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Internal Communications Conference Chair perspective: Cementing our professional position

The way we work is changing rapidly. Our people are becoming more mobile with access to more and more sophisticated technology. The way we communicate with our people must also change as organisations grapple with the challenges thrown up by the seismic changes in the way we work.

That was the context for a fast-paced day of case studies and, yes, some much-needed therapy as we came together as passionate internal comms practitioners eager to learn from each other’s successes and fails.

I was proud to be invited to chair the conference in my role as IoIC board chair and looked forward to picking up some golden nuggets to take back to my day job.

With so many great ideas shared, I’m sure everyone will have taken away different things but my top three were:

  • How a culture set by default to ‘open internally; secret externally’ is driving collaboration at Shopify so that everyone is in the know and connected;
  • How personalisation is making everyone feel loved and treating people as individuals at Ovo Energy
  • How there’s no substitute for walking the walk and putting yourself in the frontline’s shoes at Formica to re-engage and build trust.

I also felt some clear themes running through the day which show how far we’ve come as a profession and left me feeling fresh and inspired even after 20 years in the game!

I believe that internal communications (and its close sibling, employee engagement) is a business of relationships. We are by nature a very human function. Whilst we heard a lot about the enabling role of technology, it never took the place of of people-focused interaction  and the many supporting activities and channels, of which technology is just one element.

We heard how internal comms professionals have cemented their positions as trusted advisors at the heart of their organisations – whether in public or private sector; education, housing, manufacturing or retail environments.

The many excellent case studies presented also reinforced my belief that internal comms is about making connections. The first connections we think about are forging alignment between strategy and action; between top level goals and individual level contributions. We also heard how our relationships with other functions like HR, IT and Marketing is vital both to ‘get things done’ and to build a consistent employer brand.

But there’s another sort of connection that was in clear evidence. And that’s about connecting with each other as peers, to share ideas and support each other through the challenges we all share.

As IoIC chair I was encouraged to see so many people taking the time to invest in their network and their career development. Continuing professional development is vital as internal comms matures as an industry and a day absorbing and reflecting on new ways of working is always time well spent.

In short, the conference proved how internal comms and engagement are critical in driving competitive advantage and enabling business success. Thank you to everyone who contributed and showed how you approach our shared objectives of informing, inspiring and involving employees.

Kate Jones

IoIC Board Chair and Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs, Tarmac

@how_IC_it