kevin Ruck and Steve Shepperson-Smith.

You can find her on Twitter @SpotRachel.

I caught up with Rachel over the weekend to ask her the same questions I’ve asked previous candidates (including Mandy Pearse last year), to discover her views on all things internal comms related.

Best of luck to everyone who has put their hat in the ring for the various roles and seats.

1) Rachel – what is your vision for the CIPR?

My vision for the CIPR is to be more inclusive and bring new voices to the table – by getting involved CIPR members can empower their own careers by developing their skills, connecting to peers and leading in their professional community.

Inclusivity is important because if you have the power of many whatever the focus – whether that’s ethics, digital, future skills, member benefits, employability – you can make change happen.

I could have the best vision in the world but if I’m only talking to myself it will be difficult to make change happen, I hope to inspire members to join on the journey of change.

2) What’s your view on internal communication?

My view is defined by my first job in PR, as a communications officer at Yellow Pages where my role was to enable communications externally and internally.

I have never considered internal and external comms as separate silo channels, and I believe they are of equal importance and should be aligned so messaging is complementary.

As with external communications, in a busy corporate landscape you can’t assume the audience will pay attention, so creativity and data is important to ensure message delivery.

I recognise that working in IC can be quite isolating and I see organisations prioritising the resourcing of external comms and marketing teams in contrast with perhaps a single IC representative. That’s why IC professionals being able to access a community of fellow practitioners through CIPR is a really important benefit.

I would define myself as a more generalist communications professional and I recognise the specialist knowledge from Internal Communications professionals is essential to harness the power of an organisation to engage with its own people.

I’m interested in learning and hearing from IC experts and I’ve put effort into expanding my understanding – organising a dedicated Midlands IC Conference back in 2014 which first helped me to connect to Jenni Field and the CIPR Inside community.

Since then I’ve attended CIPR Inside Conferences, participated within the East Midlands Internal Communications network and Engage for Success plus organised a further IC-focused Midlands event featuring Sheila Parry who outlined her PRIDE employee engagement model.

I hope this is evidence that I have a great track record in my interest and recognition of the role of internal communication!

3) What role do you see IC pros playing in CIPR?

I see the internal communications CIPR member community as being one of our underutilised assets – they are the communicators that bridge the gap between other functions, particularly HR.

To strengthen our voice in the C-Suite we need to build allies for the communications function across the organisation.

Over the last six months I’ve seen IC professionals as being the last to be furloughed as organisations really recognised the value of internal communications being critical for survival.

It has strengthened the profile and relationships with CEO so at least this is a positive outcome from the pandemic and let’s hope this recognition is here to stay.

We should build on this to maintain the visibility of the communications function and IC professionals could be our best ally for this to benefit the wider communications profession.

4)  Rachel – if you were elected, what could IC pros expect from you?

I’m not an IC specialist, so I’m not here to tell IC professionals how to be better communications professionals – but I’m definitely here to serve and listen to views on how we could empower them to get more from their membership.

I can absolutely promise to ensure a focus on sustainability, especially in the current economic climate. As an entrepreneur I have a proven track record understanding how to build a successful business – even in this pandemic I have welcomed three new team members to my team in the last six months.

We have to grow our way out of this crisis to enable us to deliver on our promises to CIPR members, and hopefully welcome a few more to the community.

I see an exciting opportunity ahead and some easy ways to take a leap forward – just repackaging the knowledge we already have to create packages for students, members affected by redundancy, returners, graduates and international members would be an incredibly easy way to engage with practitioners around career stage need and perhaps appeal to new joiners.

It’s a big job to do, but with a well-established business and complete confidence in my own management team, I’m free to step away from my business to give my time to deliver on my promises.

This plays to my commitment to my own social purpose and empowering people to use their own talents to achieve.

I’m also committed to continuing the work started by Jenni Field to increase collaboration between our specialist practitioners and Groups across our Nations and Regions.

It would be awesome if every Group could have a buddy contact into every other committee so we break silo working and more easily share best practice and events, and I’d be happy to nominate an IC professional to stand to join the CIPR Midlands committee before our AGM on 29 October 2020.

5) How important is internal communication?

I hope my track record demonstrates that I already recognise the importance and my commitment to internal communication, but the role of the President is to represent all corners of CIPR and all voices.

I will ensure that the voice of internal communications practitioners are heard, but for reasons of inclusion I want to ensure our narrative represents the diversity of practice across the CIPR membership so I can’t promise to lobby for one group or area of practice disproportionately I’m afraid.


6) Anything else you think we should know or you want to add?

In the current climate, it’s natural CIPR members may feel uncertain about our future. It’s clear the pandemic has impacted us immeasurably but we should recognise we have always operated in an evolving landscape where external factors beyond our control impact on our professional responsibilities – whether that’s political, economic, social or technology.

In my own business and through my Linkedin community I’ve already seen green shoots and it’s a joy to see people responding positively – moving into new roles, upskilling and doing things differently.

Change brings opportunities, not threats and we need to believe in ourselves and our ability to respond accordingly.

If we don’t back ourselves, how can we expect others to buy in to our capability? We need to take responsibility to define our own worlds, not retreat and I believe nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it.

I strongly believe being part of CIPR strengthens our hand as individual communications professionals and working together we can support each other to get through this.

Thank you Rachel for taking the time to answer these questions.

See the CIPR website for full information and to read details about all the candidates.

Best of luck to everyone standing.

I hope you have a great week, thank you for stopping by.

My monthly newsletter, The Water Cooler, will be hitting your inbox this week, so do look out for it if you’re a subscriber.


P.s. Don’t forget World Mental Health Day is at the end of the week. I’ve got you covered – check out this blog post to help you get organised.

P.p.s. I’ve just opened my VIP mentoring programme. Regular readers will know I only open the doors a few times a year, so I can work closely with the Internal Comms pros and Consultants who choose to be mentored by me.

See the mentoring pages to discover how I can support you confidentially 1-2-1 via a short term or longer term partnership.

Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 4 October 2020.

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