I spent the last couple of days in Brighton at the Institute of Internal Communications annual conference. The theme this year was Agile internal communications but for me the two outstanding presentations were one on the attitudinal differences between generations and one internal comms specialist’s journey to becoming a trusted advisor and regular attendee at board meetings.
The latter, by Saskia Jones (@saskiahjones1) of Oxfam (@Oxfam) was an inspirational story of how to position internal communications as an integral part of the organisation at a strategic level. Given the bee I have in my bonnet about how most IC practitioners underestimate their own potential worth to their organisation and end up essentially just producing and disseminating the messages senior managers feel are appropriate, Saskia’s story was an object lesson in what can be achieved if you have the courage to challenge. Suffice to say that she now has a department of ten (it started as two) despite Oxfam having been through some challenging financial times. Such is the strategic importance of internal communications now to their global operation.
Dean van Leeuwen’s (@deanthefuturist) very entertaining presentation on generational differences also chimed with me. I think in internal comms – or in external comms for that matter – we often segment our target audiences by demographics without spending too much time thinking about how these different groups relate to each other. Externally that might not be too much of an issue in that if you’re trying to influence two different age or gender groups you could use different key messages and media.
But in internal comms you’re in a slightly different position in that your various target audiences actually have to work together. That means they need to talk to each other and, hopefully, actually understand each other! Dean illustrated these differences with the ‘interview’ between the great educationalist, Sir Rhodes Boyson, and Ali G. The interview centred around the subject of caning; for Boyson ‘getting caned’ was capital punishment but for the generation represented by Ali G it means something completely different altogether!
What it means for the internal communications practitioner is that simply creating messages and shovelling them into the various channels available should be the least of your worries, although one that inevitably seems important to senior management. The internal communicator’s role as facilitator and strategic planner is all the more vital when you realise that most senior managers are either from the silent generation or, more likely, the baby boomers and most workers are from gens X and Y. And remember it will only be a couple of years before organisations start employing generation Z!
And for many organisations you also have to think about cultures and languages. (My next internal communications strategy course in a couple of weeks or so is in Dubai where the Boyson/Ali G interview just wouldn’t be appropriate.)
It’s this complexity of interweaving organisational strategy with the challenging relationships of humanity and, increasingly, the use of digital technology that I find so fascinating about internal comms!
Finally, but very importantly, Oxfam are one of the key charities working in Nepal to help the people there following the dreadful earthquake. If you haven’t already donated (and even if you have) please give a wee donation to Oxfam by texting NEPAL5 or NEPAL10 to 70066.
Neil Jones FCIPR is a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communications and experienced trainer both in the UK and the Middle East. In a 40 year career, Neil has worked in public relations and marketing in a wide range of industries from marine electronics to the motor industry. @Cairnstone
The most credible regional awards in the public relations industry, the PRide Awards recognise and reward outstanding work across nine UK regions and nations. They are a celebration of exceptional talent and a reflection of public relations best practice. Only the highest calibre of experts, drawn from the very top of their fields are selected to judge our awards. Winning a PRide Award demonstrates the value of your work to your clients or board and marks you out as an industry leader in your region.
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Last year we received more than 130 entries and 360 industry professionals came together to celebrate the best campaign, strategies and teams of the year. We are looking forward to seeing even more outstanding work in the 2015 awards. There are 24 categories covering multiple disciplines and sectors; find out more and enter here.
Dates for your diary
27 March – Pride Awards open for entry
10 June – Standard entry deadline (6pm)
17 June – Late entry deadline (6pm)
17 July -Shortlist announced
8 October – Scotland PRide Awards dinner, Marriot Hotel, Glasgow
The 2014/15 annual report from the Scotland committee can be viewed as a PDF here.
The draft annual accounts of the CIPR Scotland Group to December 2014 can be viewed as a PDF here.
The Annual General Meeting of the Scotland Group of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) will be held on Tuesday 24th March 2015 starting at 6.30pm. it will take place at The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian on Princes Street. All members are invited to attend and should RSVP by booking a ticket through our Eventbrite page. Rob Brown FCIPR – CIPR President Elect, founding chair of the Social Media Panel and managing partner of communications agency Rule 5 – will be our guest speaker for the evening. Rob will discuss the impact of digital and social channels on the profession. The AGM will consider the following agenda:
- To receive apologies for absence
- To approve the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on Thursday 10 March 2014 (Scotland AGM 2014 Minutes – Draft)
- To consider and adopt the Annual Accounts (to be tabled)
- To receive the report from the Chair of CIPR Scotland Group followed by questions
- Election of Office Bearers. Applications are invited for the position of Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer via the cipr-scotland-agm-2015-committee-nominations-form (Word doc) before noon on Monday 16 March 2015
- Election of new Committee Members (nominations invited as above)
- Chair priorities for 2015/16
- To consider any other business
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