The changing role of the internal communicator

The last seven days have been hectic. An unconference, a forum meeting, a networking dinner, an interview in The Times, an amazing gig and….oh yeah, sign off on the huge Enterprise Social Network project me and the team have been working on for the whole of our lives. So in the calm before the implementation storm, some thoughts on the week’s major theme; the changing role of the internal communicator.

Communications? PR? Marketing? – we need to be able to wear all three hats, or at least be able to walk in all three pairs of shoes.

Comfortable behind our desks – we can’t continue to expect people to come to us. We need to be out there making change happen, visible and essential. In our rush for a seat at the table, we have to leave our own seat behind once in a while.

Embrace your marketing colleagues – there was a recurring theme at ‘The big Yak’ of marketing being the competition. “They have the biggest budget”, “They have more sway”. Marketing people are people too – talk to them, learn from them, work with them not against them. There’s an immediacy to marketing because they understand the link between what they do and the bottom line. Maybe that’s not as tangible to some of us in Comms.

Making comms ‘sexy’ again – Marketing is ‘sexy’ because they make it so. Networking, dinners, awards, events, clients. We have those things too people!

Socialising the workplace – the emergent role of the social business manager. Doing this right means the marrying together of all the above and understanding that ‘social’ and ‘digital’ are just words. Communicate the business benefit of an ESN (Enterprise Social Network) or a simple Twitter feed, show people what’s in it for them, and don’t expect it to be easy!

Community – two elements to this. 1) Community Management – understand what this means to your business and to you. The tools we now have at our disposal are changing this from a little bit of what we all do, to the be all and end all. 2) You’re not alone. There’s a growing, engaged community of practitioners out there to learn from and who want to learn from you. Follow @theICcrowd for a start and switch on to a whole bunch of people walking in your shoes.

Finally, and this may be just me, but having been the quiet ones (all things are relative…) in the corner, suddenly the ‘digital’ part of Grant Thornton’s Comms team is going to be awfully noisy from now on. ESN signed off and social business hats pulled tightly on, call it what you want but the ‘digi’ boys and girls are coming!!!

What changes do you see coming over the horizon for communicators?

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The big Yak – unbelievable unconference

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Yesterday I attended The big Yak, an unconference hosted by @theICcrowd at eBay’s offices in Richmond.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the day and given it was a Saturday, a sacred day to all parents of young children, I was open minded but still slightly guarded.

I guess I’m pretty jaded by corporate events whose agendas are always led by their sponsors – sessions designed to sell under the thin veil of authenticity. But jaded is not how I left The big Yak.

Right from the start this was different. The friendly Yak at the station giving directions set the tone for the day. Nobody was taking themselves too seriously and the conversation was open, friendly and (shock horror) ACTUALLY useful!

The ‘un’ bit of the conference meant we set our own agenda, talking about the things we wanted to talk about and voting with our feet to decide on sessions we attended. Throw in a genuinely friendly networking lunch and plenty of decent coffee and the day was a great success.

And the sponsors were just that, supporting but never the main event.

Theme of the day seemed to be one of confidence, with many of the sessions touching on not just the blurring line between comms and marketing, but IC people having the confidence to stand up and be counted.

But that’s another blog post.

The success was, in no small part, down to @theICcrowd, Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC), Jenni Wheller (@jenniwheller) and Dana Leeson (@danaleeson) who organised the whole thing.

Following the ladies on Twitter is the reason many of us were there. (The power of Twitter never ceases to amaze me). We were there because of the community they are creating, and the value of that community to us as comms professionals. There’s a lot of noise out there, so when you find something of value in amongst all the mail shots and phone calls, it’s worth investing time into. Even on a Saturday.

So well done to @theICcrowd and all who participated and hopefully we get to do it all again next year.

State of Love and Trust

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I was having a conversation with a colleague about governance, rules and regulations and ‘thou shalt nots’ for our anticipated new social business platform yesterday.

We were discussing my previous employer’s Acceptable Usage Policy and what we may need to have in place for this new platform.

We decided on trust.

We trust our colleagues to behave appropriately, self regulate and in turn, they develop deeper trust and respect for the organisation and this leads to the platform being able to grow into what it needs to be, for all of us.

Plus, we only read policy if we think we’ve broken it…don’t we?

So that’s our starting point. I’ll update as we go along and roll with the challenges.

And…points for those who read this for the song reference alone.