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Ahead of next month’s IoIC Live conference, we spoke to some of our presenters to get a sneak preview into their insights and experience. Here, Sarah Meurer, head of internal communications at Nestlé UK&I, discusses how to deliver confident communications in an uncertain world.


From Brexit to climate change, stock market volatility to global political instability, we are living – and working – in increasingly chaotic times, when the pace of change is relentless. And with digital transformation and a 24/7 culture adding to the ever-changing needs of IC, how do we effectively communicate?

Nestle’s Sarah Meurer has plenty of insight, heading up internal communications in the UK&I market for the world’s largest food and beverage company. At IoIC Live in May, Sarah will share advice on adapting to change, regardless of your company’s size.


Shifting sands

Nestlé is a global company, with 2,000 brands in 190 countries worldwide. It is currently facing “a myriad of external influences”, says Sarah, creating a challenging and fascinating environment for communications.

“Of course, there’s Brexit,” she says. “As one of the largest manufacturers in the UK and Ireland, with thousands of employees based in our manufacturing sites, some of whom are non-UK citizens, we need to ensure our workforce feels supported.

“Then there’s the health agenda – we take many societal challenges very seriously, including the agenda around topics such as health and plastic waste, consulting with the UK government and advisory bodies to support an industry-wide approach. There is a lot of pressure on all companies to be ethical and have a commitment to high standards of CSR. However, Nestlé is a big company with the scale to make a significant difference and we take that responsibility extremely seriously.

“There’s also a hugely interesting buzz around the impact of AI and ensuring talent in new areas of expertise such as ecommerce. There is a lot of big trends happening around us right now.”

 

Adapting to survive

Sarah is no stranger to communicating difficult topics, having spent 17 years leading communication and change for companies such as GSK, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Centrica. But the new fast-paced digital age continues to throw up new challenges.

“Traditionally in internal communication, we’ve had well-thought-through comms plans, 12 months in advance, and we we’ve planned how we’re going to do things. Of course, we will have this, but now we’re seeing one-week to 24-hour turnarounds on large-scale communication and, as internal communicators, we still have to make sure it all fits together in a strong narrative for the organisation.

“We need to look at how we knit everything together so employees aren’t overwhelmed, while being transparent and informative.”


Taking on the challenge

At IoIC Live, Sarah will talk about different types of change communication – transformational change, organisation change and cultural change – and the different techniques she uses depending on what change the business is going through.

Another key topic is IC practitioners’ role in dealing with challenges.

“I find myself part of a corporate communications team that is at the forefront of some of these fundamentally important topics. As communicators, we are finding ourselves really challenging and championing our position, both internally and externally” says Sarah.

“Long gone are the days of internal corporate spin. People want and demand honest and transparent reality, which can sometimes feel uneasy to deliver.

“We need to challenge ourselves and the businesses to ensure we are talking about what consumers really need and want in the future, even if it doesn’t always immediately resonate with every part of our brand portfolio.”

 

Hear more from Sarah, and a host of other IC professionals, at this year’s IoIC Live, in Bath, 9-10 May. Sarah’s presentation will be followed by an interactive session where you’ll have an opportunity to discuss key challenges your organisation is facing with peers and together create a framework that will help to prepare and equip internal communicators, whatever the future may hold.  There’s still time to book. Download the programme and book your place here

 

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