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Better Connected - IoIC North’s sell-out event - attracted IC professionals from across the north, and beyond.

Such was its popularity, people turned up on the door to get in. Ambitions for the event were to connect IC colleagues across the north, share ideas, best practice and build a sustainable network of local hubs of communicators. Glowing feedback suggests the event delivered on those ambitions and the future looks promising for effective local and regional IoIC networks in the North.

IoIC Event Film from Words & Pictures on Vimeo.

Better Connected tried to turn the conference format on its head with speaker sessions followed by communications clinics. Each table, led by facilitators, discussed the issues relating to the topic, shared ideas, forging solutions and devising action plans. Snowballs were thrown across the room and connections made.
The day got off to an upbeat, energetic start with an animated, musical road-trip of northern talent, culture and communication heritage. After a welcome from regional director Andy Holt, IoIC’s chief executive Jennifer Sproultalked of the benefits of IoIC membership, building the regions, forthcoming developments and IoIC’s educational and professional development offering.
After a quick ice breaker to get everyone in the mood, the first speaker was PZ Cusson’s, and formerly Well Pharmacy’s, head of global communications, Gill Galassi. Gill gave a fascinating insight on how to realign employees with a new brand position and ways of working. She explained how their people had been taken on a journey from Co-operative Pharmacy, with its community and socialist principles, to the new Bestway-owned brand Well. It was a fascinating story of transformation, realignment, embedding values and clever implementation. It even included a spot of magic thanks to Gill’s card trick metaphor!
Next, VMA’s internal comms practice director Andrew Harvey offered guidance on how to prepare for the changing IC landscape. His data-driven insights underlined a mantra of education, education education! When combined with a call to never accept the average, get better connected and innovate differently hit a chord with the room.
Strategy and how to better connect your people to purpose came next as a double bill. First up was Direct Line Group’s head of internal communications, brand and engagement, Paul Diggins(pictured right). Paul delivered an impressive, joined up story of the company’s Launchpad strategy. At the heart of the strategy was a quirky, experiential event for managers involving building a conference out of packing crates. Linked with live filming and supporting digital ideas-generation and social channels it provided a best practice example in engagement.
Pauline Prow, chief people officer at Monarch Airlines, followed. Monarch’s journey was an equally enthralling story of rescue, restructuring and successful turnaround. Creating an ongoing conversation with colleagues and building on a love of the company. Pauline and her team created an uplifting campaign “about the people and for the people”. By building an effective network of ‘True North Ambassadors’ (linked to the strategy) a can do culture was cemented and the destination now looks sunny for Monarch.
The afternoon was ignited by video visionary Stuart Warrington from Superla. His high octane and humorous insights into the best and worst of technologies really hit the mark. All of this was underpinned by sound advice, creativity and cutting edge technology. Following his speech, delegates got a hands-on opportunity to experience 360 video with the team.
and NWG’s internal comms manager, Jane Lawrence, share her experiences of creating and building a local hub of IC professionals in the North East. Drawn from a variety of industries and sectors, the group meet regularly to discuss issues, ideas, share best practice and network. This session gave practical, hands-on guidance to the final session where delegates were asked to move from their table (all tables were named after northern cities or towns) to join a group closer to their home town and agree their group local action plan.
Finally, the day wrapped up with an uplifting video snapshot of the day, filmed and edited on the day by the Superla team and a stampede to The Landing’s funky bar commenced. Feedback of the event has been extremely positive, locals hubs are already organising get togethers and the majority rated the event as excellent. Ten new IoIC Members were recruited and the North team feel that there is now a real momentum in the North and an increased appetite for further events and networking. Next up the Central and North Awards planning!
Institute chief executive Jennifer Sproul summed up: &qu The next drop-off on the Better Connected journey was to hear from Best Western’s director of communications, Andrew Denton, and corporate communications executive, Kate Bromley. This sensory presentation kick-started with perfume samples being distributed to the room. Andrew went on to explain how a perfume advert became the inspiration for distilling Best Western’s company purpose. Kate then explained how Best Western’s embedding of their purpose was an approach of one of tempering, not refreezing! The room was then asked to consider the scent of their organisation.
If the room needed a case study in head and heart and how to employ personal power The Leadership Trust’s head of marketing, Jan Coulthurst, and senior specialist in communications and engagement, Victoria Wright, supplied it. This interactive session challenged the room to consider whether they were lefties or righties. This wasn’t a political conundrum, but one that provoked all to consider how they apply influence and utilise their personal power influencing managers.
The last session saw IoIC Communicator of the Year ot;I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved for putting on such a fantastic day,  it was full of great content and so professionally put together.  I really enjoyed it and was great to see much energy in the room and I think this is the start of something great for IoIC North."
There's a gallery of pictures from Better Connected available to view on IoIC's Facebook page.
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