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Well, it’s 2017, and a brand new year full of promise. For IoIC North, our key focus is producing an exciting and memorable IoIC Central and North Awards celebration.

After receiving an outstanding volume of entries, from our two regions, it bodes well for a glittering night of celebration at the National Railway Museum in York on 16th March. The night is going to be an impressive showcase of talent and IC excellence in our regions and a first-class opportunity to network, celebrate and have fun.
We look forward to seeing you all there!
In June we’ll be looking to host our next Better Connected event. Planning is underway and we look forward to announcing our plans following the awards in March. After last year’s sell-out success, we are aiming to build on the connections made and the local success of the Better Connected hubs held throughout Autumn and Winter 2016. So, better late than never, here’s a series of short round-ups from the regional hubs. If you didn’t make any of these hubs then, hopefully, they should give you a taste of what was discussed. If you made it, thanks for your input, it was invaluable in making these sessions so productive. This year, we look forward to seeing even more of you at the upcoming hubs and, of course, the Awards Celebration Dinner in York!
For more details, click here
All of us know that in this region we have a vibrant and impressive collection of communicators, and it is great to see IoIC North going from strength to strength and fully steaming ahead to success. Let’s keep it up folks!

Andy Holt, IoIC Northern Region Director

Better Connected York hub: Report: Andy Douse
The local hub event in York took place on Friday 16th September, at a café in the city centre. It was organised by Andy Douse, from Red Publications, who promoted it on social media to drum up interest beforehand. About a dozen people initially showed an interest, but this fell away in the days before and we eventually ended up with eight people.
Before the event, Andy asked people if they had any challenges, questions or issues they would like to discuss.
This formed the basis of the ‘agenda’ for the event, which ran from 10am until 12 noon. The small number actually worked well because the group could sit around a big round table and everyone got a chance to talk, contribute and listen. It was very informal and covered a multitude of topics.
The group agreed to meet up again and go out for a few drinks afterwards (date of next meeting tbc). In terms of frequency, it was agreed every six months seemed about right for people.

North East IC Forum hub: Report: Jane Clayton

The NE IC Forum got together in September and was kindly hosted by Gateshead College. As the Forum has been running for a couple of years, there were some old faces as well as some new ones who had signed up following the IoIC North Better Connected event. There are now 23 members of the Forum ranging from local, national and even global-reaching audiences. The companies include Nissan, BT, Formica, Sage and The Big Lottery Fund.

The meetings are always a useful opportunity to catch up with everyone and find out what people have been working on so there’s always lots of noise (and cake…there’s always cake). At the last meeting we discussed a variety of
topics including tone of voice – who has one, what tools do they use and how do you get your managers to use it, segmenting communications – who does this well, how are they measuring its success, agile working and supporting managers of agile teams, and digital versus print – is the age of print really over?

Has digital taken over and how many companies are bringing back print? There was a lot of healthy debate and conversation, and we all went away with lots of inspiration and a feeling that we have support and somewhere to go
for advice if we need it.
The next meeting is due to take place in the New Year. Venue to be announced.

Better Connected Manchester hub: Report: Tracey Collinge
The first meeting of the Manchester IoIC Hub took place on the evening of Thursday 29th September at WRG’s offices in Manchester, hosted by committee members Tracey Collinge and Steve Moffatt. We made our first meeting an open house discussion so that the group could explore how they wanted the sessions to work.

It was great to start the meeting with such honesty. So everyone stated their reasons for attending and what would make them continue to attend future meetings.

A consistent theme throughout the discussion was learning.

Most of the team wanted to learn about areas of Internal Communications that would help support them in their individual roles. Everyone in the room was at a different stage in their profession and from varied sectors, so therefore had different challenges ahead of them. So for them to be able to use these sessions as sharing and learning experiences would be vital.
There was also a consensus in the room that many events and networking groups were predominantly London centric, so to be able to establish a stronger presence, over time, would be a great objective. Another key topic of conversation was the lack of knowledge of the IoIC and what support they offered. It was proposed that we would invite the new IoIC CEO, Jennifer Sproul, to the next session so she could talk about the training programmes available and the plans and strategy for the IoIC.

Our next meeting has been confirmed for the 19th January, to be held at Thomas Cook’s offices at Manchester Airport. We have sent out a survey to ask our team what subject areas they want to cover off and our plan is then to have one member of the team leading in that area, with a facilitated discussion to follow. Jennifer has also agreed to attend. We may also move the meeting to the afternoon, to make it easier for everyone to attend. Click here to book
Better Connected Leeds hub: Report: Steve Moffatt and Joe Stoyles

The inaugural meeting for the Leeds IoIC hub on 14th October was kindly hosted by Leeds Building Society and included representatives from 16 different organisations. It was great to see so many local IC representatives in one
place. It turned out to be an insightful and energetic Friday afternoon session, culminating in an absorbing “focused discussion” about the combined priority internal communication issues faced by the team.

IoIC Regional Director Andy Holt gave the team plenty of food for thought as he presented the classes for the IoIC Central and North Awards and encouraged everyone to submit their entries. Steve Moffatt then introduced an exercise designed to help people get to know each other better, feel relaxed and settled. Individuals were asked to share two truths and one lie, with the rest of the team tasked with the painstaking choice of weeding out the untruths. Needless to say, some of the truths proved pricklier than the lies!

Steve then led the team through a brainstorming and prioritising session to unlock common themes and challenges that will form the three focus areas that will feature in future meetings and these were:

1.Engaging and upskilling our middle managers
2. Integrating social platforms such as Yammer
3. Working collaboratively across the business and breaking down silos

The team then had an opportunity to engage in “focused discussions” on one of the three topics to create alignment and gather subject matter to help the committee design these future sessions.
What’s next?

We are working on a venue for our next session on 16th February and will soon be confirming the nature of the topic from our top three. In the meantime, we are looking to uncover some case studies that serve to highlight the above
issues, or that we can use as best practice to add to the content mix. More details to follow.
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