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A Dozen Takeaways from LG Comms: “Communications from the Inside Out’

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A Dozen Takeaways from LG Comms: “Communications from the Inside Out’

What’s The IC Space?
What are the 3 best ways to kill a great idea?
What can we do to build strong communities of remote employees?
And how on earth do you achieve a 95% response rate for your annual employee survey?

These questions were all answered by the inspiring speakers at the brilliant LGcomms seminar: Communicating from the inside out, held at Hanley Community Fire Station in Stoke on 25th March.

And they just scratch the surface of what was a thoroughly enjoyable, informative and entertaining event.

I was delighted to be asked by Emma Rodgers (@EmmaRodgers) to join the line-up of speakers, sharing my thoughts on creativity in internal comms and facilitating a quick workshop where a room full of IC pros came up with a mass of top ideas.

I’ve summarised my own experience of the event with my top inspired insights – and wow, that’s a tough job after soaking up so much great stuff (so I’ve made it a bakers dozen).

So, in no particular order:

  1. What’s The IC Space all about? Russell Grossman (@Russellgrossman), Group Director of Communications from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills talked us through the online toolkit produced by internal communicators for internal communicators via The Government Communication Service. A brilliant resource not only for public sector communicators but more widely for any IC pro. ‘Plenty of tools, tips, techniques and tricks!’ (@ICSpace)
  2. ‘It costs more to do internal comms badly than to do it well.’ And it needn’t cost a fortune in the first place. The secret sauce is a blend of goodwill, good attitude and good communicators.
  3. How do you kill a great idea? Paul Taylor (@PaulBromford), Innovation Coach at Bromford Lab had attendees enthusiastically nodding in agreement with his take on the 3 three top ‘idea killers’ – Meetings murder great ideas, corporate hierarchies strangle the life from them and confining employees to restrictive job descriptions is a one way ticket to the innovation graveyard. How can we keep them alive? Identify who is responsible for bright ideas, ensure they’re solving the right problems, make their ideas visible, give them a safe space where it’s okay to be crazy and let them work with anyone – regardless of job description.
  4. Only 25% of what we work on will be a success. We’ve got to get better at failing and being honest about what doesn’t work. We can only change things by making sure we don’t make the same mistakes as before. Admit we don’t have all the answers and talk about what doesn’t work to help build trust.
  5. How do we tackle ‘laggard leadership’? Assemble a coalition of rebels – aka champions, early adopters and green dots. Connect the passionate people to each other, the ones who welcome change, generate energy and attract possibilities.
  6. People say they want to change, but really they don’t. Why are we surprised when people don’t welcome innovation? Why doesn’t everyone sit around and applaud the next big idea? Rogers Diffusion of Innovation Bell helps us recognise why we shouldn’t be surprised when people don’t welcome innovation. (Note – there will always be people who will never be convinced and that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that.)
  7. ‘Lurkers can be listeners too’, said Helen Reynolds (@HelReynolds), Director of Social for the People. Lurking by employees online is still valuable. It doesn’t mean they’re not engaging so don’t be disheartened.
  8. How can you connect remote workers? Anna Lowman (@annalowman), Employee Comms Manager at TFL gave some brilliant insights. ‘Find out what matters to them most and understand how they consume information – and the best way to do that is to get out and about with them and see what they experience. Recognise that employees have twice as much trust in their peers as they do in their CEO – harness that! Empower employees with information that they can spread to their peers and naturally tailor to their own audiences, use your network of champions to tell the stories.’
  9. How to incentivise employees to complete a staff survey. The award winning Kate Shaw (@Kes1981) from Nationwide Building Society wowed the room when she announced the impressive 95% response rate for their annual employee survey. Just how do they do that? A contribution to one of two charities as a small thank you does the trick.
  10. Don’t drown employees in strategies. How many is too many? Kate Jones (@how_IC_it) – IoIC Board Member and UK Head of Internal Communications at Atkins encouraged attendees to think ‘strategy in a box’ – keep it simple, provide employees with clarity of direction and define one clear business strategy.
  11. Remain true to your values. Look to your values to engage your employees – make them count – always.
  12. Present an authentic voice. When directors are blogging, ensure they’re doing it themselves, rather than via a PA. Fran Collingham (@frannycoll), Assistant Director at Coventry City Council says ‘let their authentic voices shine through like nothing else.’
  13. Where can you get even more inspiration? Talk to IC pros who have won awards to get loads of great ideas. Take a look at the recent winners of the IoIC Central Region awards and get inspired!

Did you attend the event or follow the #LGcommsIC hashtag on Twitter? What were your top takeaways? Tweet me @Alivewithideas to share your thoughts.

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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