Fan Girl Dating Data

Swap ‘Why is this happening to me?’ to ‘What is this trying to teach me?’. It will change everything.
— Jay Shetty
ef874193-83a0-48b0-9ccf-673681cfe2e3.jpg

I have been a busy fangirl. I ‘bumped’ into Jay Shetty on my way back to my desk after lunch at work. You can google him now. I have been following Jay for a few years, and his content is inspirational but what I find quite remarkable is his ethos about stepping outside of your comfort zone and perspective.

Over the last few weeks, I have been attending events and having naughty post-event blowouts. The calories gained will be burned off when I start training for the Royal Parks Half Marathon that I am running for the Taylor Bennett Foundation.

I headed to Twickenham for the Employee and Engagement Conference London. There were some recurring themes throughout the day as the award winners presented their campaigns.

 

•    Use of data and insight to inform internal communication and employee engagement strategy.    

•    Diversity and inclusion initiatives, “should quotas be removed?”   

•    Solving the mental health crisis.   

•    Breaking the Myth: “Do Employees Leave Managers, not Companies.”  

•    Implementing Workplace by Facebook. Barriers for adoption and the success stories UNICEF and lastminute.com. 

•    Reinventing recognition schemes in the public sectors with limited budgets.

Ade Cheatham  - CEO - Cooper Parry

Ade Cheatham - CEO - Cooper Parry

There were a few presentations that stood out from Ryan from Hive and Kate from Beyond.

Ryan Tahmassebi, Head of Delivery, Hive HR    

•    How to use survey tools to manage change and create effective questions for engagement.    

•    Overcoming cultural challenges when embedding new HR technologies.  

•    Moving from annual surveys to ongoing feedback for a more meaningful employee experience.   

Businesses have now realised that the more they spend on development and employee experience the better the customer experience will be.   

Why aren't we getting employee engagement right? We seem to be missing critical insights provided by data. Some businesses are now trailing a metric that focuses on ‘Are you having a good day?’ This is a measure of physical and emotional energy.   

Could the solution be adopting an integrated approach for employee engagement that looks at   

•    Meaningful Work     

•    Great Management    

•    Fantastic Environment   

•    Growth Opportunity   

•    Trust in Leadership   

  Based on Bersin by Deloitte Engagement Model

 

Some of the key considerations when implementing an employee engagement campaign  

•    The employee life cycle.   

•    How data is used to craft a narrative to justify the organisations' objectives.   

•    The truth behind response rates and whether the data can be trusted if incentives are attached.   

•    An understanding of the current organisational culture and subcultures. Because introducing new technology doesn’t change a culture.   

•    Real thought and time to test new initiatives.  

    

Kate Rand – People Director, Beyond  

Thinking differently about our people, diversity and inclusion initiatives, agile evangelist and total wellness. A great example of cross-agency collaboration through Flipside which tackles socio-economic diversity. 

  

I went to my first Sharing Social London Event at Runway East. The theme of the meet-up was audience intelligence - what is it and what can you achieve with it. Having data and insight about audiences is something that is becoming more important as the competition for attention gets tougher.

How then does a brand or organisation extract value from existing data and make that a base for their strategy? The two speakers shared best practice and tips on how to get started. 

Emily McReynolds, Passion Digital - How can social analysis be used to inform decisions?

Key Takeaways

 

·       Start with what you have. Social listening, brand sentiment, existing audience intelligence, historical data and trends analysis, competitor data, and previous campaign data.

 ·       Develop questions that guide your data analysis and don’t look for the answers that you want.

·       Insights can inform more than messaging and tone of voice. Effective use can also help with making decisions on media spend, product and service opportunities.

Ben Davies, Media Chain

Ben Davies, Media Chain

 

Ben Davies, Media Chain - Gaming The System: An exploration into the world of gaming and social media. His talk was based on the report Gaming the system? An exploration into the world of gaming and social media

 

Key Takeaways

·       Create a map of what insights and data you are looking for, i.e. Demographics, lifestyle, spending power, social habits, media consumption patterns, and interests.  

·       Brands should build and enhance experiences instead of invading spaces. An example of a brand that has already done some great work in this area is Mercedes-Benz.   

·       The key is value, content and community.

Check out Media Chain’s research and insight reports into Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2018 partnership opportunities and Navigating the next generation fan: How football is social. I will be keeping an eye on their work as we gear up for the Rugby World Cup in September.

 

I've been reviewing themes and examples from the recent Adobe Experience Festival. The Always On, Always Personal, Always Relevant session by Matthew Harwood, Head of Digital Solutions, Royal Bank of Scotland was a snapshot into how RBS transformed the way they think about their business. It is not only about technology and data, but people & process have also been essential to their success.

·       More timely, more relevant and a better understanding of the customers has better results.

·       Spend as much time as possible with frontline staff, and build a closed-loop of feedback.

·       Bring the customer experience to life. In banking, a customer connects with buying a home rather than the process of acquiring a mortgage.

·       As channels change and your strategy evolve there is a need for the ecosystem to grow too.

Check out Data and research in PR by Claire Simpson as it’s a great place to start.

Dancing and Finding Joy

In my imagination, Viola Davis is my ‘auntie’, but my family are concealing this information from me. I am going to borrow a pearl of wisdom from her to briefly explain my take on a piece of not so breaking news that came out recently. While accepting her Emmy in 2015 for outstanding actress in a drama series for her portrayal as professor Annalise Keating on “How to Get Away with Murder, she said, “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You can not win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there." I mention this in the week when Twitter is awash with claims of Beyonce refusing to work with Reebok because of their lack of diversity, and the CIPR State of the Profession is published — showing that our industry is becoming less diverse and failing to protect the mental health of its professionals.

If diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being allowed to dance, then who is the DJ playing the music or the bouncer at the door enforcing the 'guest list' with the VIP’s who have the proverbial red carpet rolled out and the velvet rope raised for them. Some days I feel like this industry is one long evening of a silent disco. If you have never been to one, it is a fun but unusual experience. We are all wearing our various headphones each tuned to a different channel. On the dance floor we patiently wait for the DJ to work his magic, but sadly he may not switch on the music for everyone so they simply can’t dance. Because as my wise ‘aunt’ mentioned if the opportunities aren’t being offered then how do we ensure that we have true inclusion. If you don’t give me the chance to lead the teams, speak at conferences on communications and public relation principles, design campaigns and advance to positions that hold real power and influence then how do you expect me to win the awards or sing the melody of inclusiveness.

Comms over coffee

Ella Minty shared, Fixing the Flawed Approach to Diversity by BCG, which unpicks the defects of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Nodding to advancement and retention as a gap for inclusivity of BAME talent gives what Viola mentioned weight. Hiring diverse talent to fill quotas and then failing to nurture talent to move further in their careers to reach their full potential is similar to an employer and our industry selling us the artistic impressions, but choosing not to build the house year after year but keep referring to the plans.

So, I am at the party, and I am going to dance because the DJ is giving me a song to dance to and Polly Cziok has promised to bring the cocktails.

A full list of different blogs and articles analysing the report can be found here.

Now on to more joyous matters. This week I attended an evening with Bruce Daisley, EMEA Vice President of Twitter, author of best-selling book The Joy of Work and the host of the podcast Eat Sleep Work Repeat. I highly recommend the podcast for anyone interested in internal communications.

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Bruce explored many things that I will go into further in future posts as I study more and dive into the book. I am going to outline some of my key takeaways from the evening and what I am changing.

  • We need to future proof ourselves by upskilling in the areas of inventiveness and creativity.

  • The hustle culture as it’s popularly known which glorifies working dangerously long hours is contour productive to creativity.

  • Positive Affect and Psychological Safety have the most significant impact on workplace culture.

  • For an internal communications professional there is a danger of trying to implement quick fixes. At times organisations can create the ‘Smoothie delusion’ that tries to put everyone in a good mood, through improving the benefits that have a one time impact but they do little to transform the state of mind.

  • As Bruce explained, “There are no simple hacks to resolve these things, you need to think about a system to resolve these things to try and build a state of positive affect using far more strategic long term approaches.”

  • Psychological safety doesn’t scale. Amy Edmondson which Bruce references to said, “For fear of appearing ignorant we don’t ask questions, for fear of appearing obstructive we don’t raise objections, we are at a state of managing the impression.”

  • Systems of fear kill our capacity to be creative. But even more, concerning is how fear and stress linger in the air like a bad hangover.

What I am changing:

  • Turning off my notifications

  • Taking a lunch break away from my desk as much as possible

  • Have more face to face interactions

  • Foster an atmosphere of collaboration

  • Develop techniques to improve my energy efficiency

Find an extract of the book on the podcast and I will share my thoughts soon. If you can’t wait listen to Sally’s take on the podcast #CU on the air.

Part 3: Broke Girls Guide to Professional Development in Communications

Rugby has been a part of my life since I was about 15 years old. I have seen friends break bones, shared pints with legends and never had anyone mansplain the offside rule to me.

I try to reserve spamming my social media timelines for the World Cup season, so feel free to mute me in September. However, last Saturday I broke this self-imposed rule because the Calcutta Cup showdown between England and Scotland was spectacular.  In his post-match interview, Scotland's Finn Russell said in a BBC interview, “At half-time, I had an argument with Gregor [Townsend] because nothing was working. We just came out in the second half with nothing to lose”. I think of how Scotland lost to Australia in the final minutes of the 2015 quarterfinals and wonder if this is a team that plays best when they decide they have nothing to lose? And what springs to mind is a caution I was once given along the lines of; the most dangerous opponent is the one who has nothing to lose.

So, for this post, I am drawing inspiration from a quote from Steve Hansen, the Head coach of the All Blacks and have asked for some tips, hints and advice from our incredible Comms network. 

You learn from everybody. Every encounter you have with a human being, or even animals, if your mind is open, you’ll learn something. If it’s not, you’ll go through life learning nothing.
— Steve Hansen
  • Look outside: Take advantage of our wealthier cousins advertising, marketing and tech. It may sound strange but an actual past time of mine is to get lost in the ‘Our Work ‘page of agencies. Last year during London Tech Week, I went for a few of the free or low-cost evening events and learnt so much. I will be keeping my eye on Ad Week to see what themes, conversations, and trends emerge. You don't have to go to Cannes Lions  Festival to see what the best in the Ad world are doing watch the best of 2018 online for inspiration and check out the website to see what is coming through this June. In January Darren Caveney, arranged an agency day for the LGComms Future leaders and summarised it in a post be fierce and never mediocre – 28 lessons from a top creative agency.  You will find that there is a lot of crossovers.  Brand guru James Kerr wrote one of my favourite business books which is inspired by the All Blacks but is drenched in employee engagement tips, strategy and communications principles. Go further afield for learning whether that be in terms of industry or location. Draw inspiration from across the ponds. What behavioural science, strategy or creative ideas can we learn from sports, psychology, business, entertainment and the military.  

My best advice is to read and read. Don’t get stuck in your lane. Every time you see a comms response try to unpick the story, spot best practice, tactics but from every industry not just your own. That and get a mentor but not always as easy.
— Sam Hodges, Director of Content Communications (EMEA) at Netflix,
  •  Collaboration: It may be the new buzz word, but it rings true. Come together with others and form communities that are built with the goal or learning, sharing and developing each other. Start a culture in your organisation and beyond of sharing the knowledge from training, conferences, events and campaigns. Why not invite someone for lunch with your team or set-up a group call to work out a problem together. Face to face events have a cost attached to them, but many professionals are happy to spare a lunch hour or evening to have a chat about ideas. Over the last few months, I have organised quite a number of these sessions over the phone with senior people talking about a range of things from Artificial Intelligence, development courses, job interview prep and idea development. Even if you don’t have anyone to share with yet start building a collection, so you are ready as you look for your tribe.

Whatever one colleague gains bring it back to the team. In other words, share the learning around so the team and the organisation benefit. That’s definitely the main one. If you’re a larger team and need some core skills, consider commissioning a bespoke version of a set piece for your whole team. It is good for team dynamics as well as learning. I’d say be selective about it if budgets are tight.

— Georgia Turner  1/3 of Comms Unplugged and Head of  Communication and Marketing, Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole
  • What are you entitled to: Understand your organisation's policy on training, development and allowances for registrations to professional bodies. Get savvy on what you qualify for and how you can ensure you get what you need, i.e. does it need to be in your appraisal or are you entitled because of your role or because of the business your organisation is. If you can register with a professional body make all effort to do the CPD, be on committee’s if you can to network and ask questions.

  • Say Yes: One yes has the power to change everything. It can be hard in the beginning, but it creates a domino effect. One ‘Yes’ changes everything as Josephine Graham shared in her blog post, “What if….?“ for Comms Unplugged.    

Learn from those you work with and be situationally aware. Find a mentor you trust and can share dilemmas with. Use all available free resources (in particular research articles on google.scholar, ResearchGate and ScienceDirect - buy an individual subscription which is not expensive at all). Leadership and Development should be replicable regardless of the industry/role one works in so you need to have an excellent grasp of their general applicability.
— Ella Minty Co-Chair @CIPR_UK Energy Leadership Platform; Chart. PR; @ILM_UK Fellow; #powerandinfluence founder.
  • Mark your own work: I know it sounds brutal but at the end of match teams and players do a de-brief so that they work on their weak area for the next game. Create a benchmark by which you score your campaigns and content. Whether that be the OASIS model or by industry awards standards. From that identify the areas where you need to grow. For example, measurement of campaign objectives, or public speaking skills.  If you are at a higher level why not start judging awards so you can get a better understanding of what is happening in the industry.

There’s loads of stuff out there for free online - TED talks, podcasts, blogs, Twitter chats etc. Maybe look at accessing some of this together with other team members to share and discuss what you learn and make it more collaborative and interactive. Also, make sure anyone in the team who does get some development from that precious budget brings it back and shares with the team. Think of fun and active ways to do this and get people involved rather than talking at people. Choose your learning opportunities carefully so that they really meet a need and you can implement what you learn. Make those pennies count. Finally - learn by doing.  Just try stuff - explore, create and be curious. Oh and books. Good old-fashioned books (Or audiobooks if you prefer). Do book swaps, get recommendations from people. But going analogue is a great way to feed your brain in a more relaxed, peaceful way going at your own pace.
— Sally Northeast, 1/3 of Comms Unplugged and the Deputy Director for OD, Communication and Participation at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust .

Find the gap and sidestep: What are the unexplored ideas, the unwritten stories and the unanswered questions that you can hone in on? A perfect example of this is the informative blog post by Lisa Potter, "Learning on The Go Making time to learn new things." in which she provides her perspective and fills a gap in content. Another is Comms Hero who are giving me so much FOMO at the moment with their exciting and fun conferences.

I really hope this series has been helpful and please leave your comments below or share on Linkedin and Twitter. My vision for this space was that it be a place of experimenting and learning, so posts like this are special.

Some starter Newsletter to subscribe or websites to check out.

  •  Digital Buzz Blog

  • Hubspot’s Marketing Blog

  • Campaign Live

  • Buzzfeed  Adweek

  • The Marketing Society

  • Creativepool Daily,

  • Social Media Today

  • Gorkana

  • DigiDay Tech Crunch

  • Social Media Today

  • The Verge

  • Marketing Dive

  • The Drum

     

Podcasts to try

  • IPA AdTalk, CNN Boss Files,

  • Virgin Voom

  • Campaign podcast

  • Connected Podcast

  • Eat Sleep Work Repeat

  • NPR How I Built This

  • Marketing Week

  • O Behave

  • Ogilvy

  • Secret Leaders

  • The IABC EMENA Podcast

  • The Drum

  • Innovation Ecosystem

  • Strategy Skills

  • HBR Ideacast

  • The McKinsey Podcast

  • Madison & Culture with David Sable

  • Ice Cream for Everyone with Willem van der Horst

  • The Bottom Line

  • Vergecast, Pivot hosted by Kara Swisher & Scott Galloway

  • The Green Room, Connected

  • Secret Leaders

  • How to Make Brands Real Famous,  

Awww you Don’t Know What AI is?


 

 

Has anyone else seen the MacDonald’s advert? You know the one, where all someone needs is an answer to the question, What is a flat white?

Well, I am every person in that ad and at the end of my version is Kerry Sheehan who kindly answers my conundrum, what does AI mean for Public Relations and Communications professions? I ran to her with all my questions about artificial intelligence.



Now I have been around AI for a while, but I naively thought that I was secure because the robots aren’t writing the press releases yet or designing the agenda for the employee engagement events, so why care. But I too had to confront the existence that we now live and work in. In my day job I am surrounded by smart people who are well plugged into their niches and fields of expertise, so after our Women’s Day breakfast, a conversation started about how AI  has become a stumbling block for women when applying to specific companies. The data that has been inputted is biased. The example of Amazon who had to scrap their AI recruiting tool as it showed bias against women. A colleague has since shared with me how AI is being used in the legal profession and examples from my world internal communications. Although there are already examples such as Attuned in Japan, Xexec, Yva, Trustsphere and Kronos. On further exploration, I discovered work being done by start-ups such as Fuel 50 and Gloat which will most definitely be taking me down a hole of learning. I want understand how AI can help us with employee engagement?  How are companies such as Microsoft already using AI to boost employee engagement? Find resources for Microsoft employee engagement summit 2018 here.  

I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. I mean with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.
— Elon Musk warned at MIT’s AeroAstro Centennial Symposium

It isn’t, however, all doom and gloom, I came to the realisation that AI in a way has been my saving grace. I am dyslexic and so 12 years ago when I started out as a young journalist, I struggled immensely and had to take a break from the media because of it. Today I have tools such as Grammarly which were non-existent. I have something that can help me develop my writing skills and gave me the confidence to come back into the industry five years ago. I'm now writing again, am working in the profession I love.  

So what can one do to equip themselves for the ever-changing world? I remember being at Best and scanning through piles of nationals and dailies to clip the stories that would make great features of the magazine or going through look books every season, that now is a thing of the past. We all now have the freedom in my communications role to focus on mapping out change and developing new creative ways to communicate.

I want to share Kerry’s advice to me from our conversation which I hope helps anyone who is sometimes overwhelmed by all the new changes like me.

 

Start reading and learning about it. What is try AI and what is automation?

  • Understand what skills are in danger and where you need to equip yourself. The CIPR AI committee has produced a skills wheel, #AIinPR in 5 years, it is a concise and clear breakdown of where we are a profession. Where are we using AI now and how do we ensure we get the most out of it. Some ideas that come to mind are media monitoring, sentiment analysis, personalisation and audience segmentation.

Image courtesy of CIPR #AIinPR

Image courtesy of CIPR #AIinPR

 

 

This week has been very exciting as the Institute of Internal Communications celebrated its 70th birthday. I headed to the London region launch event.  It was great to meet other Internal comms professionals and talk about our profession. Check our Rachel Dakin, IOIC London Director’s Video with Shootsta.

 

IOIC 70th Comms Over Coffee

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 3 of Broke Girls Guide to Professional Development in Communications, there are a few surprises planned. You can read part One and Two  here, and the unexpected post Broke Girl’s Pleas to Conference Producers .

Please head over to the CIPR AI which has  some excellent resources to help you start laying the foundations and deepen your understanding of AI and automation. I recommend this week’s episode of The Internal Comms Podcast with Katie Macaulay and her guest Stephen Waddington aka @wadds.

This week has been a bit of a blur, but I did manage to listen to the astounding Dave Trott on beating creative blindness, (live from IAB Leadership Summit) on Bruce Daisley’s very insightful podcast Eat Sleep Work Repeat. I'm looking forward to The Joy of Work: An evening with Bruce Daisley, EMEA Vice President of Twitter hosted by the IOIC on 5th April. Sally Northeast shares her learning from the book in the latest episode of of #CU on The Air podcast, listen here

Please do let me know your thoughts and experiences with AI in Comms, PR, Marketing, and  Advertising as I want to learn and share experiences.

Broke Girls Pleas to Conference Producers

I like nice things. I adore my Frank and Green coffee cups, yes, I have more than one, I need choices as I do my bit to save the ocean. I love my Aldo boot collection because it’s the only shoe shop that seems to have stylish footwear that fit me and I cherish my Marks & Spencer granola slices. As much as these things make me sound like a snob, these small luxuries all fall neatly into a modest budget, that my salary bracket can accommodate.

What does, however, make my eyes water is the cost of industry conferences. I am very passionate about professional learning and development. I think that communications and Public Relations pros should be given the opportunity to network, share ideas and develop authentic in-person relationships. Recently I wrote two blog posts, with the title ‘Broke Girls Guide to Professional Development in Communications’ and as I begin thinking about part 3, I am struggling to suggest conferences, because of their cost. There is an undercurrent of rumblings which is calling our industry to do better in many areas, but it is time our professional bodies and the influential voices began to holding organisers to account, on the cost, content and location of events.


While I understand that on this subject I speak from a place of privilege because I now work for a company that has a rather forward-thinking view on learning and development. I believe that I would not have this job if I hadn’t been given professional development opportunities. That is why I care about how much things cost and content. Why throw the ladder down at those coming up behind you, when you have climbed to the next level, a nugget I got from Dr Rosena Allin-Khan at the Marie Claire’s Future Shapers event 2018.

The glaring lack of young voice on conference line-ups is worrying. As we fix our crowns and halos with our International Women’s Day glow still fresh, can we address our industries failure to do anything that celebrated or acknowledged the outstanding young women in our space? While I respect the graft of those who have gone before me and sit at their feet, we need more peer to peer support and a space that encourages this. Apprentices, communications assistants and junior executives of all genders, races and backgrounds need to be able to see themselves and know it is possible. Are we an industry that celebrates them now, or only after 20 years in.

Comms Unplugged Marquees by Night - Courtesy of Comms Unplugged

Comms Unplugged Marquees by Night - Courtesy of Comms Unplugged

An example of this is at last year’s Granicus Summit in London, the outstanding Connie Osborne presented Crisis Comms - Managing Manchester's Darkest Hour. It’s a testament to the leadership of Amanda Coleman, the Head of Corporate Communications at Manchester police who is one of the most respected people in public relations, and it is clear to see why she encourages younger people in her team to shine. Please note that when I say young, I don’t merely mean in age, I also refer to industry experience or role. I am only a year into specialising in internal communications, but I too have something to add to the discussion, an award shortlist in my first year. Which is why I am grateful for platforms such as the Institute of Internal Communication’s FutureNet initiative. Comms Unplugged is a pioneering event that is extremely well run and has all the elements of what makes a conference great. As someone shared in the Comms Unplugged what’s app group recently, “Give me a pizza and a night in a tent for a fraction of the price over a gala dinner and a night in the Hilton any day”. The popularity of the Comms Hive dinners being organised by Advitia, the Chair of CIPR Insider is evident that we need inclusive alternatives. It was cheaper for me last year to see Bruno Mars in VIP, Ed Sheeran at Wembley and Kevin Hart in San Francisco combined than one ticket to many industry events. It put the guilt I have about living my youth into perspective.

In case you missed the news, on the other side of the aisle, our counterparts in the public sector are grappling with austerity. High conference fees are unjustifiable when it comes to balancing the budget at the end of the year. As one senior professional in communications shared, it would cost her almost £900 for a day conference and expenses. While many would willingly dip into their own pockets and are, for the benefit of their own careers. What example does this set for future generations, the best events are reserved for the high rollers? I applaud the LGComms Future Leaders Scheme and mentoring programmes such as BME Pros, but places are limited. We need sustainable solutions that can accommodate a wider audience and encompass pros at all levels. While I also argue that not everyone has their sights set on being a director of Communications or being a consultant, opportunities for growth and development should be accessible regardless of their career ambition for their current or future roles.

Throughout my entire career, I have been lucky enough to find a way to network and interact with people who have influence and have the power to make a difference. From Terri White, Hugh Muir, Sam Baker, to the wonderful men and women I have informal mentoring relationships with today. But a lot of these relationships were formed because I was in the right place at the right time. A room I paid to be in, at times.

We are an industry that is rewarded to craft narratives, but what story are we telling about ourselves when our flagship events fail to reflect the vibrant, inclusive industry we wish to see.

Part 1: Broke Girls Guide to Professional Development in Communications

If you are not frightened, you are not original.
— Jimmy Iovine

Saturday mornings are my favourite time of the week. Regardless of whether I am doing a spin class, grabbing brunch with a friend or having a lie in after one too many glasses of Merlot the night before in my very Olivia Pope wine glass.

This one, however, has been the first one of the year that I am able to settle into myself because I have been consumed by the process of finding and starting a new job. Life inevitably keeps ticking over even if you have interviews to attend and presentations to nail the day job still needs to be done and to the highest standard.

So this morning I said bye to my brother who has been over from San Francisco and decided to finally watch the Netflix docuseries The Defiant Ones and Fyre - The greatest party that never happened, which I highly recommend.

But this week during #Powerandinfluence chat The Challenges of Public Sector Communications with Darren Caveney I promised that I would pen a broke comms girls guide to professional development and give an insight into what has helped me, so while I recover from the rugby let me start putting something together. If you take one thing away from this blog post, it is to have an idea of where you want to go with your career and take responsibility for making that happen. This is the first part, which is written for anyone who has zero budget to do anything.



  • Have a plan: In the last few years I have begun to think much more critically, and one of the things that has helped me do this is the blueprint I designed for myself of what success looks like for me. In my case, it’s been an evolving piece of work, but I have a notebook that I regularly visit and brain dump my vision onto. I then map out how I am going to get there craving out a roadmap. That way my energy is channelled in the right direction and focussed.

  • What problem are you trying to solve: Before you begin to think about what training and development you want to go on, start by mapping out what problem you are trying to solve for yourself and the organisation that you work for. There are many courses or books that I could pick, but I always ask how does this ultimately fit in strategically. For example, if you work in public sector communications, the biggest challenge in the sector is finding ways of making the communications function commercially viable and gaining real influence in the organisation, for someone with a digital role it is to prove the ROI of your online activities. One of the best pieces of advice I received going into my new position was, "understand why you have been hired, not what they want you to do but what problem are you there to solve from a strategic point of view".

  • Stay curious: There is an abundance of resources to read, listen and watch online and I will list as many free ones as I can. But a lot of it comes down to mindset and attitude. In a recent podcast Russell Grossman, Director of Communications at ORR summed it up quite well. The future directors and heads of communications will need to have a 360 view of everything. Just being interested in one aspect of the industry will keep you boxed in. Read reports to understand insights, business books to develop a strategic view, listen to podcasts that give you perspectives of what other sectors, businesses and practitioners are doing, dive into the data and understand the trends. I often find some great inspiration in reading award submissions, case studies by creative agencies and watching documentaries about the industry.

  • Ask for help and have questions: Social media has broken down a barrier that previously would have made it impossible to access certain C-Suite level individuals. At our fingertips, we now have some of the most influential people in the industry during a Twitter Chat or are able to send them a message via Linkedin without having to spend hours trying to figure out their company email which is probably bursting at the seams, so take advantage of this access. Having done all of the above you will know and understand much better what questions you are looking to get answers to. Never be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. While it may seem like there are people who know all there is to know about everything, we are all still learning with a child-like curiosity.

  • Build your tribe: Mentors are great, and I would suggest having them. But build a network of people around you who have your back, are able to be brutally honest with you, and bring something different. I have people who keep me grounded and check me, the ones who encourage me when I am in a dark place, the ones who push me outside of my comfort zone, the ones who open me up to new experiences and the ones who guide me on what is next. The community I have chosen to build around myself is based on respect, care, loyalty, honesty and a vested interest in each other. Having a Rolodex of names will only take you so far as opposed to authentic friendships.

    A few tips to getting the most out of mentoring sessions:

  • Come with a clear agenda. What do I need to think about / do/ learn in the next 3 – 9 months so that I see the change in the next year? What projects do I need to take on that will take me to the next level? What skills do I need to start developing, professional and personal?

  • Bring something to the table and show that you have made progress. There is probably nothing more frustrating than giving someone the same advice, steps and direction over and over again for them to ignore it but time and time again come back hoping you will have different advice.

  • Pave it forward and be of service.

Resources

Podcasts

Culture, Comms & Cocktails hosted by Chuck Gose

Engage for Success

Engage for Success Radio

Icology By Chuck Gose

Internal Comms Procast

The Talking Comms Podcast

The C-Suite Podcast

The Internal Comms Podcast

The Science of Social Media

Peppermint fish

Full list of podcasts I listen to visit.

My winter book list.

Websites

AllThingsIC

Comms2point0

Gatehouse

LG Comms

The IC Space

Alive with Ideas

Government Communications Service

Institute of Internal Communication

Learning Icology

Amanda Coleman

Deirdre Breakenridge

Ella Minty

Shane Snow

CIPR

AB Comms

IC Kollectif

Twitter Chats

#Powerandinfluence on Wednesday 8-9pm GMT hosted by Ella Minty

#CommsChat on Monday 8-9 pm GMT hosted by Communicate magazine

In the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat
— Theodore Roosevelt


I first heard Theodore Roosevelt's arena speech as it is referred to on Tim Ferris Podcast in his audacious interview with the scariest Navy seal imaginable, Jocko Willink. At the time and until now I always thought of it as something to read when someone who knows not of my struggles passes criticism without providing a tangible solution or adding value.  I was reminded of the quote this week when I read Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown. Although it had on my reading list for a while, I think I was avoiding it because it unearths my complex personal struggle with vulnerability, shame and disengagement. But if I'm going to be a better communicator and leader, then I have to be able to work on the things that lead me to hide away from having difficult conversations and confronting ugly truths and deal with vulnerabilities self-imposed or others. So thanks Advita for reminding me of it.

But thinking of the arena speech takes me back to all the conversations that can be summed up in our constant conflict as communicators, “Everyone thinks they can do comms.” Yes, everyone standing on the side-lines assumes that what we do is write a tweet or two, print a few posters and churn out the press releases. But I wonder whether they see the blood sweat and tears behind the scenes. So let's all give each other in the arena a pat on the back and embrace vulnerability. But let’s also make sure we aren’t a critic too judging ourselves harshly and holds on to toxic perfectionism.

 

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I went to FutureNet’s Trailblazer event to get some insights into the fantastic triple awarding winning employee engagement campaign, Trailblazers by Kerry Foods. Jacqueline Ryan, Internal Communications and Employee Engagement Advisor at Kerry Foods, and FutureNet committee member shared great insights and here are my five key takeaways.

  • Employee engagement which is leader led has to be precisely that. People need to see and hear leadership at every stage in an authentic way. 

  • Be flexible and allow the campaign to flow. Sometimes the best-laid plans change, and that is fine.

  • Let the stories shine through.

  • User-generated content is the future as budgets gets tighter and communicating with hard to reach audiences becomes harder.

  • Recognise people for their courage and desire to take part. These are the things that cost nothing but mean so much to people and should be at the heart of the business values.

 

I managed to catch up with Jess, The Voracious Nomad who put me on the spot slightly and interviewed me for her podcast. We talked about professional development, storytelling, black tax and the future.  Doing this interview was entirely out of my comfort zone, and I usually would have said no but over the last year I have been saying yes more thanks to Shonda Rhimes. Listen to it here

 

Resources mentioned in the episode:

Who will be my Ellen?

Year of Yes- Shonda Rhimes

Born a Crime, Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah

Slay In Your Lane - Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

Legacy – James Kerr

AllThingsIC

Comms2point0

The IC space

Alive with Ideas

Comms Unplugged  

#CommsChat

Power and Influence by Ella Minty

The Internal Comms Podcast with Katie Macaulay

Learning from failure

As I sip my Sunday coffee I ’m reflecting on something surreal that happened this week.



I am a finalist for an industry award for the first time. Scary.

A campaign I developed, ran and managed made the finalist list of the 2018 UK & European Employee Engagement Awards in the Internal Communications category.

As someone who never wins anything, I didn’t know how to feel. When I was completing the submission, it took me a while to believe that my work was worthy of being entered. But thankfully the deadline coincided with Public Service Communications Academy 2018, so I was surrounded by my incredible network who gave me the extra push I needed and our Head of Communications was there every step of the way to help me.

Whether we win the award or not in January, I have already won. I have turned a failure into a career-defining moment.


It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.

J. K. Rowling

 

In April I went through an interview process for an internal communications role at a housing association. Failing to get through to the next stage was hard, but I understood that I had to develop my understanding of communicating with internal audiences better and have real tangible examples of my work. Maybe it was fate but once I decided to learn, things started coming my way that allowed me to increase my knowledge of internal communications and employee engagement. I developed the ‘Be Epic’ campaign for our IT service delivery team which is the shortlisted project and support a number of our services internally with their messaging. I also met Rachel Miller Director of AllthingsIC, the industry guru who has since taught me some invaluable lessons.

I have plugged in more with our corporate change manager who regularly shares her insights from a change management perspective, and we now work on more assignments together. 

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

 Henry Ford


What have I learnt over the last six months from this failure?

  • The proof is in the pudding.

  • Find or create my own opportunities to develop the skills that I need because nobody is going to do it for me.

  • How to measure effectively and be dynamic.

  • To have the courage to get out of my comfort zone.

  • I may fail again, and that is okay. In fact it is what I need to grow.

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

Ken Robinson

  • I have to trust my gut.

  • How to design and execute an award-worthy internal communications campaign at zero cost that solves a business problem.

  • How to prioritise as a business stakeholder.   

  • Develop a stronger network of professionals working across various discipline of communications and industries.

 

Some of the great resources that have helped me develop my internal communications skills.

AllThingsIC

Comms2point0

Gatehouse

LG Comms

The IC space

Institute of Internal Communication   

 

I also have a couple of submissions in the Unawards and the shortlist is out on Thursday 14 November, so fingers crossed. But in the meantime, what are you waiting for the unawards18 public vote is open

You have a tough, tough challenge now to select the winners from three important categories:

Lifetime Achievement

Comms Team of the Year

Best Guest Post of 2018

You can cast your votes HERE

The public vote closes on 26 November (midnight)

See you in Birmingham for the Unawards on Friday 7 December

Unplugging

Purchasing my  Comms Unplugged tickets has been a journey.

 

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Even with a few weeks left to go, I am slightly unsure where exactly it is that I'm going. Somewhere in Dorset is what I say when I'm questioned. I think I have been a Diva delegate asking at every stage of the process. I love to network and have a very curious mind so going for a conference in and of itself is my idea of a wonderful weekend. I have no anxiety with the camping element of it either. Maybe my worries are more to do with the unpredictable British weather and getting lost because both are bound to be an issue for me. 

Now that the ticket is booked and I am getting excited by my out of office reply which may read " I am away at an industry conference and will respond to your email on my return when I'm refreshed and rejuvenated".

I am looking forward to the opportunity to network with my industry peers over a coffee. I haven't been in public sector communications for too long, coming from the European Union there are similarities but so many differences so am eager to share experiences and finally put names to faces and profile pictures to voices. (Talking comms podcast)

The thought of unplugging is becoming quite appealing as the days draw closer because I've always enjoyed my periods offline, but to do it with other people will be interesting. Maybe it is the nostalgia of it all.

The crucial component is the learning aspect of it all. I am open-minded to the new ideas, techniques and skills that I will come away with. 

Finally, I'm looking forward to getting those Hunters on and breathing in some fresh air, eating delicious food, star gazing, and trying yoga for the first time. 

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Podcasts For My Commute

Every morning while on my way to work I listen to a podcast or two with my morning coffee. It is something that I did before podcasts came back into style. I have gained tremendously from feeding my mind first thing or at the end of the day. Whether it's a keynote speech from a top conference or a very inspiring story of how a business was birthed. But it gives me a chance to keep up with what is happening within the PR, marketing, and digital media space. I have been exposed to different ways of thinking, new books and the incredible things people are doing all over the world. 

The Talking Comms Podcast

Super Soul Conversations

The Science of Social Media

NPR How I Built This

Very inspiring stories of overcoming adversity and hardwork. Try Dermalogica: Jane Wurwand, Carol’s Daughter: Lisa Price, Patagonia:Yvon Chouinard and Five Guys:Jerry Murrell
Highly recommend Tim Ferriss Show Jamie Foxx on Workout Routines, Success Habits, and Untold Hollywood Stories
Do you have the courage to act outwardly on what you see inwardly?
— T.D Jakes
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What do you listen to?

Share your favourite podcasts or eposide