Yesterday approx 120 professional communicators gathered in London for the third unconference from The IC Crowd, #thebigyak.

tvby2016I’m so proud of this event.

It’s always a vibrant, stimulating and exciting day and I’m thrilled so many comms pros joined my fellow The IC Crowd @theICcrowd co-founders and I for the day.

Dana Leeson @danaleeson, Jenni Field @jenniwheller and I have been planning this event over the past few months in our spare time and it was a pleasure to transform our ideas into action.

We created the crowd four years ago and everyone is welcome to join it. You can find us on Twitter @theICcrowd or

You cannot beat face-to-face communication and I enjoyed watching people meet in person who had only known each other online, and doing the same myself.

We wanted to create a safe space for comms pros to connect, collaborate and communicate with each other.

It was a chance to come along, ask questions, make new contacts, meet like-minded people and celebrate and improve the wonderful world of internal communication.

It reinforced for me, yet again, why I do what I do. Running All Things IC consultancy and being part of The IC Crowd invigorates and inspires me. Can’t beat that for job satisfaction! It was great to see clients, friends and contacts in person yesterday.

I had such a fun day! My aching feet and full brain are testament to what happened yesterday.

sponsorsThank you to all our sponsors who enabled the unconference to be free for communicators to attend.

We couldn’t have done it without you.

They are: CIPR Inside, Scarlettabbott, Alive with Ideas, 106 Comms, AB, Synergy Creative, Simply-Communicate, Headlines, Gatehouse, Top Banana, theblueballroom, Sequel Group, HarknessKennett, PR Academy and Helen Deverell Communications.

Thank you also to the team of enthusiastic volunteers. From blowing up balloons to hanging bunting and shepherding delegates, you played an important role in helping things run smoothly.

Return of the yak
We first ran #thebigyak in 2013, then again in 2014. It was a pleasure and privilege to bring the yak back for 2016.

We had a change of venue this year, and the team at etc venues in Marble Arch were excellent. Their space became ours for the day. Feedback from delegates will reveal what they thought, but for me it worked well.

What was discussed?

I was surprised to see how the conversations have shifted over the past few years. 2013 was all about enterprise social networks. 2014 was all about how to make them work. 2016 was a return to the fundamental principles of communication.

It was incredibly refreshing and I loved the discussions and questions. I’ve written constantly about the need to not be dazzled by “comms bling” and to make sure you are focused on what you’re trying to achieve in your organisation, rather than have your head turned by the latest shiny thing.

Yesterday reinforced that for me. I ran an All Things IC Masterclass on Thursday and the conversations there were along similar lines.

As The Big Yak was an unconference, delegates set the session topics and hosted them. We had 30 sessions in total throughout the day and our facilitator extraordinaire Benjamin Ellis @benjaminellis once again kept us on track and ensured we were guided throughout the day. Thank you Benjamin.

Topics included:

  • How to work well with leaders
  • Structuring comms teams
  • Measurement and ROI (return on investment) – this was such a big session we ran it twice
  • Reaching remote workforces
  • Professional memberships – are they worth it?
  • Employee surveys
  • ESNs
  • Office 365 and how to make it work for you
  • Storytelling
  • Digital strategy and technology
  • Internal communication strategy
  • Intranet launch – and death of the intranet

I’m going to share a flavour of the day with you from some of the many Tweets.

If you came along, thank you. If you supported us online or sponsored, thank you.

Yesterday was an incredibly rewarding day for me, I learnt so much and can’t wait to put some of my thoughts into action.

A special thank you to my husband Jon for supporting me though the planning of The Big Yak, and for looking after our four-year-old daughter and one-year-old twin sons yesterday.


Here’s some blogs from crowd members:

Here’s what was Tweeted:

Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 18 September 2016.

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