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Inspiring ideas to boost your professional development 

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Inspiring ideas to boost your professional development 

We all know professional development is important, but when you barely have time to make a cup of tea most days, let alone drink it, how can you find the time (and budget) to invest in yourself? Never fear, Alive are here to give you some ideas.…

Continuing professional development (CPD) is about taking a holistic view of your career and what skills and knowledge you need to ensure you evolve with the profession.

It’s also one of the ways we can prove to stakeholders that internal communication is a function that takes itself seriously, one that prides itself on high standards and ethical codes of conduct. It means that you personally hold yourself to a higher standard set by industry bodies, because you’re passionate about your career and adding measurable value to the organisations you work for.

That all sounds great, doesn’t it? But in practice, where on earth will you find the time and budget, on top of the day job and a busy personal life?

The good news is that not all CPD costs money, and it doesn’t have to involve signing your life away for a year of study. We’ve collated some of the best CPD opportunities available at the moment, to provide some inspiration…

Join an industry body and track your CPD

If you’re serious about demonstrating your passion and commitment to internal communication, join an industry body. There’s the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC)Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) or Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).

As members of these bodies, you get access to resources, discounts on events and the opportunity to track your CPD. Not only does tracking your progress help you demonstrate your knowledge and skills to others but it’s a great reminder for you on how far you’ve come.

The rest of the suggestions in this blog all count towards CPD, so membership is a great place to start. It means you can track your development and become accredited or chartered if you meet CPD requirements.

Time commitment: ongoing 
Budget: ££


Sometimes the skills you need to develop are best learnt by doing, so why not volunteer? If for example you want to be better at public speaking, find out when upcoming conferences are and approach the organisers with an idea. If you want to get better at budgeting, get involved in industry events or committees that often create fantastic output from tight budgets.

Many industry bodies are heavily supported by volunteers. The internal comms arm of CIPR, for example has a committee, completely run by volunteer internal communicators who believe they get as much out of being a committee member as they put in. So, it’s another great option for people keen to get more involved in the industry.

Time commitment: Activity dependent, but often an hour a week
Budget: 0

Professional qualifications

Qualifications ensure we have the knowledge and skills to do our job, but they also give us confidence in our own abilities, and by extension, instil faith in our stakeholders. We often know what’s right but having the theory and evidence to back that up can be invaluable. Most of the industry bodies will offer a choice of professional qualifications, depending on what stage you’re at in your career.

Time commitment: six months to a year.
Budget: £££


If you’re looking to brush up on a particular skill or just need to refresh your knowledge, short workshops might be the answer. From a one-day masterclass with All Things IC to the many short courses and workshops run by the IoIC or a breakfast seminar hosted by the many talented agencies we have in our industry. They’re a great ways to dip into a topic of particular interest and meet likeminded professionals – remember you can often learn as much from your peers as you can from the person leading the course.

Time commitment: From one hour to a day. 
Budget: ££


Blogs, books, reports, white papers – there are so many resources available to us. Whether you’re looking to brush up on your general IC theory, or looking for something more specific, chances are someone will have written about it.

Why not join CIPR Inside’s IC book club? You’ll discover books you might not have been aware of and get to discuss them with some of the brightest minds in the industry on Twitter.

And take a look at our Elements of IC – it’s full of resources that cover pretty much any aspect of internal communication you can think of. And if you do think something’s missing, let us know!

Time commitment: Depends how quickly you read!
Budget: £ (the cost of a book but most blogs and reports will be free)


Meeting industry peers and sharing experiences and learnings is an invaluable way to boost your knowledge and to inspire new ideas and solutions to challenges. It’s also a great way to remember that you’re not alone, and chances are someone else has faced the challenges you have before and may have some great advice to share. Plus, you’ll also have a wealth of experience that will benefit others.

There are lots of brilliant networking events out there, and if there isn’t one near you, why not start one? All you need is a pub, and to spend a bit of time marketing it.

Time commitment: A couple of hours
Budget: £ 

Attend a conference

Conferences do mean budget and time out of the office, but if you want to be at the top of your game, they’re a great way to hear from industry experts, discover upcoming trends and network with peers. Having a day away from the office can also be great to clear your head, be inspired and gain some new perspective.

And don’t forget, there are lots of breakfast seminars and evening events you can attend if you really can’t take a full day out of the office.

Time commitment: One to two days
Budget: ££ 

Watch a webinar or listen to a podcast

There are lots of webinars and podcasts in our industry that you can watch, listen and learn from on a lunch break. Short, bite-sized sessions that ensure you’re up to date with some of the most high-profile topics of the day. Chuck Gose’s ICology, or Poppulo’s regular webinars are good places to start.

Time commitment: An hour
Budget: 0

Get on social media

Gone are the days when networking had to be face to face. Twitter and LinkedIn especially are great ways to share content, ask questions, spot events, take part in discussions, read latest insights.

If you’re new to social media, try #commschat on Twitter every Monday evening at 8pm where a different topic is discussed every week – it’s a great way to join a discussion with knowledgeable and lovely people.

Time commitment: Completely up to you
Budget: 0


Whether you are the mentor or are being mentored, it’s a brilliant way of developing yourself. Realising you have wisdom to impart provides confidence and acknowledging there’s always more to learn can be empowering. Check out the IoIC’s mentoring programme that matches prospective mentors and mentees.

Time commitment: Ad hoc
Budget: 0

So, there you have it, CPD opportunities are everywhere, and they don’t have to involve selling a kidney or building a time turner. So, what are you waiting for?

By Helen Deverell for Alive With Ideas

“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

“So glad that we chose Alive to create our new website. As well as taking the time to get the visual side of our requirement right, they worked with us to understand us, our business and our clients and reflect this across the site. We loved their flexible approach, which, coupled with the right level of challenge has replaced our old, clunky site with one we can be proud of. ”

Victoria Ford — Perago

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“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

“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

“Love it. I will pass to the boss, but I think it's awesome.”

Matt Fletcher — Met Police

“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

“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

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

“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

“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

“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

“I have worked with Alive with Ideas for many years now and they are by far the best Ideas and design company I have ever worked with (I’d even go as far as to say the best company of any sort that I’ve ever worked with). They are an incredibly talented and creative team, who are normal human beings, completely grounded, totally down to earth, approachable, friendly and an overall joy to work with.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“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 —

“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

“We worked with Alive on our new website and branding project. They wowed us during the pitch 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 that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

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

“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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