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Tragedy to triumph: a tale of perseverance, resilience and growth

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Tragedy to triumph: a tale of perseverance, resilience and growth

The story of one wonky and slightly derailed journey towards a hard-earned diploma in internal communication.

Many moons ago I decided I wanted to learn more about internal comms in a proper, professional and planned out way. I never dreamed it would take me so much longer than anticipated.
I wasn’t confident about formal learning. My college days were long gone, I had a busy job as a junior comms consultant at Alive, and I’d recently become a mum again for the second time. I was shattered and sleep deprived, but I was also driven to keep the non-mum part of me motivated.

Learning about the basics

Mint green backround fuzzy edged circle shape and a blue outlined star graphic, with the wording 'this course had reignited my thirst for learning and I needed more!'

Feeling compelled to formalise the knowledge I had and learn more, I chatted to friends and colleagues about what I wanted to do and in September 2017 I signed up for the Certificate in Internal Communications with PR Academy.

After several trips to the study centre in London over the following year and a lot of hard work during late nights that merged into very early mornings, I was super pleased to pass this qualification with a merit. I came away equipped with the confidence, knowledge and theory to back up the decisions I was making around client projects and campaigns. And I loved it!

This course had reignited my thirst for learning and I needed more! I also wanted to start making amends with myself for choosing a hotel job that I didn’t love and a Ford Fiesta over university back in the day. And that meant reaching further and higher…

I knew of friends in the comms community who were taking more advanced qualifications and I wanted to be like them. What had previously felt entirely unattainable for me was beginning to feel possible.

Learning about bereavement Mint green backround fuzzy edged circle shape and a blue outlined star graphic, with the wording '... I had reinforced my existing skills and developed new ones that would help me to work on a deeper level...'

Again, I started the conversation with my colleagues and began taking tentative steps to sign up. However, before I had the chance, I experienced what was set to be the worst period of my life. One normal morning, at the start of a very ordinary week, my husband Steve left for work and never came home. He was found several days later having taken his own life. I was stunned. And that week which had started off so unbelievably mundane signalled a new, unrecognisable and daunting life for me as a grieving widow and single parent to two bereaved young children.

I had lost my husband, my soul mate, my stability. Studying was off the cards and I was set to learn an awful lot about suicide, loss and grief.

Learning about belief

Mint green backround fuzzy edged circle shape and a blue outlined star graphic, with the wording 'I took a leap and dived head first into my new professional adventure.'

Fast forward a few years which involved learning to adapt to a new life in a very different way, and slowly, gradually, hesitantly I began to recover my self-belief.

I was ready to keep that promise I had made to myself. I took the leap, and I dived head first into my new professional adventure.

With the understanding of my employers, the patience of my children, the support of friends and family and the guidance of some very special tutors and fellow learners at PR Academy, finally, about five years later than planned, I nailed it!

In January of this year I achieved an excellent pass in the Internal Communications Specialist Diploma, awarded by the CIPR. I felt stronger, smarter and I was bursting with a huge sense of achievement.

Essentially this meant I had reinforced my existing skills and developed new ones that would help me to work on a deeper level, where I could critically evaluate and implement internal comms planning techniques like a pro. It’s also added to the collective knowledge of our team at Alive and enhanced the service we offer to our clients.

Not only had I progressed professionally, I’d also developed myself on a personal level. I’d reminded my children about the value of determination, resilience and hope.

Learning about bouncing back 

I’m pretty sure no learning pathway ever really goes as planned. There will always be those little bumpy bits and sometimes the significant side roads that steer you off course for years – literally. But in my experience the feeling of chucking your stuff back in your wagon (or Ford Fiesta) and dragging it back onto the road to finally reach your destination is unbeatable.

By Caroline Roodhouse for Alive!

“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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