Q&A with Scottish Water

Scottish Water sailed away with no less than five awards at the 2023 IoIC Awards. Here, Ann Hood, internal communications team manager, reflects on the IC team’s success.

Q&A with Scottish Water

Winner: Strategy & Campaigns > Best Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Campaign; Skills > Best Design; Team > Best In-House Team 10+ People and Best Pub;lic Sector or Not for Profit Team 10+ People; and #WeMatterAtWork

Congratulations on winning multiple IoIC Awards. How did that feel?It was amazing to hear we had won on the night and to end up with five awards was simply breathtaking. When we won the #WeMatterAtWork award, we were all speechless – which for a comms team is a rare thing! It meant so much to the whole team, really validating the hard work that everyone had put in.

What do you think makes your campaign so special?

We identified inconsistency in the look and content of many local communications and the branding, plus the tone of voice was not consistent with brand guidelines.

It was clear that employees did not have access to the right tools to prepare their own high-quality communications. Although we did already provide self-service tools, they were underutilised and we knew after doing research that the greatest demand was for access to imagery, templates and communications skills support, which is what we built and continually improve to ensure we support the business effectively and easily.

What do you put your success down to?

We had recently restructured and expanded our team – removing contractor and agency reliance and growing a multi-skilled internal communications team. We are focused on events, content and campaigns, strategic and transformation communications, and insights.

We now deliver all communications activity in-house, which the team loves, as it means everyone has such a great deal of variety in their roles, working on a vast array of exciting projects and feeling empowered to try new things. We are a creative and collaborative team, who enjoy working together and push each other to continually improve. 

We design internal branding alongside many other graphic design-related outputs, including animations, cartoons and so much more. We also produce high quality videos, events and continually measure the impact of what we do.

By creating a skilled centre of excellence and aligning with our organisational priorities, the team has also massively improved the quality of its outputs while reducing costs to Scottish Water.  

What advice would you give to anyone considering entering the IoIC Awards this year?

We all know that we are usually way too busy to think about ourselves and award submissions get pushed aside due to time pressures. But it is so worth it – not only does it make your team feel appreciated and their work recognised by peers it demonstrates to your business or stakeholders, just how great the work you do is.

Our CEO was so proud of us as were the whole executive team, which I know many internal comms teams don’t always hear.

We agreed and worked on the submissions as a team. We only picked the projects that we felt stood out, many others would have been great, but we wanted to pick the best. The submission form when empty looks daunting but it’s straightforward. Keep to the word count, be concise and support it with evidence of how the project was successful. Do a first draft but then share with your team or someone you trust in the business. We had at least three drafts before we got to our final version to submit. Also, we read about past winners and what they did – that was really helpful.

What do you think of when you think of IoIC?
Professional, supportive with a fountain of great ideas to support internal communicators do their job. 

What is your favourite thing about your team?

I love working in a team. I have worked on my own before and it has its rewards but being part of a creative, supportive, energised team who relishes trying out new things is rewarding and invigorating. As I have got older and worked in so many different places, the most important thing to me is the people I work with. They have to be honest, filled with integrity and determination to do a great job for the customer and truly supportive of their people.

The team, your boss, the business and your colleagues can make a job wonderful or terrible. At Scottish Water, I’m fortunate to have found the best in all four areas. I plan to stay and continue to build and be part of, a happy, productive and creative team, who win even more awards and most importantly make working so hard, feel so worthwhile and fun.