Humans have been storytelling for thousands of years, however it was often confined to the minds of frustrated, penniless novelists and mothers trying to lull their children to sleep.
Not anymore. Big brands are using it to great effect. Take the current DFS advert. They’re not just telling you about the great sofas they have available, they’re showing you real people in the workshops with the skills and enthusiasm to ensure your sofa will arrive before Christmas.
And newspapers and journalists aren’t just delivering the facts, they’re telling us stories of unaccompanied child refugees making their way across Europe and families torn apart by the war in Syria.
I’m not telling you anything new, but it does take some skill to tell a really good story and to identify what one is in the first place. How confident are we as communicators that we can find the story at the heart of the corporate world?
As a member of the CIPR Inside committee, I’ve been involved in planning the next annual conference on 4 October. This year’s theme is Closing the gap. This might mean different things to different people, depending on the organisation you work for and the role you’re in. So, all the committee members are sharing what Closing the gap means to them…
I’ve worked with organisations where the gap between internal and external comms is equivalent to the Grand Canyon. The view has been different audiences, so therefore different responsibilities (and budgets!). But recently, that’s begun to change as organisations are waking up to the power of employee advocacy.
Imagine if Mozart had been so afraid of people’s reactions to his music, that he only ever played it for himself. Or if Shakespeare just got his kids to perform his plays, rather than open himself up to critique from the general public. I’m sure they had moments when they feared failure, but they didn’t allow it to stop them living creatively and sharing it with the world.
I recently read a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic, which looked at how we can all live more creatively. Elizabeth dispels the myths that we all need to be tortured souls willing to sacrifice anything for our art. In fact, all we need is curiosity, courage, passion and the ability to overcome the too-often crippling fear of failure.
Ahead of my writing masterclass in November and my guest spot on #commschat this Monday (18 July) to discuss the importance of writing in internal communication, I’ve put together some top tips to create great copy.
A while ago a friend asked me how many followers I had on Twitter. When I told her, she was surprised and said “but you’re not even famous!”. Now just to set expectation, my followers are currently at a respectable 1,150, so I’m no Taylor Swift, but not too bad for non-famous person.
But what my friend didn’t realise was that it took years to build up to that number. And that it was a conscious effort on my part to blog and tweet on a regular basis about things I thought would be of interest to my fellow internal communicators.
I also went against all my introverted tendencies and attended face-to-face networking events, struck up conversation with people I only knew online and kept in touch with them after.
As an internal communicator, I’m used to being invited to take deep dives off burning platforms or to touch base about shifting paradigms. There is an endless stream of jargon in the world, that shows no sign of abating, despite protestations of the virtues of simple, plain English, and countless memes mocking the language of business.
Language is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal, yet we can be so reckless with how we use it, oblivious to the damage it can cause. And as a lover and protector of the written word, I have been known to have near apoplectic outbursts when it is abused, whether it be jargon, a rogue or missing apostrophe, or finding ‘compliment’ instead of ‘complement’.
But until last year I was blissfully unaware of a different type of language no-no. The language of cancer. As a society we love a bit of war analogy when it comes to cancer. We fight it, we battle it, we beat it and sometimes we lose. Continue reading
Every couple of months I have the same conversation with my colleague Paul Thomas. I really should blog more. It’s been ages since I blogged. I’m going to write a blog tonight on the train. I fell asleep on the train, I literally could not keep my eyes open. I’ll definitely blog at the weekend…
So here I am at the weekend (not the weekend that followed this conversation, but a weekend nonetheless), writing a blog, about writing a blog. It might sound like I’m scraping the barrel for ideas, but bear with me. Continue reading
Let’s face it, who wouldn’t? Rachel Miller has very kindly donated a day’s consultancy and the opportunity to advertise your job vacancy on All Things IC for a whole month (worth £200!) to my crowdfund for the charity CoppaFeel! Continue reading
I wanted to share with fellow introverts an exciting new development from Susan Cain, author of Quiet, which is where my introvert journey started. She is launching the Quiet Revolution, “a community where you can meet like-minded individuals, join together on important advocacy issues, and enjoy cutting-edge content and resources curated for your sensibility.” Continue reading
In this age of social media, there is a running joke that it didn’t really happen unless you posted it on Facebook. All major events of my life have been documented on there: my wedding, my 30th birthday and now my cancer diagnosis.
In November, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I have no family history and of course, I was only 29. For the first few weeks I only told my immediate friends and family, partly because I was still finding out details of my diagnosis and what it meant for my future, and also because I was embarrassed. Who gets cancer in their 20s? Continue reading
Having reached the one year milestone in my first in-house role, I’ve found myself reflecting on what I’ve learnt on the other side of the fence. It has been a huge learning curve, going from advising people on how they should run their internal communication projects in an agency to putting it into practice in an organisation of 4,500 people.
Especially as 4,500 people can make a lot of noise. As all IC pros will know, a big part of the job is dealing with day to day communications while trying to make time for the bigger, more strategic communications. And this is only magnified when you’re still trying to understand the sheer variety of work the people in our organisation deliver and how it all fits together. Continue reading
There’s not many conferences where people happily give up their Saturday to attend and the excitement in the lead up is comparable to going on holiday or Glastonbury. The Big Yak is undoubtedly the conference of the year and last Saturday again proved why.
The agenda less day saw 130 communicators get to the heart of the issues in our organisations and discuss them with honesty, humour and frustration. Many people commented after that it was like therapy – and I have to agree!
The sessions I attended covered a range of meaty subjects that inspired a lot of debate. Some of my key takeaways were: Continue reading
It’s not often you get to while away the afternoon in a TV studio all in the name of work. But that’s exactly what I did when ITN Productions held a workshop on how internal communicators can use TV formats to engage employees.
On the set of The Agenda, we heard from Simon Baker, Head of Corporate and Creative Production at ITN Productions and Lorraine Hambleton, Corporate Video Consultant. Continue reading
Susan Cain, author of Quiet
Having faced accusations of being too quiet or shy for most of my life, I have always assumed it has been an affliction for which I need to apologise. So when I found myself working in internal communications my feelings of hiding a dirty secret were only amplified.
When accepting my first internal communication job, I had naively thought that I would spend my days writing articles, dreaming up campaigns and filming videos. At no point did I think that my personality would come under scrutiny and that my ability to do my job could be quickly undermined if I wasn’t perceived to be outgoing, confident and wildly creative. Continue reading
In keeping with the theme of ‘the future’, I predicted on Twitter that the IoIC annual conference was going to be our best yet (I do admit that as an organiser I did have a bit of an insight, but still), and I wasn’t wrong.
With speakers including Brooke Kinsella, Euan Semple, Linda Moir, Perry Timms and Deborah Hulme we were feeling pretty confident. Even a 3am fire alarm on Friday morning couldn’t deter us (although a strong shot of coffee at breakfast certainly helped!). Continue reading
Awards ceremonies used to be glamorous Hollywood affairs where actors and actresses were congratulated and adored by the world and us mere mortals could only dream of being part of such a spectacle.
Now you can barely swing an A lister without flinging them head first into an awards evening, whether it’s the business world, safety arena or the communications industry (and I really am only naming a few). But are these events simply self congratulating, back patting exercises that are beginning to incite award fatigue do they offer real value? Continue reading