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It’s been quite a year for new experiences. Over the past 12 months, IoIC has launched and trialled a number of ideas – many of which, for obvious reasons, were not on our agenda.

2021 will see us integrate what we have learned into our plan, balanced with proven techniques, while also – hopefully – re-introducing face-to-face formats.

IoIC chief executive Jennifer Sproul reflects: “2020 has taught us quite clearly the importance of community and how much members value opportunities that enable conversations and connections.

“How we work and learn has changed and we want to continue to offer members ways to engage with content in a way that suits them. We will continue to support members – and when we do return to face-to-face, we want to do something different. Hopefully, we’ll see you in the autumn.”

Membership experience

The bulk of our work in 2021 will be to enhance the membership experience to provide the best possible value.

The first half of the year will see the launch of a new online community, where members can come together to share issues and solve problems, discuss thought leadership and chat with other communicators in a safe place.

“We have other forums where people can engage, like our LinkedIn community, but this will be a place for members to connect with each other about everyday topics,” says Jennifer. “It will be a safe place to talk with peers. This continues our 2020 Shaping the future campaign, where we want IC to be part of the community – and this is about strengthening and supporting our own IC community.”

The members area on ioic.org.uk is being updated to be more navigational, so that members can quickly find everything they need – to download a factsheet, read content or ask questions in the new online community.

Events will focus on three core formats, which will remain free for members:

  • Webinars – for learning, with presentations, speakers and slides
  • Hubs are local networking events (currently Zoom-based, but face to face when possible) for likeminded professionals, often welcoming guest speakers
  • Huddles are virtual opportunities (Chatham House rules) for any members to come together to discuss topics and experiences.

2021 will see the launch of sector-based virtual conferences and – fingers crossed – the return of the face-to-face national event.

“Our hope is to deliver a new format for the annual conference in the autumn,” says Jennifer.

“We’ll still have leading-edge thinkers and insightful sessions, but we want to move away from the corporate hotel-style events of old to a more informal, festival-style gathering.”

We will, of course, continue to recognise outstanding internal communications through our Awards – and we hope to be able to celebrate in person too.

Professional development

In 2021, we will enhance our continuous professional development offering to ensure it remains accessible and practical.

When guidelines allow, we will take a hybrid learning and development approach. We look forward to the return of face-to-face training as full- and half-day courses when we can, though we will continue to offer all courses virtually, allowing people to learn in a location and situation that works for them.

All qualification programmes will continue to run virtually in 2021. The Masters in Internal Communication Management will be delivered online while restrictions remain in place, with face-to-face workshops returning when possible and students having the option to attend virtually or in person, and we are enhancing the online teaching element of the Advanced and Foundation Diplomas.

We will keep developing and introducing new training topics to meet the needs and challenges of today’s internal communicator – starting in January, with the debut of two courses that will help develop line managers’ communication skills.

Our #IChoseIC campaign is gaining momentum. In 2020, we engaged with various universities to raise awareness of internal comms as a career of choice among undergraduates, and we will continue this work in 2021, while also looking for more educational institutions who can promote internal communication to students and young people.

Also in 2021, we will launch a guide to appropriate hiring processes, to help IC employers build effective teams.

Thought leadership

Having joined the Government Communication Service’s Advisory Panel in 2020, IoIC will continue to seek new partnerships and relationships with external IC representatives to broaden its reach, gather new insight and identify new voices for our events.

Our two most recent factsheets – on Communicating redundancies and Leadership communication – are the latest in our series of peer-reviewed content for members.

In 2021, we will continue to invite IC experts and Masters alumni to write tactical and strategic content, which will include peer reviewed factsheets.

“As well as exploring new topics, we’ll delve deeper into areas we’ve already considered,” says Jennifer. “Our thought leadership will help IC practitioners make sense of the future world and respond to new challenges.”

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