Focusing on excellent internal communication

This week I had the pleasure of speaking at the first ever Government Communication Service (GCS) internal communication conference here in the UK.

The UK Government Internal Communications Excellence project, #ICExcellence, is a reform that has been underway since the Autumn headed up by Russell Grossman, @russellgrossman, Director of Communications, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

Writing on the GCS blog,  Russell describes it as: “One of the building blocks in creating a stronger, more professional communications service across government. #ICExcellence is aimed across the Civil Service and its Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs). This comprises around 350 organisations containing some 420,000 people – which must constitute one of the largest employee groups in the UK.

So there’s a lot to gain here if we get this right.

“When all the #ICExcellence strands are complete, later in 2014, we should be much better equipped to create significantly raised levels of employee engagement across government. This should not only raise performance but also the extent to which people create enhanced value for UK business and citizens, and feel more valued in return for doing so.”

On Wednesday 12 February around 200 communicators gathered for Internal Communications Excellence held at BIS in London.

The day was opened by Alex Aiken, @alexanderaiken, Executive Director of Government Communications. Alex has called called 2014 “the year of internal communication” and the event was a call to arms for IC pros to tackle the challenges facing public sector practitioners head on.

These challenges include leadership, development, engagement and digital, and the event provided an opportunity to find out more about not only those topics but also the GCS internal communications excellence reform project.

I enjoyed hearing insights both from Alex and Russell. You can see some of their thoughts below and I’ve included a link to a Storify I’ve created at the foot of this page where you can see all the tweets from the day.

Transformational opportunity

I liked the fact internal communication was referred to as a “transformational opportunity,” it certainly felt like I was at the start of something significant for the communicators in the room, particularly as it was the first time they had all met face-to-face.

It was refreshing to hear repeatedly the importance of linking communication and business strategies together as the recipe for success, and I enjoyed talking with many of the comms pros during the breaks.

Thank you to everyone who has got in touch since via LinkedIn, Twitter, my blog and email. I’ve enjoyed reading through your messages and hearing the thoughts my talk sparked, and the ideas you are going to implement and try after hearing my presentation.

Changing role

RachelMiller_speakingI spoke about the changing role of internal communicators, which was a recurring theme throughout the day, highlighted again later by Sean Larkins, Head of Government Communication Policy and Capability at Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office, and Andy Rushton, Head of Communications at Department for Work & Pensions.

Among the topics I covered were the shift from tactical to strategic, the expectations placed on us, defining what we do, and how to grow and develop yourself personally and professionally. I also shared thoughts about the importance of building your professional network. 



It was a treat to hear from Jane Sparrow @janiesparr, on the day. I have had Jane’s book, The Culture Builders: Leadership Strategies for Employee Performance, on my bookshelf for too long without actually finishing it. I have committed to myself to do so in the near future.

Enter The IC Space
I wrote last month about the launch of The IC Space resource, and Victoria Ford, @victoriafordUK, Head of Communications at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, DVLA, who led a team of writers, editors and designers, and she guided delegates through the site and the thinking behind it.

Final date – 18 February
Public sector comms pros who were unable to attend on Wednesday are invited to attend the second #ICExcellence conference, which is happening in Manchester next week, (18 February 2014). Unfortunately prior commitments in my diary mean I am unable to attend that session, but if this week is anything to go by, it is a great use of time and opportunity to reflect, learn, network and go forward.

Thank you to the Government Communication Service for inviting me along, and I wish you continued success with the reforms.


P.s. Want to know where I am speaking next? See my speaking page. If you’d like to talk with me about an event  you’re planning, see my work with me page or contact form.

Storify from 12 February is below featuring all the content from the day:

The Government Communication Service @UKGovcomms held an event for public sector internal communicators on 12 February 2014 in London. Here’s what happened…

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