Q&A with This is Definition and Voyage Care

Definition collaborated with Voyage Care’s in-house IC team to create an award-winning magazine, Zest. Allison Cary, head of internal communications at Voyage Care, and Andy Holt, managing director of engagement and employee experience at Definition, talk about how this partnership worked, providing insight into the success of the project.

‘Authentic, warm and human – a magazine that captures our DNA’

Winner: Channels > Best Magazine

Congratulations on winning the IoIC Award for Best Magazine. How did you feel to win?
Allison Cary: Whilst we’ve been lucky enough to have won a number of awards over recent years, that feeing when you hear your team’s name never gets old! It’s incredibly exciting in the moment, but even more special to reflect as a team after the event, reading the judges’ feedback and setting future goals.
Andy Holt: I always feel that rush of adrenalin when you hear you’ve won. I try to remember the “walk-on music” but instantly forget it as we rush to the stage. You can be cynical about awards, but I believe they’re important. They celebrate and recognise the talent, dedication and expertise of all the team and help lay the foundations for future success.  

What do you think makes your magazine so special?
Allison: Our approach to Zest is unique – it’s a channel that brings the people we support and our colleagues together and represents our values in action. The judges’ comments often compliment how we put the needs of those we support at the heart of Zest. As an editorial team, we take pride in the creative approach we take to accessibility.
Andy: The thing about Zest is it always feels authentic, warm and human. It’s packed with great colleague stories of people doing amazing things. It perfectly captures the DNA and spirit of Voyage Care in an upbeat and friendly way. 


What do you put your success down to?
Allison: Zest is a real team effort! We’ve been working with Definition to develop the magazine for the past five years, and our collaboration is what has helped us to stay true to the principles and objectives of Zest, while keeping things fresh – we don’t rest on past successes, we’re always actively seeking to improve.
Andy: I couldn’t agree more! It’s all down to collaboration and how we share the same vision for the magazine – and we love what we create together.


What was key to working collaboratively and successfully?
Allison: We’ve created an open, collaborative team with a clear framework for each issue. Our areas of responsibility are clear and we come together regularly to ensure the whole team understands the context of each story – it’s invaluable when it comes to design and refining the flow of each issue.
Andy: Ideas! Ideas! It’s that sweet spot between in-house and agency where we are so closely aligned in our thinking and ambition for the magazine that creative collaboration happens naturally and fresh, exciting ideas always come together.

What advice would you give to anyone considering entering the IoIC Awards next year?
Allison: First, and most importantly, consider the categories available to you – and map them against what you’ve worked on in the past year. We’re not all blessed with the budget to enter lots of awards, so consider your biggest successes. If you plan early in the entry window, this gives you time to analyse your outcomes and seek any more information you think will support your entry. Judges are always looking for more in terms of measurement, so make this a priority.
Andy: Measurement is key. An entry needs a strong hook and story and get some basics right. I’m always amazed how entries can have no imagery, no links to materials and people forget to include the actual communication or even the most basic metrics.  
Allison: Present yourselves well. A well-planned and executed entry makes it easier for the judges to understand your working and allows you to demonstrate your professionalism to them.
Andy: I’ve had the privilege of being on both sides of the table – as an entrant and as a judge and organiser of awards. You’ve got to put yourself in the mind of the team judging your entry and make it as compelling a case as possible. A sound rationale, delivered with impact and imagination and real-life results. 

What do you think of when you think of IoIC?
Allison: Professionalism. We see the IoIC seeking to further professional standards in our industry and we’re completely on board. As a team, we often make use of training and continuous professional development opportunities and we’ve entered the awards across a number of years as we feel they are trusted and recognised.
Andy: As IC professionals, it’s our institute – the only organisation that was specifically set up to promote our profession, drive development and standards. We’ve been heavily invested in the institute for many years and continue to promote it to colleagues and clients alike.

As an IC team, what would you like to achieve next? 
Allison: Zest is now celebrating five years since it was relaunched in partnership with Definition. We’ve learned so much and have some exciting developments coming up – from an accompanying podcast, to a future design refresh – and that makes Zest such a joy to work on!
Andy: I completely agree with Alison. On the wider IC front, I’m focused on the increasing importance of the union and interdependence between engagement, IC and employee experience. In the AI landscape and the opportunities and challenges it presents, it will be even more important that IC continues to build those genuine, authentic, human connections.