Building the future of internal comms

What do you get if you cross hundreds of arm-wrestling internal comms pros, balloon dogs, puppies who can open washing machines and a live cricket match? The answer is the 12th annual CIPR Inside conference.

It took place on Wednesday 25 September at the Kia Oval cricket ground in London and was hosted by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Inside group, the sector group for IC pros.

futureICI have the pleasure of being Deputy Chair of the CIPR Inside group and would like to thank my fellow committee members and Chair James Harkness for all their hard work, along with the CIPR team, in helping to make the event a success for the .

This was the second time the conference had been held at the Oval, which is a great space for a conference, and I thought it was even bigger and better than last year. The reason being the range of the conversations and the topics that were covered as part of the action-packed day.

Feedback has been largely positive and I’ve been reading through some of the blog articles that have been published by people who attended. They include this article by Kareen Griffiths, who I think sums up succinctly the feeling on the day:

“I believe attending conference is about taking away something for you to think about and understand how you can apply this to where you are. That message should continue to evolve and it’s up to us to take the tips of the day and challenge ourselves, go away and solve them by talking to our colleagues, communication networks, IC groups, opening up the conversations for change.”

The day was organised slightly differently than previous CIPR IC conferences and had workshops for delegates to attend. Sessions included:

  • Building a world-class internal communications function at HSBC (see the slides here)
  • Your career in your hands by Comma Partners
  • Engaging your people to support their brand Blind Veterans UK
  • Diplomatic Excellence at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Cutting through noise of excessive communications by The Team
  • Conversations that make a difference by Couravel
  • Channelling your inner Monica by Telefonica & HarknessKennett
  • Engaging remote workers by Eurostar
  • Engaging employees in sustainability by M&S
  • Creating Momentum by Sport Wales & The Edge.

Catching up and choosing
Hard to choose from! There are a number of articles online capturing thoughts from some of the sessions so you can catch up if you missed out, and info about a dedicated website below.

conf_icOne is an article by my fellow committee member Gihan Hyde who is Head of Internal Communication for Transform at Barclays. Gihan shared her thoughts about Channelling your inner Monica: Getting measurement to work for you, which was hosted by Claire Newton, Head of Internal Communications Strategy, Telefonica UK and Maggie Wotherspoon, Director, HarknessKennett.

Marsha Van Moorsel, a CIPR Inside committee member and Internal Communication Officer at the Royal Institute of British Architects has written about Sarah Larvor’s keynote address. Sarah heads up internal comms at National Grid.

Involve ran an interactive session in the afternoon for delegates to swap notes by writing on the tablecloths (literally) about what they had seen and heard in their workshops. A website was developed and published within 24 hours of the conference ending to pass that information on. You can access it here to read all about the sessions and what the delegates thought.

Building the future of IC
Speakers included: Jenni Wheller and one of her business partners at SSP UK, Barry Gifford, Operations Director Pubs and Bars, talking about ‘The gap between success and failure‘ – which was really enjoyable and they challenged the whole room to arm wrestle, which was an amusing and apt icebreaker, given the topic.

Tanith Dodge from M&S and David MacLeod spoke about Engage for Success and how communicators can ‘keep the employee engagement agenda alive’. Regular readers of my blog will know I’m a keen supporter of Engage for Success and went to Rome with David in May for the launch of the Italian version. It’s always a pleasure to hear him speak and he left the room buzzing with ideas, and you could feel the impact of what he shared.

I chaired the final presentation of the day for all the delegates, on sociable internal communication. I invited three guests to share their stories and then answer questions from the room. They were Jonathan Phillips from Coca-Cola Enterprises on bringing their intranet to life via mobile, Wendy Jordan from The Wheatley Group who spoke about how her intranet, Holmes, gives every employee a voice, and Linda Mortimer who spoke about introducing Yammer at Gatwick Airport.

You can see all the speakers via this Twitter list I’ve created.

What about the dogs?
HarknessKennett are currently celebrating their tenth birthday and pledged to donate £10 to Canine Partners for every completed balloon dog on the day. I was taught how to make one and am pictured with mine on this page.

Canine Partners were there in person along with a number of their dogs, who were a big hit. Representatives from the charity gave a presentation on the importance of communication and trust in the fantastic work they do and demonstrated some of their skills. You can find out more about them via their website.

What did I learn?

  • I enjoyed meeting other IC pros face-to-face, particularly people I’ve communicated with online for a while because it was good to match people with profiles and talk properly. (Hello in particular to all the IC pros who came to #thebigyak and made a point of saying hi)
  • Workshops were a brilliant way to hear from new voices and people who I haven’t heard present before. Although it was hard to be everywhere you wanted to be!
  • The provided iPads worked well to ask questions and capture notes. I also found them a useful way to receive/send private messages to people in the room
  • There was a collective sense that the future of IC is a bright one, that roles are changing and the world of work is too. For me, it underlined the importance of events like this to not only enable people working in internal communication to keep up with what’s happening, but to meet with like-minded professionals.

Slides from the main room presentations can be seen here:

Want to know what the workshops covered? Check out the slides from the morning and afternoon below:

Storify by Katie Marlow featuring all the tweets, vids and photos

Video round-up of the day:

Vine from the conference of the artwork by Creative Connection:

What’s next from CIPR Inside?
The annual conference may be over but there’s still lots going on.

Upcoming CIPR Inside events include Ask the Guru – Helping employees cope with change, on 29 October in London.

The description states: We live and work in a world full of change. Businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes have to adapt to survive. Helping employees cope with change looks set to offer practical advice. Attendees will hear about real life examples of how communications and employee engagement can help employees cope with the changes that an organisation faces.

Speakers are Lisa Sibley – Employee Engagement Manager at Essex County Council, winners of the Best employee engagement programme at last year’s #insidestory awards, and Christine Crofts, ‎Head of Group Internal Communications at Aviva.

You can find out more information and tickets here.

A recent CIPR Inside webinar on ‘Social media – making it work in your organisation’ is available on demand for CIPR Inside members.

The CIPR internal communication diploma and CIPR internal communication certificate are currently enrolling.

You can follow the group on Twitter @CIPRInside, find them on PinterestFacebookYouTube and join the discussions on LinkedIn.

Post author: Rachel Miller

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