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We go again...

It's fair to say that day 1 of the first IoIC Festival was a bit of a triumph: jam-packed with thought-provoking insight, fascinating case studies and even a few minutes of quiet reflection (we're still feeling very zen after Elizabeth Marsh's closing digital pause).

We're excited to get cracking with Day 2 – our speakers are covering change, ESG, storytelling, peer ambassadors, diversity and inclusion, employee ownership and the future of the IC profession... and more besides.


And so our two-day festival has come to an end. Thank you to everyone who helped organise the sessions, who contributed as speakers, who supported us as sponsors, the venue and, most importantly, all the festival-goers who turned up and rocked it!

Until next year (we’ll be back in July!)…


"Being part of a story that gets retold is a great human motivator. We want to be part of something that will be remembered." – Richard Olivier

Leaders need a royal face, but they also need to manage the human face behind the royal face.

In Act 4, Henry V talks to his brother, the Duke of Gloucester, and he talks honestly – he tells his brother what he can’t tell the troops.

Henry V realises his head and heart need to have an internal communication before he can engage the hearts and minds of the troops.


A very dramatic moment there where we are transported to The Globe and Richard Olivier delivers a fantastic monologue from Henry V.

The link to leaders? It's The Warrior type...

"Motivate with positive energy, belief, confidence and images – tigers, greyhounds, your mum… He puts enough in there that everyone will find something to motivate them.

"Show people the light – show them the vision. What is the bright future? In leadership communication, let people feel the heat. Change behaviour now to stop the negative future coming to past. There are a lot of skills leaders need to be able to show others the negative images – it's about caring about people enough that you are going to tell them clearly about the consequences of their continued negative behaviour so that they will shape up."

Do your leaders step in to The Sovereign. Sometimes they  know what the story should be, but don’t know how to fill it.

Richard advises:

  • As a leader, you need to be the chief storyteller in your organisation. If you don’t someone else will, and it might not be the story you want.
  • Be visible. Show up and inspire people. Your humanbeingness is your inspiration technology.

What do human beings and monkeys have in common? asks Richard. The higher they climb, the more you see of their ugly bits.

In Act 1, the nation has emerged from a civil war and infighting. That civil war was brought to an end with the death of Henry IV, and the country was left in the hands of the relatively untried and untested Henry V.

But Prince Hal – Henry V – suffered from a dodgy past, so his first challenge was perception management. People saw him as a playboy prince and he had to step up and show himself to be different, and work on his story to align his nobles so they see him as a responsible leader.


In the Prologue of Henry V, the first two lines are:

Oh for a muse of fire, thats would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.

'Muse of fire' is the spirit of creativity and imagination. This was a time of great leap forward in how people saw leadership.

"We need to create the brainstorm space where we might not come up with the idea straight away," says Richard. "We need to wait in the unknown for something to emerge in the fog, which might be the right answer, if not the quick answer. The Dreamer is good at doing this."


Richard Olivier considers there are 10 archetypes that are essential and complete for leaders, each with their own communication types, and he's going to talk about seven of these.

  • Dreamer – the part of us that can tap into imagination and inspiration
  • Sovereign – the part of us that tunes in to purpose and vision. What gets us up in the morning?
  • Strategist – about careful planning: make sure you have a roadmap
  • Warrior – in charge of challenge and defence
  • Transformer – the archetype of mystery, regeneration and change
  • Nurturer – the archetype of care and empathy; the part of us that seeks to build relationships

...and these are all underpinned by the archetype of the Storyteller.

The closing keynote from the Festival is by Richard Olivier, founder and artistic director of Olivier Mythodrama, and he’s talking about Inspirational leadership, inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry V.


How do we attract more diverse talent to the profession and keep ourselves in the spotlight?

Becky Leonard: “It’s an awareness and visibility issue. The first thing to do to get people into the profession is to go out to the touchpoints – schools and universities – where you have people coming into their first roles, and raise awareness of what internal comms is. That’s going to be really important.

“On the other side, we need to make sure we are providing those opportunities in our companies. You have graduate schemes in marketing, but you don’t often see it in IC. Why not? If we had those resources, that would go a long way to making people see it as a viable career.”

“What about internships or work experience?” adds Kimberley-Marie Sklinar. “That’s part of the diversity angle. Not everyone can go to university.”


Kimberley-Marie Sklinar, communications manager at AutoProtect, reminds us to think about "the power of line managers".

"They are the person that a colleague speaks to the most. They are your most important comms channel.

“In the work we do, we can’t speak to every single person in the business. Let’s coach and work with line managers and give them resources and training – not everyone is a great communicator. Use the skills we use with leaders to help line managers.”


“We’ve heard about great leaders ho have done great things. Part of being a good IC professional is the ability to coach and bring out that which is really good in the leaders we work with – to give them difficult feedback, help them be the leader the organisation needs them to be. We have to be very trusted to do that role – and you will have a great relationship with a leader.” – Colin Archer

The game changer: "In order to solve the attrition/turnover conundrum that's playing out as people re-evaluate their lives, what is the glue that drives someone to stay in an organisation?" asks Cathryn Barnard. "If the glue is the culture, then comms is the enactment of the culture – it’s every conversation and every time we acknowledge someone’s idea or contribution.

"It's not just ‘Did we get this communication to 1,300 employees?’ It's ‘Tell me what you think’."

Colin Archer, IoIC Fellow, agrees: "Communication is a two-way process. How many times in an organisation is it seen as a one-way broadcast? Listening makes a difference, as does showing you have listened by doing something. Great organisations are starting to do that well."

“If you work in an organisation with customers, their experience will be negatively impacted hugely if we don’t engage with the employees.” – Steve Hayes

How do we build connection and communicate when we are disparate?

Becky Leonard, insight and content manager at Sequel Group, says: “Organisations shouldn’t have a mandate, but a movement. It’s something we’re seeing more of in the next generation coming up. People need that social purpose behind a job.

"In most presentations at the Festival, we’ve heard about mass resignations and people moving from jobs. These changes are because people are re-evaluating where they are in life. There’s a voice in employees’ heads saying: 'Would people notice if I wasn’t here?' IC is in a prime position to connect people to the purpose – and bring the why.”

Steve Hayes
, director of communication at Citizen, says: “Our organisations look different to how they did 18 months ago.  It was challenging enough for us back then to provide a narrative people understand. Now we are at more risk of losing the thread of storytelling than ever as we are so further apart from each other.”

Our next session is linked to IoIC’s #IChoseIC campaign: What does everything we’ve heard mean for the future of our profession?
Chair Cathryn Barnard starts with a killer question: what does the future of IC look like?

“We know that employee get the plan, but we need to keep communicating how each and every partner can support the plan and contribute to it.” – Adam Spink, John Lewis Partnership


Great film from the John Lewis Partnership team – showing how the partners (employees) themselves are involved in taking the partnership plan forward.


In John Lewis Partnership's strategic review process, the strategy and comms teams asked partners (employees) two questions:

  • What would you like the organisation to look like in 2025?
  • And what have you seen competitors do that you think is really interesting?

Adam Spink and Henry Elworthy from John Lewis Partnership conducted a strategic review in 2020, following the appointment of a new chairman and executive team, and in light of the retail sector going through some tough times.

The review involved the strategy team, who worked with an external consultant team on the diagnostics – where were we? And the comms team worked work with partners (employees) to get them engaged and keep them updated.

“We wanted to do things differently,” says Adam. “We decided to go out and talk to partners and get ideas, and use the power of diversity of minds. And we made sure we engaged with different parts of the business – head office, customer centres, branch networks supply chain and distribution centres. In hard-to-reach areas, we set up focus groups.”

As the noise from the anti-woke campaigns become more mainstream, how do we push back and maintain our lead in improving D&I?

“Do more and in different ways,” says Will.

“You’re not going to make everyone happy,” says Andrea. “Some people are really uncomfortable talking about any subject of D&I as it shows who they are and some people are not willing to go to that space – and that’s OK. You find there are a chunk of people who get it, and another chunk get it but don’t know what you need them to do – focus on them and give them instruction.

“It’s our responsibility as human beings to step into someone’s shoes and say I might not understand what you’ve been through, but I’m willing to listen to you.”

Clare says she would like to break down the barriers. “Diversity affects everyone. It’s like mental health. Everyone has it – it might be good or bad, but everyone has It. And diversity is not a group of people ‘over there’ talking about it. It’s a general topic.”


Integrate stories about diverse people in your organisation all year round – don’t just talk about LGBTQ during Pride month, or celebrate Black people in Black History Month. Integrate D&I into your storytelling all year round, not just awareness days, so it becomes natural.


How do you make people feel included? The top 2 tips from the panel...


  • Make sure employees feel empowered to share their own stories. Let them do it on their own terms and help them share it in a meaningful way.
  • Make sure you are finding ways in internal comms to raise people’s pronouns. Do away with the stigma of normalising pronouns.


  • It starts with self development. How inclusive are you as a person? When you are around people, how do you feel? If you don’t look at that, you’re missing a point. If you’re not engaged with how you’re thinking, that’s where unconscious bias comes in.
  • If your role is regional or global, reach out to the people you are meant to be reaching. D&I looks different in other countries.


  • Leverage the tools you have. There’s a lot of accessibility features in Office 365 tools. Make everything you do is suitable for as many audiences as possible.
  • If you’re posting pics on LinkedIn, fill in the image description so people using screen readers don’t have to sit through the code behind the image.


Ensure the journey for employees is diverse.

“Dont get images from Shutterstock for your campaign,” says Will. “Represent your real workforce. And when people leave the organisation, make sure they have a great offboarding experience. Learn from those exit interviews. If people are leaving because they don’t feel included, internal comms needs to help address that.”


Really excited to head from Andrea Henry, Will Fox and Clare Elevique about ensuring true diversity and inclusion.

How can IC facilitate dialogue and build understanding about a topic they don’t own?

Andrea advises to approach it like a business partner. “If you knew nothing about a topic, you’d visit the stakeholders, get an understanding of their vision, goals and strategy and how those fit with the overall business strategy. Think about D&I in the same way. If you don’t know how to weave it in, find the people – the D&I team – and speak to them. Understand the mission. What are their challenges? How can IC support the journey?”

Anthony Tasgal’s top tips about storytelling:

  • Massage don’t message – “message” is one way. If you want to make people change, make them feel good about themselves when they make their choice.
  • Golden thread – any form of comms needs a thread, a structure and a framework so that the audience can see where you are going.
  • Start with something meaningful – start with the story, make it memorable.


"A film needs a start, a middle and an end – but not necessarily in that order.” – film director Jean-Luc Godard (and also Anthony Tasgal at IoIC Festival 2021)


"The brain filters out 90% of what it hears – either because it doesn’t care about it or it knows it already." – Anthony Tasgal

Anthony Tasgal @taswellhill is talking about storytelling: "Storytelling moves us. It’s all about making us feel a universal emotional bond with other people."

We are living in the drip world, says Anthony. Data rich, insight poor.

"Insight is about creating new connections – the universal human emotion. If you’re not trying to say something interesting to your audience, why are you bothering? Find new ways of saying old things or find a way of saying something different."


What channels do you continue using as we move into a hybrid style of working?

Krishan Lathigra explains events continue to bring leadership together in person and remotely.

Janet Lawless adds: “Our virtual in conversation events can get 3,000 people on a call, and we use Slido to gather questions. There’s no way we could achieve that in a face-to-face session. And because staff are operational, you’d have to consider travel times, so virtual events will continue.”


Reflections from Janet Lawless and Krishan Lathigra on visible leadership and colleague engagement.

  • There’s no going back – now, more is expected.
  • Senior leadership have a greater appetite for effective IC.
  • Data is a precious currency, but distil it and identify the actual insight. That’s what buys you credibility.
  • Experiment. If it works, great. If not, learn and try again. Take measured risks.
  • Tell your story. During a crisis, tell the story of how the organisation is delivering for fellow citizens. It helps build pride.


The value of boosting visibility was evident. A lot was invested in leadership and communication and the scores went up across Whitehall.

  • DCMS: “Senior managers in my organisation are sufficiently visible” – 83%, up 11 percentage points
  • Home Office: “My organisation keeps me informed about matters that affect me” – 62%, up 8% points

“The business of government had to go on. We had to adapt. Around L&D, just because they were working elsewhere, we did not want people to stop building their capability. We got a director general to participate in L&D activity and we talked about how we were building the leadership’s capabilities.” – Krishan Lathigra

Krishan and Janet are talking about adapting in a crisis: visible leadership and colleague engagement.

The challenge, says Jane, was delivering the strategy in a virtual world with a mostly operational workforce – and coming up with engaging products that made people want to come and meet the new permanent secretary (who started his new role on the day of the first lockdown in March 2020).

Talking about his role at Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Krishan explains the importance of balancing coming up with quick solutions for leaders and making sure the department stuck rigidly to the principles of leadership visibility.

Post-lunch, Krishan Lathigra and Janet Lawless from the Home Office are raring to go...


It's lunchtime. Anyone for a game of Connect 4 or Snakes and Ladders? Or just have your photo taken with the largest fire extinguisher we have ever seen.

As communicators, we have an opportunity to improve people’s working lives.

“Celebrate – give people meaning with our communication.” – Hattie Roche.


Hattie Roche on hybrid working: “Dictatorship and telling people you are not going to get promoted or learn or grow if you are not physically present – we need to move away from that.

“Think about it in a positive way – like a disrupter. This is an opportunity for us to experience work differently.”

Hattie Roche, co-managing director and strategy chief at Home, is doing a great job talking about employee experience, having stepped in at (almost) the last minute to put together a presentation after one of our speakers was unable to attend.

“Businesses are waking up to the fact that people have different expectations,” she says. “We all want a better balance. People are talking about our profession and employee experience, and this is an opportunity for us to do something different."


Interesting reflections in the Inspiration zone.

"Organisations that respond well to the current situation are those who focus on job activities – helping people get stuff done," says Wes Hackett.

That means embedding the cultural element and etiquette alongside the actual activity, e.g. positioning Teams with guidance on when we should be using it. Do you say you are “on Teams” at a time when you are working on paper? Is it clear that if you ping someone on Teams, they don’t have to respond instantly?

In the Inspiration zone, Wes Hackett and Suzy Dean from AddIn365 are talking about how to put the needs of employees at the centre of information design.

Wes talks about the importance of considering what goes in your general “Colleague updates” area online – insights; awards; crisis management; news and updates, etc – and how, as comunicators, we want to be able to target a market or a demographic of the employee base.

“We want elements that allow us to tailor the news experience to people’s needs, and bring in news from places employees frequent."

And around communities, “by wrapping the conversational panel with a deeper and broader set of content, employees have a better footprint with the rest of the organisation”.

In the Problem Solving tent, we’re talking about three key points to consider when introducing changes to your organisaiton. From one of the tables, the key points were:

  • Talk to your people, whether staff or managers, about expectations and what you want from the change. Make sure people they have the autonomy to work.
  • Clarity of information – if we’re talking about hybrid working, is it hybrid, or smart working, or agile working?Make sure people have the definition and information they need to do their work.
  • Time frames – be clear: Is this it forever? Is it a pilot?

Ranjit adds: “Line managers are often the most neglected, but they are critical – to embed especially.”

Change and project management consultant and trainer Ranjit Sidhu is in the Problem Solving marquee, talking about change.

“When we introduce more change, it’s more stuff to think about and it’s on top of people’s days jobs. It’s taxing. Be mindful that people can’t keep running at 100 miles an hour when you introduce change or new values.”

What ignited the flame (of culture)?

  • David Macdonald: Senior engagement – having the support and buy-in from our boss.
  • Miguel Premoli: Identity – I work for No. 8 Beauty Company. It’s very powerful.
  • Lesley Allman: Bottom-up. Involving everybody, not doing it to them.


“From a comms point of view, it’s about looking at what we are already doing in comms to get the message to our people, and working with culture ambassadors to find new initiatives to keep embedding the culture.” – David Macdonald, No.7 Beauty Company

Typically in change culture programmes, the people at the top of an organisation have time to consider the new strategy and culture and then communicate their conclusions to the rest of the workforce, and the vast majority of employees – at the bottom of the triangle – get the poster with the conclusions.

Lesley Allman: “We wanted to make sure everyone had the same opportunities to go through the thought process and come up with the conclusions themselves.

“We talked about ‘Building our new company together’. To make culture change happen, we need not 10 or 100 people, but thousands of people to make lots of small changes every day. The culture is the outcome of that. It's not something you do to people.”


Lesley Allman talks about how she, David and Miguel worked together to “pass on the flame” and create a bottom-up movement within the new No.7 Beauty Company.

“We wanted the thousands of people in the organisation to be living and breathing the ideas.”

In a session on change and transformation, we are looking at the case study of the creation of the No. 7 Beauty Company

With Walgreens Boots Alliance and No 7 Beauty Company’s VP of communications, David Macdonald, and chief Human Resources officer, Miguel Premoli, and internal comms expert Lesley Allman.

The team started from the ground up and went through every detail, but, says David, “we knew the single most important thing was culture”.

Miguel says: "Our identity was crucial for our success – representing who we are, but also how we make decisions.”

“If you imagine, the previous culture was Boots culture from Nottingham, from people in London doing marketing, from our offices in New York… We didn’t have a culture that united us across the organisation. So we asked our employees in different parts of the world what the culture should be. Interestingly, the results across geographies were quite similar.”


Is there sunshine on the way? It's starting to look "a little brighter"...


How do you get more users to contribute?

David Price: “There are user-innovators, which is a relatively small group of people who are passionate about the product and want to make it better. It’s about how you conduct the conversation. Think about not just consulting with them, but actually saying, ‘What are you working on? How can we help you with that?’”


David Price plays an excerpt from an interview with WD40 CEO Gary Ridge talking about the company’s “Work from where” policy.

“We’re not going to mandate," says Gary. "We used our values as the basis for people to make their decision about where they want to work from. We said we would make the offices as safe or safer than any place you choose to go, but if you choose not to come here, you don’t have to.”

Talking about social movements, David asks: What will be your message that you help people to co-create?

“Don’t consult, co-create.”


“The interplay between comms and culture has changed in the light of Covid," says David Price. "We know the workplace has forever changed. If we think hybrid working is the only change, we’re missing a trick.

“We are starting to see traditional hierarchies breaking down. Your job as internal communicators is to make sure information flows horizontally across the organisation and across various silos, and make sure information comes down; and in the more progressive organisation also that information flows up.

“That would be great if that happened in real life – but in real life it’s a little more chaotic.” (see below)

“Culture is not on a poster. It’s in the hearts and minds of what people do every day.” – David Price OBE.

The internal comms of movement – David Price's 4 principles:

  • Foster communities, not competition
  • Stay true to your roots
  • Find your tribe
  • Don’t try to fake it


Work with users, sasy David Price.

“Users are not customers. They might buy your services or products – but they might think they could do a better job.”

David cites Proctor and Gamble’s Connect & Develop programme as a great example.

“Proctor and Gamble decided to throw open the idea of innovation to anyone, and invited anyone who has an idea for a new product or can help solve a technical product to join them. Those people don’t work for P&G, but alongside them, and it’s transformed the business.

“Proctor and Gamble adopted the motto ‘Proudly found elsewhere’. That highlights the value of bringing users into your organisation, as users want to be co-creators. Users want to work with organisations that have a strong sense of social purpose.”

David Price OBE, author of The Power of Us and OPEN: How We'll Work, Live & Learn In The Future, gives today’s opening keynote.

Over the past 18 months, he rewrote his book, The Power Of Us, to reflect how society has been reacting to changes.

“We were starting to see communities outperforming bureaucracies. People were doing things quicker and more efficiently than our governments: the teenager in the US who wrote a Covid-tracking website, kids in schools making 3D face shields, there were 1,000 self help books in the first weeks of the pandemic, cross-discipline teams…”


CEO Jennifer Sproul welcomes everyone back and prepares the audience for a fantastic line-up of speakers, looking at what’s going on in society.

“More is changing than just the pandemic – our perspective is changing as humans.

“How do we lead people through change and take people with us on that journey when it is so pace-driven?”

  • 5th July 2022
    Here we are, back at the stunning Goosedale in Nottingham, for our second IoIC Festival. It's our own Glastonbury with legends of IC performing across all our zones – presenting,...
  • 28th June 2022
    Head of membership at CIPD and former IoIC board member Oli Howard has recently joined our impressive list of internal communicators who have received Fellowships. Here, he shares some valuable...
  • 21st June 2022
    Our latest IoIC Fellow Joanna Parsons, head of internal communications & culture with teamwork, discusses overcoming a case of imposter syndrome, being a “silo surfer” and the impact...
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