Day two of Melcrum’s Strategic Communication Management summit…

As promised, here is part two of Steven Murgatroyd’s write-up of Melcrum’s Strategic Communication Management (SCM) summit. If you’d like to view a short film about the summit, which took place from 12-13 October, Melcrum has now published one on their site and you can view it here. Congratulations to everyone who won SCM awards, you can read more info about the whole event via their website.

I’ll hand over to Steven to share his (unfiltered) thoughts on his experiences at the summit now. If you want to write a guest post for my blog, please see the foot of this article. Over to you Steven…

Hopefully you all stayed awake during my account of the first day, and are eagerly awaiting the second day review. To give you a glimpse, it will involve such internal comms heavyweights as Adam Lloyd (@adamlloyd) from Ericsson, Jacobina Plummer (@jacobinaplummer) from Unilever and of course the Queen of Comms herself Jenni Wheller (@jenniwheller) from SSP UK. Anyway, enough of the cheap plugs, in the hope they retweet me, let’s get on with day two.

During day one we’d been warned on a number of occasions that in the evening, the conference room would be full of drunken communicators attending the SCM Awards. As such, I turned up on day two expecting to see a number of hungover delegates with heads in their hands. However, it appeared that either communicators aren’t affected by hangovers or people didn’t drink enough! I’ll leave that choice to you.

Day One started with Jo Cook and Paul Hickson (@paulhicksonuk) from HomeServe talking about the issues they had with communicating to a remote workforce and how they’d used Ipadio to solve that problem. As I mentioned earlier I did some work with Ipadio when I worked at Asda, to enable an Asda colleague to blog from South Africa after they won a competition to go to a World Cup 2010 game. The technology they use (phlogging/phone blogging) is so simple and effective that anyone can use it and it simplifies the comms process instantly. HomeServe used Ipadio to get messages to employees who don’t work at an office and only have a mobile phone as a form of communication. I think the area which separates Ipadio from other telephone comms options is that Ipadio allow two-way comms and creates a real sense of community. For anyone who struggles with employees who aren’t office based, I would highly recommend looking at Before I left Asda, I was pushing for something similar to what HomeServe and done and judging by their results, it would’ve worked well. They’ve created a real sense of engagement from their remote workers, which is never an easy task.

A cup of comms
Next up was a quick welcome from Melcum’s Rebecca Richmond again, then passing onto Nalin Miglani and Philippa Brown from Tata Global Beverages to talk about using a period of change to create a unique and world class corporate culture. As I’m more of a coffee drinker than tea, the first few slides of why I should drink tea were a bit lost on me. Unless they plan on changing the taste of tea, to make it less like a sweaty sock then I’ll be sticking with coffee. However, after those slides, Nalin and Philippa went through some really impressive content around how they created a culture people can be proud of. A couple of my favourite ideas were creating six comms principles which every piece of communication should show, this meant all comms were of a good enough quality to convey the message required. They also introduced five themes which the communication fits into; those themes were then clearly branded with their own logos and taglines. They also introduced Culture Champions who were advocates of the new culture and could support the communications going out to the wider business. The champions were able to embed the message through various events and positive reinforcement.

They then moved onto once of the most impressive colleague suggestion schemes I’ve ever seen! Called Think Big, the scheme was designed to engage employees and allow then to innovate. Employees were asked to send in their ideas, eventually they received over 1,300 ideas, and the best ideas were chosen to go to New York (yes…that New York!) for a week of boot camp to enable them to present their idea to the judging panel. I can’t think of a better way to get employees engaged than offering them the chance to go to NYC, it was a truly amazing opportunity!

Using line managers as an effective link
Next up was Julia Hart from AkzoNobel, talking about using line managers as an effective link to dispersed employees. Julia started by explaining what AkzoNobel does, they’re the world’s leading coatings and speciality chemicals company, which was a bonus as I had no idea. Julia told us that a few years ago that AkzoNobel had one man doing internal comms for the whole company; think we all felt a universal sense of pity for him! When Julia started, she decided it was important for the company to work as one, rather than a disparate collection of areas. She started listening groups with managers to make sure she worked with them on what communication should look like. They also produced a brochure to explain to managers what communication should look like and created a communication academy which allowed people to learn more about communication and doing it correctly. I loved both of those ideas and think one of the main inhibitors for comms is that some managers are there because they get the job done any way they can, however, what they’re not good at is communicating the wider message of why it has to be done to their colleagues. Julia also said that it’s important to get out of the ‘ivory tower’ and go to see people to make sure the comms are successful, I think that’s pretty sound advice and any communicator not doing that should start immediately.

Unlocking the brain
After a coffee break (or as tea break as Nalin asked us to say) Jeremy Starling came on stage and immediately made it clear to use that there was to be no presentation here! The premise of Jeremy’s slot was for us to come up with what had been the biggest game changing ideas of the last ten years, and then what would be the biggest in the next ten. I immediately lost favour with my table by explaining that ten years ago I was 16 and just leaving high school. We eventually got some ideas written down and then moved onto the next ten years. Once we’d finished that, each table had to pick their best idea and then everyone else voted on it. The result showed that even communicators don’t take everything seriously; the winning idea was that in ten years’ time we will have unlocked the 80% of our brain we don’t use and be able to work during our sleep so we don’t have to during the day! Overall it was a good session, as it got people thinking and interacting rather than watching another presentation.

The hub of the matter
The next presentation was of huge interest me as I look after the intranet at KCOM and was preparing to relaunch the following week. So I had high expectations of Paolo Peretti and Jenni Wheller from SSP when they stood up to present. Also because I know Jenni through other Melcrum events and Twitter I was intrigued to see what she had to say. If her support on Twitter was anything to go by, she truly is the rock star of comms and Social Media! Paolo started by giving us some background on what SSP is and the brands they work with, which was a pretty impressive list of the who’s who of convenience food stores.  Jenni then took over and explained to us the issues the old intranet at SSP had and how they were looking to address those with the new intranet, called The Hub, which is the same name as the KCOM Intranet. SSP have also given employees the opportunity to subscribe to the content they find relevant to them, I think this is a great idea and makes sure people don’t get bored of content or disillusioned with the intranet. In my opinion no intranet is ever complete, it’s always evolving and needs to stay that way to make sure it doesn’t get left behind, but the way SSP have built the framework for their intranet means it’s much easier to evolve rather than reinvent. The results they’ve seen since launch are pretty impressive as well and I will definitely be pestering Jenni for constant updates and looking at what I can steal…sorry borrow! (Note from Rachel – you can read about Jenni’s presentation here via her blog).

After Lunch, another selection of lovely food but served in the most bizarre way I’ve ever seen, we went into the breakout sessions. The first choice was between ‘The Future of Internal Comms’ and ‘Intranet Evolution’ as I manage the intranet I thought it was more useful for me to choose that option. The session was run by Adam Lloyd and Christine Cornelius from Ericsson, and they focused on a collaboration tool called MYnet. MYnet works with SharePoint and enables employees to collaborate more easily. As my intranet has been built on SharePoint my ears immediately picked up and I was intrigued as to how they’d done it. Safe to say, I’ve since emailed Adam to get more information. Through having an engaged CEO who promotes the site, and also plugging into the employee base that were already collaborating on sites such as Yammer, they’ve been able to get 42,000 users since November 2010. Giving people the opportunity to get quick answers to simple questions but also find area specialities when they need to, is the dream of all intranet managers in the 2.0 era I’m sure.

Agile working
The choice for the next session was between ‘Agile Working’ and ‘Bringing business strategy to life’. As a huge fan of agile working, I picked that session and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, after seeing what Unilever have done in terms of agile working and their head office I’ll be keeping my eye open for any vacancies in the future (if my line manager is reading this, only joking!). For me, agile working is the only way forward for companies. In today’s modern workplaces there’s no real need to be in the office all the time. I have a laptop and wireless internet in my flat so can connect remotely. As a company we also Microsoft Lync so I’m able to do all my calls through my PC meaning I don’t need a phone. I can only see this growing in the future to the point where it might not even become cost effective to have an office!

Jacobina Plummer from Unilever talked to us about what Unilever have done to really lead the way in agile working, and not just in terms of actual office space. Ideas such as performance being judged on results rather than time and attendance, make perfect sense. We all know people who are in the office before you and leave after, but are they really being that productive? Why do they need to be in the office for so long? Either they’re not working to a high enough level or they have too much work! Jacobina also made the point that at Unilever, desk space is given on need rather than seniority. Why should a CEO who is only in the office for one hour a day have the largest space? Obviously some employees are required to be on-site, but the cost savings from not having to power and light a full office could be huge over the course of a full year.

Once Jacobina had finished, we moved onto the final session which was another panel discussion on The Digital Workplace. On the panel were representatives from SharePoint (Stop booing!) and Yammer, as well as Paul Miller from the Intranet Benchmarking Forum. It was an interesting discussion and about how the Digital Workplace is evolving and it’s important that as a communication function we all go with that.

We ended the day with a thank you from Rebecca Richmond and were sent on our way. Once again I’d attended a conference run by Melcrum and left thoroughly inspired. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference. Hopefully I might even be on stage bragging about something we did at KCOM.

Overall I thought the two days were massively useful and I took lots from it. There were lots of interesting speakers and as someone who is always looking to try new things I got lots of ideas to at least pitch to my line manager.

Well that’s my article done, hope you all enjoyed it and feel free to get in touch @steve_murg if you have any feedback or just fancy reading my inane ramblings on twitter. Thanks to Rachel for letting me guest blog, I think getting communicators to write about conferences is a great idea and will really help with knowledge sharing. I look forward to reading the next guest blog…bye for now!

Post author: Steven Murgatroyd

Thanks very much Steven for a comprehensive overview and insight into what was discussed at the Melcrum SCM conference. As he said, I’m trying to encourage communicators to share the wealth so if you have been to a conference/course and think others would benefit from what you learnt, do get in touch with me with your idea. You can email me: or tweet me @AllthingsIC.

Until next time, thanks as ever for stopping by Diary of an internal communicator and special thanks to Steven for sharing his SCM impressions.

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