Industry News

Employee communications leader Laura Storey is heading up a new IoIC region to support internal comms experts south of London.

A new IoIC region has been created to tap into the wealth of internal comms knowledge south of London.

With the capital not always a convenient reach from Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Kent and the Isle of Wight, the South region has been set up to enable IC professionals from those counties to exchange ideas, experiences and challenges.

Heading up the new IoIC region is Laura Storey (pictured), employee communications leader for IBM. Laura has been in internal comms for the past 10 years, but says she took an extended route to get there. After leaving university, she went into law, covering insurance liability cases – but felt something was missing. 

“Law is heavy and emotionally draining,” says Laura. “I wanted to get a sense of creativity back into my life.”

Laura took on a client communications role for the law firm she worked for, overseeing the website and newsletters. With a reworked CV, she found a comms-related role in digital web relationship management with IBM.

After more than seven years in that business area, Laura took maternity leave and came back in 2008 to focus on internal comms. “I love it,” she says. “Employees are close to my heart. I am one!” 

And working at a world-leading innovative tech company gives Laura the opportunity to stretch her brain muscles in alternative ways. Through the company’s patenting process, Laura has eight inventions under her belt. 

“We have a group that pools ideas about problems to be solved and we come up with technology-based solutions,” explains Laura. “It goes through our patent and master inventors. It’s blue sky thinking.”


How have you come to lead the new IoIC South region?

It was one of those lucky moments. I had the right conversation at the right time. I’d been an IoIC member for just over a year, although I have been aware of IoIC for a long time.

When the call went out for elections for board members, I threw my name in the hat. I wasn’t elected – and I was fine with that – but I wanted to find a way of adding value, and I started to wonder why there wasn’t an IoIC South region. I reached out to the IoIC and said if something was going to be set up, I’d like to be part of it.


Why do you think it’s important to have an IoIC South region?

The south often gets lumped in with London, which isn’t beneficial. London is wonderful but it’s a hefty centre of gravity. Everyone assumes if you’re in the south, you can attend things in the capital easily. If you’re in Bournemouth, it’s hard after a day’s work to travel up to London for an event – and it’s expensive. 

Equally, we’re really geographical in the south. We have a range of industries, and small and large employers. I figured it’s time we break away from London’s centrality and give the south its own identity. It seemed there was an opportunity.


How do you feel internal communications has changed over the past ten years?

Teams have got smaller, work has increased. There are more channels and we’ve created what-you-see-is-what-you-get tools for employees to do their own comms – and that’s led to this colossal internal noise. The decentralisation of comms hasn’t made the job easier. 


What can internal communicators do to resolve these issues?

The increase in noise is everywhere – not just in work, but outside. We’re bombarded left right and centre so we need to find the key channels that will cut through the clutter. 

We need to look at what we can do with our messaging from a strategic point of view – and on the right channels. We need to get to the areas where we can help decrease the fatigue for communication among people, and make the biggest difference.


What will your first actions be as regional directors?

I want to get together a handful of willing volunteers and, either face to face or via a videocall, brainstorm how we want to get out there in the region, and then work out the events and plans to focus on over the next year or two.


What issues are you most keen to talk about?

I want to hear other people’s points of view. I have a strong understanding of IBM, but it will be good to see what the themes are from volunteers in other sectors. There will be challenges specific to our region – particularly that feeling of being excluded from a lot of the training, education and network events that take place in London.

I’d also like to reach out to the other IoIC regional leaders and see what’s worked for them.


What do you think are the opportunities for IoIC in the future?

I think there’s a huge opportunity for internal communicators to understand trends, and develop our skills and careers. Every key trend – social and digital, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, you name it – has one thing in common: communication. There’s a massive opportunity for us to get ahead of those trends and own them. 

I want to get across some excitement for our profession. It’s easy for internal communicators to become internally focused, and we forget there’s a bigger world out there. There’s so much we can learn from each other through skill sharing, and by networking and sharing best practice. IoIC gives us a great framework to improve the credibility of our profession. 


Are you based in the south – but not in London? Fancy sharing ideas and experiences as part of the new IoIC South Region? Get in touch with Laura by emailing [email protected].

 

 

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