Closing the gap

AICC2016_SocialMedia_800x800As 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.

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Filed under CIPR inside, Conference, Helen Deverell, Internal communication

Creative failure

Be creativeImagine 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.

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Filed under Books, Creativity, Failure, Helen Deverell, Internal communication

Delivering a top notch community service

community_magaement_blogCommunity is making a comeback.

While we still may not know our neighbours, many of us have become well acquainted with people online who share similar interests to us. So it’s only natural that this way of building relationships and collaborating has seeped into the workplace.

But while local communities of the previous century didn’t need a community manager to moderate their various activities, the same can’t be said of our modern equivalents.

As enterprise social networks (ESN) become a key channel for communication within many organisations, it’s important that we as internal communicators understand how to maximise the benefits they can bring to businesses, as well as support and encourage our colleagues to use them.

Originally written for Alive with ideas. Read the full blog on their website.

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Going for gold – what internal communicators can learn from Olympians

rio-going-for-gold_blogWhile you could argue the likes of Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah aren’t exactly relatable to the average Joe on the street, we may have more in common with these super humans than you think.

What do we know about some of our greatest Olympians, currently on their way to Rio 2016? They’re at the top of their game, in peak physical condition and have committed the best years of their life to achieving their dreams. Following London 2012, they also inspired a generation to get moving and enjoy participating in sport.

That’s all well and good, but what does that have to do with internal communications? Well sport is about more than just winning or physical exertion, it’s about realising what you’re capable of, gaining confidence, commitment, team work, accomplishing goals. Sound familiar?

Originally written for Alive with ideas. Read the full blog on their website.

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How to write riveting copy

Writing tipsAhead 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.

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Writing in a world of wonky comms

a-writing-masterclass-with-a-difference_2In a world of wonky comms, do internal communicators still need writing skills?

Absolutely. I know how to bake a cake, but I’m still going to turn to an expert to create something beyond the basics. And the same can be said for writing.

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Shhh…I’m having an idea – introverts and creativity

creative_introvert_blog_v2“We need a creative idea and we need it now.”

The phrase guaranteed to send chills down any introverted, internal comms pro’s spine. But why do so many of us associate creativity with spontaneity?

We’ve all been in that meeting where a ‘creative idea’ is required and all eyes turn to you, the communications professional. It’s a true fight or flight moment; an extrovert’s dream, an introvert’s nightmare. But does being able to come up with quick ideas and solutions make you more creative than someone who goes away and ponders all the options before coming to a conclusion?

This was originally written for Alive with ideas. Read the full blog on their website.

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Filed under Creativity, Internal communication, Introvert

A lesson in future proofing

learning-at-work-week_blog_newHow often do we as internal communicators take the time to look ahead and consider what skills and knowledge we might need to future proof our jobs?That’s right future proof.  Some in our industry are predicting that if we do our jobs well now, we’ll create organisations full of communicators, making ourselves redundant in the process.

This topic was discussed at the recent #ioiclive16 conference, where they asked delegates to put their heads together to build the internal communicator of the future to understand what skills we might need going forward. There were some great insights, so we thought we’d add a few of ours in to the mix…

This was originally written for Alive with ideas. Read the full blog on their website.

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Talkin’ bout a reinvention

The communicator of the future?

The communicator of the future?

When we were planning #ioiclive16, we knew we wanted to be bold, to challenge thinking and to disrupt the status quo. And our fantastic line up of speakers didn’t disappoint. From our Thursday evening session where our expert panel facilitated the build (and redundancy in one case) of the internal communicator of the future, to our closing session with the brilliant Leandro Herrero telling a room of internal comms professionals that our function was superfluous to requirement, there was a lot of talk about reinvention.

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Filed under Conference, Helen Deverell Communications, Internal communication, IoIC

My first week as a freelancer

My shiny new notebook and penWith my first full week as a freelancer firmly under my belt and a glass of wine firmly in my hand, I’ve drawn breath to reflect on the last five days.

Monday got off to a flying start. I was sat at my desk at 9am, coffee in hand having already been for a run, feeling pretty pleased with myself. I spent the day writing content for a client and even took a call about an offer of work – I was living the dream.

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A royal lesson in leadership

royal_lesson_blog_bannerGun salutes, beacon lighting and a cake baked by the winner of the Great British Bake Off. It could only have been the Queen’s 90th birthday.

A fitting celebration for a monarch who has loyally served her country for 63 years. Few other leaders can claim a tenure as long, so what is the secret to her enduring leadership and popularity?

Originally written for Alive with ideas. Read the full blog on their website.

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Filed under Internal communication, leadership, Queen

With a little help from my friends…

FriendsA 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.

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Filed under Blogging, Helen Deverell, Helen Deverell Communications, Internal communication

Lost in translation – the language of cancer

IMG_20160209_183156As 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

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Filed under Breast cancer, Helen Deverell, Internal communication, Language

Why do I blog?

Keep calm and blogEvery 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

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Filed under Blogging, Breast cancer, Helen Deverell, Internal communication, Introvert

Fancy winning a day’s consultancy with All Things IC?

Boobette_crowdfunder_facebook image_blueLet’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

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Filed under Breast cancer, Helen Deverell, Internal communication, Uncategorized

The return to work

The not exactly subtle new 'do'

The not exactly subtle new look.

At the beginning of June I returned to work following a six-month absence to receive treatment for breast cancer. After the elation of finishing a long slog of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I was brought back down to earth with the realisation that I would now be returning to work. A place I hadn’t been for six months, where team members had changed, where there was a new CEO, a new culture and I was rocking a not exactly subtle new look (see photo).

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Shaking the world gently

Quiet revolutionI 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

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Filed under Helen Deverell, Internal communication, Introvert, Quiet, Quiet Revolution, Susan Cain

Creating a community – my interview with YBCN founder Victoria Yates

YBCN logoSince my recent breast cancer diagnosis, I’ve been a member of the Younger Breast Cancer Network (YBCN), a secret Facebook group for women diagnosed under the age of 45. For a young woman, breast cancer can have a vastly different effect on your life, to that of an older woman; your life is just taking off when the brakes are suddenly applied. Relationships and marriages are tested while still in their infancy, careers are put on hold and the prospect of children is no longer a certainty.

And that’s why the YBCN is so special. It offers peer support, humour and friendship from women going through the same thing at a similar age. It was set up by Victoria Yates (Vickie), a solicitor in Manchester who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36 in 2010. As the youngest woman in the breast clinic waiting room, the online forums and events, she had never felt more alone. Continue reading

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Filed under Breast cancer, Helen Deverell, Internal communication, Social media, YBCN

Controlling the message: how I told the world I had cancer

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


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In the shadows

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


Filed under Development, Helen Deverell, Internal communication, Shadowing