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Podcast: Being Candid with Matt Batten

Matt Batten is Director of Communications and Engagement at the Diocese of Llandaff, which is part of the Church in Wales.

I invited him to be the first guest on my Candid Comms podcast. He shared some brilliant insights, which I know other in-house internal communicators will enjoy.

During our candid conversation, which gave me goosebumps(!), we discussed:

* How to create a digital strategy
* The impact COVID-19 had on Matt’s Comms plans
* Working successfully with leaders – including a Bishop
* How to build community
* What being candid means to Matt
* His advice for other in-house internal communicators
* Plus his top tips on measurement.

It’s available to listen to below or via your favourite podcast player including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean.

Matt Batten and Rachel Miller

Thank you Matt for being such a great guest. You can find him on LinkedIn or @CommsGuyMatt on Twitter.

Thank you to my Producer Debbie West of Seren Creative.

Further reading: How to recover from setbacks – by Matt Batten.

The episode is available to listen to below or via your favourite podcast player including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean.

Please do rate, review and subscribe, so other internal communicators can find the show.

Transcript of episode five: Being Candid with Matt Batten, by Rachel Miller, Director, All Things IC.

Rachel Miller:

On today’s episode, I’m excited to introduce the very first guest to the Candid Comms podcast. And when I was thinking about who I wanted to join me in conversation to talk about all things internal comms related, the number one name on my list was Matt Batten.

I’m going to hand you over to Matt to introduce himself. Matt, welcome to the show.

Matt Batten:

Well, thank you very much. The first guest, this is also exciting and slightly feeling the pressure right now as well, so.

Rachel Miller:

Oh, don’t feel the pressure.

Matt Batten:

Oh, thank you so much. I’m Matt Batten. I work for the Church in Wales in the Diocese of Llandaff and I’m the Director of Communication and Engagement. I’ve been there for, it’s coming up to two years.

Rachel Miller:

Is it-

Matt Batten:

Which I can’t-

Rachel Miller:

… Two years?

Matt Batten:

I know because I remember messaging you saying, “I’ve seen this job come up. I think I’m going to go for it.” And you were like, “You really have to, you really worked hard to get to this point.” So two years, I just can’t believe it.

Rachel Miller:

Goodness, and what a time to be working in comms in the church when everything has changed, right?

Matt Batten:

Everything.

Rachel Miller:

One of the reasons I really wanted to get you onto the show is because as you know it’s called Candid Comms, I think having an honest and open conversation about communication is so important. I’m fascinated by the work that you’ve been doing and the changes that you’ve seen over the last year or so. I wonder whether you can talk to us about maybe what your role is day-to-day and then maybe how it shifted as a result of 2020.

Matt Batten:

It really has shifted an awful lot. I think before, if we were recording this say two years ago, nobody was really that interested in church comms, it was probably just press releases and a little bit of social media. But when I joined two years ago, it was at a time when the diocese was going through a massive change. And you realise that going to church is not the top of everyone’s priorities anymore, you realise you really, really need to do something quite radical.

Matt Batten:

So we had a new bishop, Bishop June. She came in working with us to develop a vision. And that vision was all about a different way, a fresh way of communicating and engaging. She knew she didn’t want a press secretary. What she wanted was someone who does engagement. So with my background in theology, plus my enthusiasm for comms and experience in that field, I was brought in then to lead the communication and engagement. What I find interesting looking back though is, as much as digital was included in the job description, the reality when I joined was that this was not a culture that was apt for digital.

Rachel Miller:

That’s interesting. Why? What was the culture like?

Matt Batten:

The culture was print. The culture was newsletters in the pews in the church and the magazine, which is our quarterly magazine that would go out, which would have all the news in. We had a website, we put some stuff on the website, as you do. And we had social media, which we would just retweet other people’s content and Facebook, which was just-

Rachel Miller:

So not doing original content on Twitter, just sharing, amplifying other voices?

Matt Batten:

Yeah. It was an echo chamber for everyone else. So why would you follow us? Because we’re not having a conversation with you. Great. We’ll retweet you, but after a while you might as well go and follow that other channel than us. We’re not talking to you. We’re not talking to the people who go to our church.

Rachel Miller:

When you saw that, did you go, “Wow, I want to get stuck in here. And [crosstalk 00:04:28].”

Matt Batten:

100%. Yeah. That’s, I mean, in my naivety that’s what I thought was what they wanted me for the get-go. And what I discovered was while I am embracing digital and social and videos and really looking through my toolkit of things that we use as communicators to tell our story.

What I realised was there was a massive nervousness about digital and a lot of that came down to, “But our people aren’t on social media. They don’t do digital. They’re a lot older. So you need to draw back from all the social media that you’re doing.” A lot of that came down to the age range of people who go to church who are older. But my argument is that the NHS know that they can’t reach the older demographic through social, but they know they can reach the carers, the mothers, the fathers, the cousins, the daughters, they target them with that information. Why don’t we do the same?

Matt Batten:

So yes, I’m not saying we get rid of print. So what I did was say, I’m going to bring digital up to the same level as print in year one. That’s what I’m going to do.

Rachel Miller:

Love it.

Matt Batten:

Nothing scary. Nothing scary. Don’t worry about them. You can still have our traditional channels. I’m not here to stamp all over your newsletters, I am here to bring digital up to the same level and give it the same respect. Then when everyone’s comfortable, you start doing a little bit more and print, then perhaps isn’t the primary channel, but its unique channel. Then COVID comes along. So now suddenly my push on digital, I’m pushing an open door was before I wasn’t, COVID advanced our digital culture tremendously.

Rachel Miller:

Could you quantify that? Could you by a number of months, by a number of years? Could you possibly gauge that do you think?

Matt Batten:

Yes. Because I had a strategy. So I had a three-year strategy of what I was going to achieve in those three years. The first year was sorting out our channels, being clear on our audience. All the basics that we do as internal comms professionals, knowing who we’re targeting. And I’m looking at the data and making those decisions. Then year two was starting to be a little bit more creative with how we tell our story. Year three was starting then to look at how do we upscale our priests, our volunteers, our office team, so that we’re not the ones doing all the comms? We’re enabling more of our people and we just curate it.

So basically I had to scrap about 18 months of strategy out of the window and do it within eight days.

Rachel Miller:

Wow.

Matt Batten:

But Rachel, think about when lockdown happened originally, it was a couple of days before Holy Week.

Rachel Miller:

Of course.

Matt Batten:

Now you don’t have to be a Christian to know that there are two major festivals in the church calendar. That’s going to be Holy Week and Easter, and Christmas. The fact that we then have to do digital and go online within eight days of Holy Week was a massive challenge. And at the same time, the new website was launching because we had to advance that as well to host all that we-

Rachel Miller:

Oh my goodness.

Matt Batten:

… Needed to do. Holy Week in the church is a busy time, add COVID and the anxiety and the mourning, that was difficult for people because it’s not just a building. The emotion that is tied up to going to church is quite incredible for some people who over the older generation, that is their only contact that they will have that week. How do you replicate that online?

Rachel Miller:

Oh, you given me goosebumps [crosstalk 00:08:36].

Matt Batten:

But it’s true.

Rachel Miller:

It’s an emotional place, isn’t it? This emotional connection. So I think you don’t have to be a Christian to be able to see, I guess, for any denomination if you think about your place of worship, it’s a community. It’s your place where you go, where you, maybe you feel a sense of belonging.

Matt Batten:

Exactly.

Rachel Miller:

Where you see friends and you see the people who matter. And we were talking just before we started recording about, we miss the hugs. I miss the hugs. I miss seeing people in person and giving them big bear hugs. It’s that physical contact and connection, isn’t it? And particularly through the lens of Holy Week, you’re right. That’s when we come together.

Matt Batten:

It really is. I mean those two seasons are when traditionally more and more people will go to church. Some for the first time, others just haven’t got into the habit for a long time, but feel a call to go into church. My role is more than just communicating a story or a fact. It is very much about communicating an emotion, a very spiritual emotion for some, for some, community, or friends.

So that was a challenge. And the fear, I think for a lot of people in the decision-making body of the church is, it’s not the same as in person. And I’m like, “No, it’s not. It isn’t, lets be honest. It’s not going to be the same, but it can be different and it’s not going to be forever. So why don’t we tell their story of what this means to them?” And that was my approach with comms through COVID was essentially find the voices of the people this is impacting and tell their story. And it’s been quite a challenge to reach an audience, but we’re seeing a-

Rachel Miller:

That’s a massive understatement there. I feel like you’re being so humble. Cards on table Matt, but-

Matt Batten:

Okay.

Rachel Miller:

This is candid, we’re being candid.

Matt Batten:

Okay. Okay.

Rachel Miller:

How difficult has it been really?

Matt Batten:

Incredibly difficult. I’ll be honest with you that first year I worked all the hours. And I don’t think you’d go into a job where you care so much about what you’re doing without being willing during a time of crisis to put a bit of self-sacrifice behind it.

Because I was hearing those stories. I was hearing about priests who their whole life is doing church on a Sunday and every morning. That’s just been ripped from them. And now we’re saying, “Oh, wouldn’t it be good if you went online?” We’ve never asked that of them before.

I’d spend most of my time coaching people over the phone, re: how to set up your mobile phone. The first three weeks I was like, “Don’t even worry right now about having all the right tech, just be comfortable that you’re live streaming. And it could just be your face right now. And you’re talking to your audience. Build on that over time.”

Matt Batten:

It is emotional, but some of the things is also really funny. Like Father Andrew live streaming from his church, a Eucharist service and the camera falls over. Or Bishop June this when she’s saying a prayer and the dog comes running and barking past her. And we tell the funny stories of behind the scenes, because we’ve all been there.

Rachel Miller:

Love it. That’s so applicable for in-house internal communicators in any role.

I think getting our leaders comfortable being uncomfortable, showing up on camera, doing things that they’ve never had to do before and particularly to do by themselves because we normally sweep in with the kit, right? We set it up and then we point and shoot, and actually hard to get our leaders to build up their own skills and capabilities in terms of showing up, being visible, being on camera, and that might not be comfortable for them. And it might not be what they’re used to. So thinking about your target audience now as being congregations, what’s the impact being to have that visible leadership and have that shift to digital, what’s it meant for your people?

Matt Batten:

The impact of seeing Bishop June so accessible has been quite wonderful to see.

And I can see that from the comments that we get on Facebook and Twitter and the emails that she receives and the letters she receives as well. What I did with Bishop June was not overuse her because it’s so easy when you’re leaders, isn’t it? Just to plunk them in front of a camera for every single message and think that’s what everyone wants to hear.

Rachel Miller:

So true.

Matt Batten:

I’m very careful with what I say I think we need to do. With Bishop June, I understand her style now because I spent a lot of time in my first couple of months meeting with her every month, just literally listening, listening to what moves her, what she’s passionate about. So I know then when something comes up, I can say, “This is really right for you.”

Matt Batten:

A good example of that would be for a domestic violence campaign we ran last year. I did not know the history of Bishop June at all. This is a great example as well of how a leader has become comfortable.

Before she didn’t do any mobile phone video stuff. I came in, I did it. This last couple of months she’s been doing it herself. She’s bought a Rode mic, she’s Dropboxing and sending stuff to me at all hours. I’m like, “I can’t keep up. You’re like a video machine Bishop! Slow down, come on now.” But she did this story of her experience of domestic violence as a child and the impact of her father and on her mother and herself. She did it sat on her stairs, leaning into the camera, telling a story. I mean, that’s authentic comms right there.

Rachel Miller:

You can’t fake that, can you? That’s-

Matt Batten:

You cannot fake it.

Rachel Miller:

You feel the difference don’t you, when you’re someone who makes you want to listen and it makes you… Because it’s not scripted and polished and perfect. It’s raw, isn’t it? I think some of the best leadership communication is that when it’s so raw and that’s obviously an incredibly tough subject as well.

Matt Batten:

A really tough subject and tough for someone in her position to share her story publicly, because it goes out on our channels, but it gets picked up by the church in Wales and other channels who are hearing that story. And suddenly your comms is relatable. Suddenly you’re more than just going to church on a Sunday. You’re about, “I understand this is an issue here in the society, and I want to do something about it.” It’s very easy for churches to see social media as marketing tools, to just put their message out and say, “Come to church.” Or why don’t you tell the story of the people go to church instead?” Because-

Rachel Miller:

Peer to peer, isn’t?

Matt Batten:

It totally is and this is internal comms.

So people might be wondering, why am I talking about congregation? Isn’t that public? But it’s not because think of them as your advocates.

For me, my external comms are the people who perhaps are not coming into church or on the fringes of church. But my internal comms are the ones who go to church. They’re the ones who are volunteers. They’re our office staff. They are clergy. They’re the ones who are going to take this message and share it with their friends and family and their communities.

And so to see Bishop June tell that story and have people share that, suddenly church is opened up to an external audience on an issue that’s not exclusively about your core business.

Rachel Miller:

That’s so poignant, isn’t it?

Matt Batten:

It’s beautiful when you tell a story like that.

Rachel Miller:

You can’t beat hearing a leader in their own words. I think we’d like to think that we were great writers when working internal comms and lots of us are ex journalists and we’ve been brought up in the profession as writers. But actually there are times where you need to trust your leaders to give them the confidence I think that their words are enough and their words are right. And sometimes it’s not for us to tell them what to say. I think probably most times, it’s not for us to tell them what to say. We can give them guidance and talking points, or I’m a fan of the bullet points. You’re giving that flexibility within boundaries and the boundaries particularly for change communication, where you’re giving them a bit of a steer, but actually where the richness and variety of good, effective internal comms happens for me is that, and we overuse the word authentic, I think in internal comms.

Rachel Miller:

I think it’s got to the point where we want everything to be authentic and if it’s not, everyone knows the difference. But I think it’s just setting your leaders up for success and giving them the opportunity to be themselves and be human, be relatable, maybe relatable rather than authentic is what we need.

Matt Batten:

I think you’re right. And I think it’s very easy, particularly in hierarchical organisations. So take the fact away that she’s a Bishop because everyone’s pretty got their own version of what a bishop is like. Strip away all of that and just think of it in terms of a hierarchical organisation, it takes an awful lot of courage to put yourself out there. Because you’ve then got to go into meetings and not be the vulnerable person that perhaps you’ve seen on a video. You’ve still got to deliver a tough message. But I think that then becomes easier when you’ve seen your leader as not being put up on a pedestal. You’ve put them in a, the just like you and me kind of situation.

Rachel Miller:

Is beyond the robes. Isn’t it? I think-

Matt Batten:

Yes.

Rachel Miller:

… As I think about-

Matt Batten:

Oh that’s a good one. Can I nick that one?

Rachel Miller:

Yeah. Go for it.

Matt Batten:

Okay. I’m loving that. So I tell you what that might be the name of my autobiography, “Matt Batten, Beyond the Robes”.

Rachel Miller:

Oh amazing.

Matt Batten:

I’d have to be ordained before that one works, but I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen.

Rachel Miller:

I think, oh, you never know. Never say never, Matt.

Matt Batten:

Never say never.

Rachel Miller:

I think the key bit for me when I’m thinking about leaders, it’s beyond the job title. It’s not them as CEO or managing director or president, whatever they are. It’s about beyond what their business card says or emails says nowadays, it’s just that same mindset, right? Of how can we shine a light on them as the person?

Matt Batten:

Yeah. I wouldn’t want any leader to come across as being untouchable. That they’re so hierarchical or people are perceiving them to be untouchable, unable to get to them with a message or to have a conversation with them. Because I think that’s really old-fashioned sort of leadership style. Isn’t it? If you’ve put them and you’ve created barriers and I think-

Rachel Miller:

The corner office, isn’t it? It’s the kind of the shiny ivory tower corner office syndrome rather than sleeves up on the front line matching in with the troops.

Matt Batten:

Yeah. Exactly.

Rachel Miller:

I know what I prefer.

Matt Batten:

Totally. It’s about respect as well, isn’t it? If you see someone who gets what your challenges are, then you’re more likely to respond with those extra favours, or you’re going to go that bit further to do a piece of work because you see something in them that you respond well to. And I think as communicators, it’s very much about finding the sweet spot of your leadership team and saying, “I’m going to use you for this one, but I’m not going to use the chief exec, for example, because that’s not going to work as well.” And that’s where I am. I think with some of my comms, it’s not always going to be the Bishop. It doesn’t always need to be.

Rachel Miller:

The story around how you went into the job and spent time listening and learning and getting to know the leaders… I think it’s so relatable for internal communicators and how we need to work with leaders.

In a previous episode, I focused on how to work successfully with leaders.

Candid Comms with Rachel Miller

I think everything you’ve said though, is so important about getting to know their communication style and their preference.

So you know when to, I say, use always feels like a wrong word to use, but it’s kind of, we know when to pull on them in terms of this is appropriate for you for these types of employees or, you know what, it doesn’t always have to be you, it can be… A good effective leadership in an organisation for me is where your CEO or or the Bishop in your case, just seem to kind of hand down and trust that next layer down.

That’s often who people relate with because that person in the very highest rank feels untouchable and they feel too senior. And therefore not as relatable as their immediate local management.

Matt Batten:

Exactly.

Rachel Miller:

I’ve got some questions for you.

Matt Batten:

Of course.

Rachel Miller:

So I would love to ask you a key piece of learning that has stayed with you or shaped the way you communicate.

Matt Batten:

Oh, the one thing that resonates with me that my very first coach ever said to me, she said to me, “Matt, why would you go into a meeting and not know who your allies are?”

That piece of advice is the best thing I have ever, ever heard. And I remember the situation because it was my first senior role. So I had to present a paper about customer experience to the executive team of the organisation I was there. And I was really nervous. It’s the lion’s den kind of stuff. At that level of my career, I was always one of the team. So I thought I need a coach. I said to her, “Look, I’ve got a present.” And I knew she was going to be there as well.

Matt Batten:

And she goes, “All right, so who’s your allies?” And I said, “Oh, I don’t know.” And she said “Oh, there you go. Why would you go in cold to that meeting and not know what are the people thinking?” And I was like, “Well, how do you find that out?” And she said, “Well, have you phoned anyone there? Have you phoned any of those leaders? Any of those directors up and said, I’m presenting a paper. Can I run it by you because I’ve never done this before?” And I said, “No.” And she said, “Well, there you go.” And I said, “well, that would be easy!”

Rachel Miller:

I love that.

Matt Batten:

I know. Of course she says: “They’re human.” She said, “It would be a really bad person who says, no, I’m going to let you suffer.” And she goes, “And if they do, you don’t want anything to do with them.” It’s like, “Oh right. Okay.” So-

Rachel Miller:

That’s great advice. I love that.

Matt Batten:

Isn’t that great advice? So that’s what I do now.

Every time I go into a meeting, I think, who’s my allies? And if I don’t know, then I’m going to talk to them just to guess, just to find out what’s on their mind.

Rachel Miller:

Great. Okay. Have a question for you on measurement. We love a measurement question! How do you approach measurement or what insights can you share about measuring the outcomes? And you know I’m a big fan of outcomes, not outputs in comms.

Matt Batten:

Yes.

Rachel Miller:

How do you do that in reality?

Matt Batten:

Oh measurement. Honestly, I remember, I think having this conversation with you at a conference and saying everyone talks about measurement in internal comms, but it feels like the scariest thing in the world, until you just start measuring, and then it’s not, because it’s not scary. It’s just data that tells you the answer to your problems.

Measurement is hugely important for what I do because I communicate other people’s projects, campaigns etc. So an example for me is every three months we do social media reports and also website reports so I know who’s hitting what targets. What I’ve noticed is a team that were making a lot of videos. For example, they put a lot of effort into it and the drop-off is 30 seconds. And I’m like, I need to have a conversation with you about it because you’re wasting your time actually and it could be done better.

Matt Batten:

So for me, I use measurement to be able to make better decisions. And I use measurement to improve the way I communicate. And I use measurements to suggest different ways of doing things, even on my own work really easy thing to do is to point your camera and film. But if that’s not working for your audience, look at your data. And then I realised my intro of 20 seconds might have been the best thing I have ever created, but then everyone’s switching off because it’s too long. Like I drop the intro, get straight to your point. And then that’s the level of success measurement can have.

Matt Batten:

I get a lot of people in the church world and where I work, who don’t understand necessarily what outcomes and outputs are. So I’ve had to be really quite strict when someone will say to me, just done this amazing video and then present how great it was and tell everyone how great it was. And I’m like, but what was the outcome?

What was the outcome of that particular piece of work? It becomes natural I think for internal comms, the more you do measurement, the more you know it’s not criticism, you’ve got your data to help someone be a better communicator. You’ve got your data to help your company, your organization, to make better decisions. It’s not anything to fear. If something’s not working, that’s probably not your fault because you didn’t know why at the outset, this wasn’t going to work.

Rachel Miller:

I love that. That a peach of a quote for me that this is not criticism. I think there is a fear of measuring. It’s knowing what to measure, knowing how to measure, knowing why we’re measuring and then what happens if it turns out that actually people don’t like our channels? And then there is that sense of criticism. I think that mindset is so important. I think you’ve nailed that. And you’re right. I think it’s the language of measurement and making sure that it makes sense to our people.

Matt Batten:

Yeah. I’m really upfront with it even if some stats don’t look good for something me and the team have produced, I’m all right with that because how can I go and knock on someone’s door and say this video didn’t work if I don’t look at it myself and say, do you know actually that wasn’t the best piece of work you’ve ever delivered. It’s all right. You can do something better next time with the data.

Rachel Miller:

Love it. What does candid comms mean to you?

Matt Batten:

Oh gosh, candid comms. I think for me it means being brave with the feedback you give somebody, it means listening to your audience, listening to what they need, not what you think your boss thinks they need and having a conversation with them about the reality of a situation.

So COVID, for example, and people not being in the same office, I’ve really noticed the tempers get a bit frayed when you’re just bouncing emails and team messages. And as great as digital communications have been for us internally, still presents a challenge as well for team dynamic. And I really noticed at the end of last year, the team wasn’t in a happy place. Nobody was in a happy place. And there was a lot of blame I think, going on, there was a lot of emails that were slightly, you just read into and you’re like, “Oh, someone’s not okay here.”

Matt Batten:

And so I started having conversations with people about what’s going on and why are things the way they are. So I went to my boss and I said, “I’m really noticing that the team are feeling a bit down that we’re coming to the end of the year. And I think this has gone on long enough. And we need now to come back as a team because we’ve been under pressure a lot.” And so I presented that to my boss who was also under a lot of pressure as well. So you just think, “Oh, I’m adding to his burden.” But going and having a candid conversation to say, “This is what’s happening. This the impact of some of the decisions that are being made, this is the impact and this is the reality.” But instead of just bringing that to his doorstep, it’s really important if you can have a candid conversation to also suggest a candid solution as well.

Matt Batten:

And that was as easy as why don’t we just go in, organize a meeting, organize a team event and just say, “Look, you’re under pressure.” So humble yourself in front of them and say, “Look, I’m under pressure. You’re under pressure. How can we work together and help each other?” And that’s the level of candid conversation I think is important to me, not just ignoring something when you see trouble is brewing, not leaving it to the absolute crunch point, but going in when you get in a sense that something’s wrong. And just having an honest conversation with your leader and saying, “I think we need to do something about this.” Even if it’s not going to be what they want to hear.

Rachel Miller:

Can I ask you about the impact of that? So what was the result of doing that with the team?

Matt Batten:

Do you know what, normally we would gone out for like Christmas do et cetera. And then I was getting a sense that everyone was really fed up of being online to be honest. So we went to the DBF and said, “Can we just buy everyone instead of the money that would go for a night out, can we just buy them a present?”

Rachel Miller:

What does DBF stand for?

Matt Batten:

Oh gosh, I’m doing that awful thing we do! Diocesan Board of Finance.

Rachel Miller:

Awesome. Thank you.

Matt Batten:

Gosh. I’m glad you picked up on that. So they bought everyone in the office, a present and a lovely, lovely message from the Bishop and from the Chair to say, “You have worked extremely hard this year.” We’ve also introduced different ways of doing team meetings now. A mixture of just dropping in and having a chat, but also doing some of the business stuff as well. We’re looking at the way those meetings, they’re not working. So what can we do now to make them work? And it’s just a bit of, maybe we just push your business all the time. Why don’t we just have a coffee? Last week for the first time I think since lockdown, we all just got together and had a coffee.

Rachel Miller:

What did that feel like?

Matt Batten:

A relief, bizarrely, a relief going into a meeting and not have to perform, with not going and having something on the agenda that you’re leading and just going in and chatting to people, was a relief. And it was lovely. And we had a laugh and I thought, gosh, in between the business focus and the deliverables are a group of people who get on really well, can’t forget that. And I think, unfortunately we did towards the end of the year.

Rachel Miller:

Good on you for having that candid conversation because it led to a positive one. Right?

Matt Batten:

Definitely. Definitely.

Rachel Miller:

So my final question for you, Matt is what one piece of advice can you pass on to other internal comms people? I mean, you’ve given us a whole episode worth, so I’m very, grateful for that, but what one piece of advice would you like people to take away?

Matt Batten:

I think the one piece of advice I would give would be to immerse yourself in the culture of the organisation you work for.

You need to understand the language. You need to understand the positives, where people are anxious about things. You need to know what keeps your leaders awake at night. You need to know your core mission and what you can not deviate from. For me, the core mission is at the heart of everything that we do.

And that is by spending six months of not making any major decisions in my job, but listening, to listen to what is it we want to achieve and summing it up. But you can only do that by being immersed in your organization. And one of the simple things I did, which is not everyone’s cup of tea, surprisingly, the church uses Facebook a lot. So within the first week I must have had every friend request from a cleric I could imagine.

Matt Batten:

And I was a little bit like, “Oh, do I really want them seeing me on a night out and being tagged in photos? I’m not sure I do.” But I created a separate channel and was like, they need to see personal Matt. They don’t need to see everything, but they need to see me on Facebook sharing a little bit about my life because I’m also one of them, I go to church as well. And I’m interested in all this sort of thing. But I did that because I wanted to immerse myself in the culture. I wanted to see what life was like as a cleric. I just traveled around churches, meetings, church halls at seven in the night because that’s when all church meetings happen.

Rachel Miller:

They always have good biscuits as well though.

Matt Batten:

Oh, my goodness, honestly.

Rachel Miller:

A biscuit tour, let’s be honest, that’s what you were doing!

Matt Batten:

It’s literally coffee and biscuits.

Rachel Miller:

Love it.

Matt Batten:

If you’re ever in the church you just know, don’t go to a meeting without a pack of biscuits. They will be your best friend. So immerse yourself in the culture and be one of them.

Rachel Miller:

Awesome.

Matt Batten:

You’re going to win a lot of favours that way.

Rachel Miller:

Brilliant. Matt, thank you so much for your candor today, for all of your advice and guidance that you’ve shared, it’s been super to have you on. Where can people find you online if they want to connect with you?

Matt Batten:

I’m a heavy Twitter user. So I’m on @CommsGuyMatt with two Ts. So feel free to follow me on there. I do Tweet a lot about comms, a lot about internal comms. It’s my favorite subject and a side order of church comms as well. So come along.

Rachel Miller:

Well, Matt, thank you so much. And all of the notes from the show can be found at allthingsic.com/podcast. And Matt, thank you so much. Thank you to everyone for tuning in to this week’s episode. Do find me online @AllThingsIC and let me know what you thought of today’s episode. And remember what happens inside is reflected outside. See you again soon.

 

Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel.

Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 22 February 2021.

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