Internal Comms and the challenges of COVID-19

How has this year been for you? How has it really been?

Internal Communications and the Challenges of COVID-19 conference took place yesterday, hosted by Communicate Magazine. It was a day packed with inspirational ideas, shared experiences and a huge dose of reality.

If I asked you to list the challenges 2020 has presented, we would be here all day!

If you would like to do that, don’t forget my free Online Masterclass How to review 2020 and plan 2021 is still available to enrol in. You can work through it at your own pace and have until 31 December 2020 to access the course.

I watched the conference between calls and enjoyed hearing the stories.

I’m so proud to be part of this profession and to hear first hand how Comms pros have been helping their employees and leaders navigate through the year.

Speakers included Christine O’Brien from British Business Bank as the keynote. The replay is available online.

I spotted IC pro Alyson Davis attended the conference yesterday and invited her to write for the All Things IC blog to share what she heard.

You can find Alyson on LinkedIn and she’s revealed her favourite takeaways from the event.

I’ll hand you over…

Alyson Davis

Sharing the positivity of the Internal Communications profession

The COVID triggered economic downturn has hit many industries resulting in countless mid-to-senior level communication colleagues sadly losing their roles.

A quick peek of LinkedIn demonstrates this, and the effects hit me too as at the end of October my role as Internal Communications Manager at Boots UK was made redundant due to COVID-19. I’ve spoken to many IC practitioners over the last four weeks who are in the same position as me.

Finding new ways to network in lockdown led me to an event hosted by Communicate Magazine, the ‘Internal Communications and the Challenges of COVID-19’ conference.

Internal Communications Conference

Brittany Golob and Christine O’Brien.

The title sounded like the story of my last few months! I attended to remind myself just what I’d been through; and, to take notes from fellow practitioners on how they are heading into 2021 with confidence.

These are just a few of my favourite takeaways.

Internal Comms and the challenges of COVID-19

Some of the Internal Comms and the challenges of COVID-19 speakers.

Creating an IC presence

Firstly, I was surprised to learn that there are still companies that don’t have an IC presence or that the need was only brought on suddenly due to COVID-19. How is this even a thing! Joanna Parsons, Head of IC at An Garda Síochána in Dublin was brought in just over a year ago to create an IC function for the very first time in the forces’ 95-year history!

Mind blown!

COVID has boosted the value of IC in the eyes of many organisations and its leaders, as they try to deliver difficult but key messaging. With the value now uncovered, let’s hope there are not too many companies left without an IC presence in 2021.

Prarthna Thakore, @prarthnathakore, Head of IC at ISG suggested that practitioners have earned their seat at the top table and will be a key role in influencing leaders in 2021, which was great to hear.

Focusing on planning

We need to focus our 2021 planning on embedding purpose, wellbeing and belonging.

There is a desire for colleagues to receive human and positive comms directly linked to their experiences of working for a company.

We need to listen more intently than ever before and should carry on being creative, innovative and using fast-paced channels as the speed of news shows no signs of slowing down.

Managing during COVID-19

The conference highlighted just how jam packed our profession is with excellence. Internal Communications Manager at AXA UK, Steven Murgatroyd, presented a case study on how he has managed IC during Covid-19.

In this, he shared a genuine, human and relatable presentation where he introduced us to baby Harry – who quite frankly stole the show! Steven showed elements of vulnerability that are present in all of us when presenting in meetings and he delighted the audience with his style.

You smashed it Steven!

Steven Murgatroyd


Focusing on fear

I was really pleased to hear IC Executive, Dev Mistry @DeMistryMan from Virgin Media, talk about the ‘Rate My Background Fear’.

Dev spoke passionately about the anxiety of switching the camera on. I wholeheartedly agree. With more colleagues working at home using Teams and Zoom, I heard about colleague’s hatred of their bedroom/kitchen/hallway being seen.

Dev spoke about creating a sense of belonging built on what makes colleague comfortable and hey, if you don’t want your camera on – switch it off.

Good on you Virgin Media.

Virgin Media

It’s been a crazy year for all IC professionals. The support across the profession and amongst each other is clear to see on social platforms, with the sharing of success and good practice at the fore.

Events like this one only reinforces how well our profession has grasped the new normal in communicating.

Our much-respected profession’s leaders, such as Rachel, have spoken up in support and listened to us all year – long may that continue.

Let’s keep watching out for each other as we head into 2021 …and if your team needs an IC and Channels Manager – give me a shout!

Post author: Alyson Davis.

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and your takeaways from yesterday’s conference Ali. Don’t forget the replay is available online.

If you’re a regular reader of my monthly newsletter, The Water Cooler, you’ll know what’s on for Comms pros over the next few months. Not on the list? Add your name to subscribe to my emails.

Upcoming events for Comms pros

You’ll also find events via the What’s on for Comms pros page. If you have an event, you’d like to advertise, please get in touch.

Learn about internal communication with All Things IC

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First published on the All Things IC blog 24 November 2020.

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