On 6th and 7th November, I attended the annual PR Week Strategic Internal Comms Conference in London as a speaker and as a guest. Discover the secret for communicating change effectively everyday with my highlights and key lessons.
Speakers included Rose Riera from Siemens, Sara Luker from The Trainline, Simon Garcia from HSBC, Fran Chambers, Director of Internal Comms for BUPA, Rhian Moor from Grest Western Railway, Jackie Le Fevre from Magma Effect, Jo Bleasdale from BT Consumer, Louise Creighton, Comms and engagement manager at Anchor, Amanda Atkinson from Salesforce, Jessica Latimer from Sky, Richard Walden from Heathrow, Dan Corfield, Corporate and Digital Comms Director, Hilton, Mark Covell, Head of Corporate Comms, Bournemouth University, Rachel Mason, Internal Comms manager, Wellcome Trust, David Bowles, Director of Comms, RSPCA, Jennifer Thomas, Head of Internal Comms, Direct Line Group, Chloe Foy, Strategist, Synergy Creative, Katherine Bradshaw, Head of Comms, Institute of Business Ethics and me!
Behind the scenes: I prepared a pack for each participant. Many told me that they would directly apply what they had learnt in my session when they returned to their job after the conference. Easy to do when you have thought about the strategy and have all your notes ready.
Here are some highlights and key lessons.
On Sparkling Conversations, from Rose Riera, VP Employer Branding and Social Innovation at Siemens
- How do you tell stories that have impact?
- How do you ensure that you are clear when you communicate?
- How can you be a future maker?
- Change the colour palette, font and tone and voice.
On Values, from Jackie Le Fevre, Director at Magma Effect
- How can you use values to support transition?
- How can you explain where your values come from?
- How do you achieve resonance with your colleagues?
On Ethics, from Katherine Bradshaw, Head of Internal Communication at the Institute of Business Ethics
- Transparency – Do I mind others knowing what I’ve decided?
- Effect – Who does my decision affect or hurt?
- Fairness – Would my decision be considered fair by those affected?
On Mergers and Acquisitions, from Madeleine Porter, Group Head of Internal Communications at Ladbrokes Coral
- Every question you receive from employees will ultimately link back to ‘Have I still got a job’?
- Don’t take your eye off the Business as usual (BAU) while focusing on change.
- There’s never a perfect time to communicate during change; sometimes you have to press on.
- Borrow with pride – if you’re facing change, speak to others in your industry, attend conferences and learn from what other colleagues have done successfully.
On Audits, from Rhian Moore, Head of Internal Communication at Great Western Railway (GWR)
- Be brave and get some stats.
- Know the bigger picture you’re supporting.
- Understand what your exec team want.
- Work out what is important and measure it.
- Do something with the data you collate.
- Use data to prove delivery.
- Don’t let measurement be a one-off.
On Storytelling and Neuroscience, from Suzanne Ellis, Director at Lansons
- With every story there is a purpose.
- Stories do not have to be long to have an impact.
- Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end.
- Which neurotransmitters are you using? Serotonin (you feel happy and good about life), Oxytocin (you connect emotionally, creating feeling of empathy, sadness or warmth) and Dopamine (you are in suspense and want to find out what happens next).
- Which emotion are you triggering?
- Which words will you use to stimulate senses?
- What visuals will you use?
- What’s your story plot?
- How do you want your story to be consumed?
- Have you kept it simple?
Roundtable working groups were very successful. These were interactive sessions where delegates had the opportunity to work with a group of their peers to solve an internal communication challenge. Each of the five themed tables was headed by a group leader (and I was one of them) who introduced the scenario and led the discussion. It was a great opportunity for delegates to share their experience and learn from others.
The challenge to solve when I was chairing the roundtable groups was ‘How do you navigate around confidential/restricted info during change such as mergers or rebrands?
- Is it better to have a seat at the table or to have simply a decent amount of notice when you navigate change?
- Explain the importance of why it is confidential.
- Plan a comms strategy with constant communication going out (e.g. Q&A).
- Find champions and ambassadors.
- Organise change agent training.
- Ensure that external and internal comms are aligned in their messages and strategy.
- Set up some guidelines (e.g. social media policy).
- Give people channels for negative feedback.
I was proud to be a speaker at the conference. It was Rachel Miller who encouraged me to apply to be a speaker. Next thing I knew I was a speaker and a Chair for the Roundtable.
On what to read: ONE report and FIVE books to read
Ethics at Work 2018 Survey of Employees makes a fascinating read. It has a lot of statistics, infographics and research. Taking the ‘ethical temperature’ of an organisation is not an easy task. What struck me for example is that 24% of UK employees have been aware of misconduct at work, the most common misconduct they noticed are people treated inappropriately, unethically (48%), bullying or harassment (40%), safety violations (35%).
Suzanne Ellis, Director at Lansons, reminded us of one book to read ‘Why do we do what we do?.
I referred to 4 books in my presentation:
- John Kotter ‘Leading Change’
- Willian Bridges ‘Managing Transitions’
- Chris Widener ‘The Art of Influencing’
- Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey ‘Immunity to change’
It was really great to meet with so many experts and to discuss common interests, to share ideas, and to support each other. I look forward to attending future events with PRWeek.
Join my 2019 Masterclasses now to benefit from my 2018 prices next year.
If you prefer to work on a VIP 1-to-1 programme with me, then book a call with me.