I had a great day at last week's Internal Communications Conference in Manchester: a room full of people like us, passionate about all those great things like communications strategy and messaging and channels, but looking for a few hooks to help them do an even better job.

A recurring theme of the conference, for me, was the reminder that internal communications lives and breathes on involving other people.

Starting with convincing those at the top, a tip from Will Foy from Imperial Tobacco was to sell an internal communications plan to senior management, particularly bottom-up and social-sharing communications, as collaboration and people development, and not focus on the channels and pitfalls.

Line managers are key to opening up the airwaves and there were lots of tips on how to get them focused on team communications. Tony Cooke of adidas Group North Europe spoke of how their managers now have a 'people' objective, which covers how they communicate with and develop their teams. David Manning of AB Agri talked about empowering line managers by briefing them a day before everyone else so they have a sense of privilege and then giving them the responsibility of briefing their teams themselves.

Engaging front-line employees was another topic that was much discussed. Alicia Custis of Stockport NHS Trust stressed how important it is for staff to understand how they contribute to the vision and success of their organisation. The speakers also gave their resounding backing for 'letting' employees use social media, and helping them out by providing them with content to encourage them. 

A great take-away comment for me was from Gordon Dowall-Potter of Kier Group, who always tries to ask himself: "What happens after I click send?". In other words, don't just think that because an email has gone out or a story has been uploaded to the intranet that your job has been done. You need to make sure your message is right, and on the right channels, and repeat, repeat, repeat.

I like to think that we take these points into consideration on the work we do for our clients at theblueballroom, but it was a great chance to hear how other people tackle the same issues.

Image credit: Sura Nualpradid

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