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It started with a hashtag…

If you are a Comms pro who uses LinkedIn and Twitter, you may have spotted #WeLeadComms cropping up on posts in recent weeks.

I wanted to find out more about it, so invited Mike Klein, @mklein818, to write for the All Things IC blog.

Mike is an internal communications consultant and one of the top thought leaders in the communications field. As principal of Changing The Terms consultancy, he says he’s committed to empowering communication professionals with support in strategy, research and content.

An MBA graduate of London Business School, Mike has worked in internal communication for more than 20 years with companies like Shell, Maersk, Cargill, Avery Dennison and easyJet in Europe, and previously managed political campaigns and initiatives throughout the United States.

He recently founded #WeLeadComms to recognise communication leadership, service and contribution, and is based in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Image depicting Mike Klein and the wording it started with a hashtag. The story behind #WeLeadComms

I’ll hand you over…

#WeLeadComms – recognising leadership, empowering professionals, building a global community

It all started with a hashtag. 

Last month, I published my first “shout”, or short profile, under the hashtag of #WeLeadComms

In the first month of #WeLeadComms, 20 women, men and organisations were honoured with the “official” daily #WeLeadComms hashtag and posts on LinkedIn and Twitter. And so far, these posts have generated more than 27,000 impressions.

It’s not a huge amount, but it’s a satisfactory start. It’s also sparked some thinking and questions. To address those thoughts, here are some of mine in return.

Image with the words We Lead Comms

1) Comms is not just IC. But it never was just PR

This isn’t #WeLeadIC for a reason, even though a lot of the honorees are IC-oriented.  

The internal dynamics of organisations has always impacted external messaging, and the advocacy and clarity of employees has always driven messaging internally and externally through word of mouth.  

IC is evolving into an outsized leadership role in the larger comms profession now – witness the recent stint of IC hero Jenni Field at the helm of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

But #WeLeadComms celebrates great leadership and generosity across all disciplines. 

In recognising the outsized role internal communicators play in bringing cohesion, coherence and authenticity to the whole Comms profession, #WeLeadComms also seeks great examples of leadership across the world of Comms – PR, Public Affairs, Crisis, even Investor Relations and other disciplines.

 

Image depicting a Tweet showing #WeLeadComms

2) There are hundreds of communicators, firms, associations and entities that give back

There is only one criteria for inclusion in #WeLeadComms – you or your organisation gives back to the larger profession and community. 

That’s the heart of “leading” in this game.

If you limit your valuable contributions to the people who pay full price – your bosses, your members, whatever, you either earn their recognition or you don’t. 

But if you give back, then you can get recognised here. 

  • Contribution. 
  • Innovation. 
  • Sharing. 
  • Making connections for and with people outside your immediate network. 
  • Helping people find jobs. 
  • Offering free conference slots to the unemployed. 
  • Hosting a great podcast.

It’s ok if you save a good chunk of what you do for your members. But selling time, products or memberships isn’t the same thing as leading.  

At the very least, you need to do both.

Fortunately, there are enough great contributors and leaders to keep the shouts coming for the next year, and that’s just those I’m aware of already. 

3) There is massive interest in learning #WhoLeadsComms

The various shares and tweets celebrating #WeLeadComms shouts have been seen an additional thousands of times since Professor Ana Adi of Quadriga University in Berlin became the first honoree.  

With a mix of backgrounds, disciplines, connections and approaches represented, and participants from all continents except Antarctica,  it’s been possible to build some curiosity in “who’s going to get picked next.”

 

Image depicting text of We Lead Comms nomination.

4) Diversity is coming to life

When seen globally, the communication professions are highly diverse – even if they are less diverse in the US, Europe and Oceania. 

#WeLeadComms is showcasing global pros and organisations to convey the rich diversity our profession embodies, not only in the faces of people who get featured but in their stories and their contributions. 

 

Image depicting We Lead Comms highlighting Sia Papageorgiou

5) A new ecosystem may emerge

By having the one basic (but fundamental) criteria of contribution, a basis is forming for a new ecosystem to emerge as a result of #WeLeadComms – where likeminded firms, practitioners and communities get visibility of each other for the first time. 

As #WeLeadComms continues, the opportunities to build a new, global, philosophically compatible comms marketplace and network – built on a foundation of generosity and contribution – gathers strength.

We Lead Comms highlighting Shweta Kulkarni van Biesen

6) Rethinking organisations and communities in the Comms space

There are a lot of organisational models in the Comms space at the moment, from full-dues operations like IABC, PRSA and CPRS, to fee-paying online platforms like ICology and even some dues-free groups like the Czech Republic’s Inko Club and various LinkedIn and Facebook groups around the world.. 

Whether they all survive in their current form is anyone’s guess. But one missing link is that little thought has been given to how they can and should interact with each other, and how individual communications pros can be well served by having access to the best free, sponsored, and paid offerings out there. 

By sharing exceptional offerings and personalities from many sources – associations, platforms and communities – #WeLeadComms wlll help professionals find the perfect mix for them and their needs.

Image with text of We Lead Comms nomination, highlighting the Institute of Internal Communication

This is perhaps the ninja piece #WeLeadComms brings to the table.  

#WeLeadComms, at the end of the day, is just a hashtag with an associated LinkedIn page, initially powered by my personal contact list. No dues, no heavy infrastructure, no organisational politics.  

By featuring organisations and individuals that give back, regardless of their ownership or sponsorship structure, a much broader range of resources becomes visible to those who seek them. 

As #WeLeadComms grows, it’s my intention that the nominations and recognition come from other folks who’ve been honoured, and from those who are following the daily flow of “shout outs.” That’s what will ultimately turbocharge the “We” and the “Lead” in #WeLeadComms.

And it’s my hope that raising awareness among likeminded people – of new connections, resources and opportunities – will spark some new conversations and movement in our space.

Do you want to “join” #WeLeadComms?  Start by following the #WeLeadComms LinkedIn page and we can take it from there.

Do you know of a colleague, thought leader, association chapter or community that warrants a #WeLeadComms shout? Send me a direct message.

Post author: Mike Klein

Thank you Mike, I love seeing Comms pros recognised for their hard work.

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