106 Communications

6th Sense

Strategic Internal Communications: sucking eggs, break-outs, bad news and branding…

January 2016 | Culture, Internal Communications

Towards the end of last year, we popped along to an Internal Comms Conference hosted by PR Week. Henry was on the bill, talking about the power of storytelling. You can download his presentation here.

There were a number of things that struck us during the day.

The value of Internal Comms – the panel discussion with a group of (male) Heads of Corporate Comms discussed the importance of Internal Comms. If ever you want to teach grandma to suck eggs, get a recording of this. Surely as comms professionals, we should be able to build a case for internal comms – otherwise we’re all out of a job or out of business.

Video – we saw how emotive video can be (thanks to the guys at Kaptcha). It can tell a story in a powerful way; it’s quick to watch; and it’s the way people are consuming information today (just ask my 13-year-old daughter). The real trick here is how to get colleagues to generate their own content. (See our case study on Accenture Stories for more about that.)

Bad news – we don’t always have good news to tell employees, and it is important to be honest and transparent.  Anna Bowen from Pearson talked about one specific example – the axing of the big Christmas party and instead providing a £15 allowance per person.  On the NEO platform internally, sentiment went from ‘how could you?’ to ‘we can find creative ways to celebrate Christmas ourselves’.  A good news story out of all the bad…

Break-out sessions – one of the best parts of the day was when break-out sessions were hosted after lunch on a range of topics. It gave everyone a chance to talk, connect, discuss and disagree – and there were lots of great ideas, content and experiences. Any conference organisers, please take note.

Networking – How do you encourage networking at a conference like this, where there are some suppliers (either with stands or without), and a vast number of practitioners? I think conferences should do more to encourage more networking, especially for those who aren’t confident doing it.

Employer Branding – I have yet to see a case study where employer branding isn’t simply recruitment comms with a little nod to the internal environment – and this conference was no difference. We saw the Odeon example from the people at Synergy – and they did a good job; but again very much focused on the external world of recruitment . We can call it employer branding; but we all know what it is.

I should also mention some excellent sessions from the Tate Gallery (Vilma Nikolaidou), Adidas (Tony Cooke), Opus Energy (Lynn Morrison) and Pearson (Anna Bowen), plus Heather Wagoner (BBC) on Change and a great contribution from Emily Gibbs (EY) in the panel and on Twitter.  Of course, a special mention goes to the Chair, Julian Hilton-Johnson of McDonald’s.

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