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The location: Birmingham. The audience: internal communicators. The theme: transforming reputation from the inside out. It can only mean one thing – *drum roll* – it's time for IoIC Live 2018.

Follow us here and on Twitter using the hashtag #ioiclive18 for the latest updates of day one.


And... we're done for day one. Networking starts... Join us tomorrow for more live blogging on day two of #ioiclive18


How do you focus on what staff really think and feel as opposed to what they show? "Listen, create a space for safe conversations, match up your quantitative data with qualitative feedback that gets underneath those topics," says IC consultant Rachel Miller. "You need to have eyes and ears everywhere – forums, focus groups. Be on it, be internal investigators. Understand what the conversations are."


Look at your exit interviews, advises Rachel Miller. It's "an incredible resource".

"What are the top three reasons why people are leaving your organisation?"

Who are we, as internal commnunicators? asks Rachel Miller. "We offer advice and guidance, including creating and curating content through a range of channels. Everything we do helps employees align their efforts to our company's purpose and strategy. Alignment is a trend that is gathering pace, momentum and noise in IC. How can we align employees around our vision and purpose – and, importantly, be consistent?"

There are many ways we give clues to who we are. "We make snap judgments in less than a second about what we think of people," says IC consultant Rachel Miller. "I've come here today because of what's in my brain, but what would you think if I was here in shorts and a T-shirt? How I dress will give you an opinion in your mind as whether I'm worth listening to. We all make choices about how we want to come across."

What does your ringtone say about you? What about your email address – Rachel suggests we later reveal our first ever personal email address. Would it be suitable now? – your out-of-office message, voicemails, attitude, profile picture, handshake, language...

Ask people what you think you're known for. Does it match up with what you think about yourself?


"It's important we are aware of our values and make us tick. If you can find a job that plays on those values, it will be the greatest job ever." – Rachel Miller.


"Your personal brand – your promise as an individual – has to be based on your own values and what's important to you," says Rachel Miller.

Our values are formed by the time we're 7 years of age – and they stay, says Rachel: "How are we helping to shape little people's values?"


Rachel Miller reveals her love of Lego. "I never had it as a child. I buy Lego and build a lot of it."

Showing images of a Lego Parisian kitchen and  double decker bus, she says the models give her "untold joy" because of the finer details that are not immediately visible on a fleeting glance. "The intricacy of detail is important," says Rachel. "I know it's there. Knowing what's inside somewhere is incredibly important. What are the invisible parts of your organisation?"


IC consultant and speaker Rachel Miller is on stage to reflect on why  you need to focus inward. What is a personal brand? "It's quite trendy," she says.

Branding – your promise to your customers
Employer branding – your promise and reputation as an employer
Personal branding – your promise and reputation as an individual


The trust challenge presents us with opportunities, says Rachel Royall, director of communication at NHS Digital. "Trust in leaders is at an all-time low, but trust in doctors and nurses is still really high – over 90 per cent. Employees are more trusted than leaders as sources of credible information."


Why must reputation matter to people in IC? "The negative impact on staff," says Rachel Royall of NHS Digital. "For frontline nurses to wake up every day to negative media can feel relentless and impact on morale."

Rachel talks about the recent BBC series Hospital, and said that after this was screened last year, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, the subject of the documentary, reported that complaints dropped from 75 per cent to 15 per cent. It has stimulated a much-needed debate about health and social care.


Rachel Royall, director of communication at NHS Digital: "To build trust in orgainsations, we need genuine conversations and relationships. When it's well integrated, it works across multiple channels and drives improvement."

Rachel talks passionately about the power of real stories. "When I worked in an acute hospital, often before I'd got to my desk in the morning, I'd meet people – staff, patients, volutneers – who told me stories. It's these stories that make things real for people.

"It's harder at NHS Digital. I have to dig deeper to get stories to resonate, but I'm passionate about encouraging my team to look for the human aspect in everything we do for patients and citizens."

Talking about leadership, Rachel says internal comms role is huge: "Communications is the sister of leadership. We have a role to promote ethical transparent decision-making."


We've had a tea and coffee break and we're ready to go again. Rachel Royall, director of communication at NHS Digital, is going to share her experiences of building trust in the NHS. 

Her three key messages for this afternoon:
– This year is the NHS's 70th birthday and building trust is going to be critical to sustain services for the next 70 years
– Internal comms and advocacy is key to building trust – it's critical to any organisation, but especially the NHS
– Rachel hopes that we go away thinking that if something can be pulled off in the NHS, it can be achieved anywhere. 


The role of IC in creating purpose, says Christine Crofts of Diageo, is to step up, own it and volunteer yourself. "Help articulate the company purpose – be a part of creating compelling language." The tricky bit, she adds, is working with HR, PR, and marketing to "make sure the holistic experience of an employee makes it feel like everyone in the organisation is singing off the same hymn sheet".


"When you are talking about purpose, how does it fit within the strategic narrative of the organisation?" – Christine Crofts


Christine Crofts from Diageo says that there is an increasing need for organisations to not just meet custoemr needs, but also appeal to your employee base and make them feel they're contirbuting to something worthwhile. And the cherry on top is a new evolution of purpose an aspirational call to action to make the world a better place. Can you bring in the sense of the difference you are making, to appeal to even the people who don't buy your products?

Outlining the difference between purpose, mission and values, Christine says:
– At its simplest, purpose is why you exist
Values are "the way we behave around here and to each other"
Identity is your history, your founders
Strategy: how are you going to win, the decisve actions you will take
– Your outcomes and milestones are how you measure how you have been successful
– Your tagline is how you try to communicate to your customer base.

Christine Crofts, global employee engagement director at Diageo: "The world in which we live is changing. It's moving super fast – millenials, generation Z and X – and it's all feeding in to the fact we need to move fast and do more with less, which is putting pressure on organisations to think, how can we squeeze more juice out of people? And purpose is top of the list.

"If you can connect people to purpose, you can turbo charge your organisation. That's why many start-ups with a social cause can create that supercharge engagement, which is translated to performance."



Our third speaker is Christine Crofts, global employee engagement director at Diageo, who made the leap from PR: "I realised internal comms was way cooler. The power of your employees and their interaction with your consumers is worth far more than column inches. Internal comms is where it's at."

Sue Palfrey of the National Trust concludes: "Look at what is happening externally and adapt it internally; don't relentlessly bash an IC model – if its not working, rip it up and start again; empathy is everything – step into your people's shoes. What are they emoitonally connected to?"
And, most importantly, says Sue: "Its not the action of what you do that matters, as it can be a really small thing, but the impact on people."

Sue says the internal comms team ripped apart the IC model of the board at the top of a pyramid, followed by executives, then senior management, then managers, with staff at the bottom.

"We set up a business partnering model instead," says Sue. "It took a year and a half. We went out and talked to people, so we could absorb what was going on, get into the communities, understand how the organisation worked. We attended events, built relationships, worked with leaders to find out what they wanted, eavesdropped, gossiped. We really listened to the rhythm of the Trust. We realised we werent going to get everyone, but we could get some of those core networks of people."


Sue Palfrey of the National Trust talks about one of the organisation's biggest scandals of the year: Scone-gate.

An image was posted on social media on behalf of the National Trust, promoting scones with cream first, jam second. Outrageous.

"You'd think we'd done something absolutely awful," laughs Sue. "Social media went crazy. We sparked uproar with our "disgusting" cream tea. We laughed it off – but this means we have to get it right for even this level of things."


A show of hands in the room suggests that most internal communicators go for jam first, then cream – but Sue makes it clear: "It's cream first and jam second. And it's scone (rhymes with gone)."


Sue Palfrey from the National Trust discusses the "new normal" world, where the media is watching every organisation and waiting to pounce.

"They are after our staff, they speak to our volunteers," she says. "They will jump on every line in the annual report. I think it's OK to be under scrutiny and have someone holding us to account, but internal communicators have a huge job to make sure their people understand their role in protecting the organisation."


Up next: Sue Palfrey from the internal communications team at National Trust, "a challenging, fascinating, unique organisation".


Summing up, Helen Schick of Alzheimer's Society, says: influence others – don't try and do it all yourself. Consider how much time you're spending enabling others; think about what you want people to know, but more about how you want them to feel and what you want them to do about it; consider content and delivery – how can you help people tell their stories in their own brilliant way? Finally, listen and respond – and react to feedback.

"People won't remember what you said and did, but they will remember how you made them feel." – Helen Schick, head of IC & engagement for the Alzheimer's Society.

Helen Schick, head of IC & engagement (ICE) for the Alzheimer's Society, discusses the charity's new brand. "Nothing we do at Alzhiemer's Society is for people with dementia – it's with people with dementia. We're not asking for change, we're demanding it. We want to be impossible to ignore – bold, passionate and inspiring."

How did the charity create powerful ambassadors for the brand? By doing everything in a collaborative space. Helen says they worked with a new mantra: "Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I'll remember. Involve me, I'll understand."

Also, the ICE team got full support from senior leaders and agreement that nothing would go external without going internal first. If your employees see something in the media or news before hearing about it from the organisation, that's demotivating.

Helen Schick, head of IC & engagement for the Alzheimer's Society: "If we create authentic brand ambasadors, we're creating people who can get that momentum going through genuine conversations and networks, and draw people to us. If you create a small snowball internally, it can roll, gather, build... so when you go external, you have that feeling of momentum supporting you."

Our first speaker is Helen Schick, head of IC & engagement for the Alzheimer's Society takes to the stage, to talk about the power people can have in delivering a brand. "How can internal communicators have people talking about us in a way that supports where we want to go and how we want to be seen?" she asks. "The brilliant thing about internal communication is you can ask your people. You have a captive audience."

IoIC chief executive Jennifer Sproul kicks off proceedings and shares her highlights from the past year: significant growth in membership – nearly 600 members joining. "It shows that we are determined to demonstrate our unique role and the value that we bring to business, and demonstrates the power internal communication has within organisations." Other highlights include the regional events, Voice magazine and the expansion of training.

The two most exciting things launched in the past few months are FutureNet, a "safe space" for newcomers to IC to share their skills and promote rising talent; and "after many months of hard work", and the relaunch of the Masters of Internal Communication with Southampton Solent University.

It's a full house in the Boardroom of the Hyatt. Everyone is taking their seats. Tea cups are clinking. Lots of chatter...


  • 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...
  • 14th June 2022
    After over 20 years of working in internal comms, Jo Bland, head of strategic engagement and internal communications at NHS Digital, has received a Fellowship in the profession. She tells us why...
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