Evolving Internal Communications

Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) on platforms like Office 365 Yammer, Slack, Jive, Salesforce Chatter, IBM Connections, and currently in beta-test — Facebook at Work, we’re facing emerging office “change behaviour” that should not be left to nature (IT) for employee adoption and understanding.


Most traditional IT programs are out of date in today’s business world. ESN requires enterprise-wide “nurturing” by Internal Communications, Knowledge Management, Organisational Development, Human Resources, and IT to create a sustainable network and groups that demonstrate business value.


You might find these top 5 reasons why social enterprises fail, helpful! And take a look at some of the hundreds of ESN success stories freely available across all sectors.


IABC-UK board member, Lesley Crook was recently interviewed by Gloria Lombardi. “It’s going to be a slow burn of evolution, rather than a revolution.” Where some organisations will be ready to take enterprise social to the next level not before a good few years. There are some challenges to face. They may be different for each company. The “command and control” management structure still exists inside some companies. Some businesses might be strong on external channels such as Twitter or Facebook, but their internal “digital transformation” is still in its infancy. “Many leaders value external social media and are appreciating the value of employee advocacy. However, they don’t use the same technique internally. They don’t take the time to be visible and hear the employee voice.”


And, if you think that it’s just a generational thing, think again. It’s about mind-set. As Lesley puts it: “People of all ages are comfortable with social networking. Passionate about it and totally get it. Other people are not. Tools are getting simpler and need no training. Management and employees need to consider to change their behaviour, and cut down “email trees” and look to collaborative platforms for better ways working. Just as they have done over the years changing their behaviour from: a secretary taking down dictation, to all of us using office email, then file shares, and then instant messaging.


And, with the surprise leading Microsoft announcement yesterday, that any organisation with an Office 365 license will gain access to Yammer and have it automatically activated. This looks like a game changer for office email behaviour and Yammer competition!


For more on the business value of changing office email behaviour take a look at Working Out Loud in A Network #wolan approach developed by Lesley. It demonstrates the relevance of turning digital collaboration (ESN) into your “internal DNA”, and the power of introducing intelligent hashtags. This approach has been endorsed by Microsoft, Digital Workplace Group (DWG) and GSK German Works Council.


Lesley will be part of an IABC-UK event in May on the future of work. In the meantime, you can find her on our IABC-UK LinkedIn group as community manager, and one of our regular Tweeters along with Gay Flashman.


IABC members can also contact Lesley Crook directly, ready to answer any questions that you might have in order to take this exciting culture change to the next step with your employees, staff, leaders, customers, clients and partners.

Free IABC Webinars to improve your communications

As part of our commitment to support our members with their professional development and knowledge, we run a range of free webinars. Coming up in the next few months we have the following sessions – do follow the links for more information.

February 17th  4:30-5:30 pm : Adding Value Through Comms

Communications are now more important than ever in determining the growth and overall success of an organisation, but many still struggle to correlate public relations to their business strategies.

In this free 60 minute webinar, Dr Anne Gregory looks at how communicators can add value through a strategic, well-planned and collaborative approach.

About the speaker:

anne gregory

Dr Anne Gregory is the Professor of Corporate Communications, Strategy, Marketing and Economics at the University of Huddersfield. With nearly forty years experience working in many different aspects of communications; in academia, as an accomplished freelance journalist and in completing research and consultancy programmes for corporations such as Tesco, The Department of Health and The UK Cabinet Office. Anne is also current Chair of the Global Alliance, a UN recognised NGO. In recognition of her achievements in the profession, she was awarded the Sir Stephen Tallents Medal in 2010 and made an Honarary Fellow of the CIPR in 2015.

Follow this link to register for the event: https://iabcemena.com/event/free-webinar-adding-value-through-comms/

March 30th 4:30pm-5:30pm: Crisis Communications in a Digital Age

We live in a world where a corporate crisis can be broadcast globally in a matter of minutes, would you have the mechanisms in place to minimise the impact upon your business through your social media and digital content channels?

In this highly interactive webinar, learn how you can take control of the narrative on social media, deal with challenging stakeholders and gage how the public is likely to respond to the crisis.

About the speaker:


Donald Steel is a leading expert in public relations and communications; specialising in the management of crises and reputations. Working for more than eleven years as the Head of Press and Public Relations at the BBC, Donald handled some of the most high-profile events of the era.  He has now started his own company; Donald Steel Public Relations London Ltd, and is a guest lecturer at the London School of Economics.

Register for the event here: https://iabcemena.com/event/crisis-communications-in-a-digital-age/



The rise of the citizens’ association: an Italian experience

Pedestrians cross a road at Tokyo's business district September 30, 2014. Japanese big manufacturers' confidence improved slightly in the three months to September, a closely watched central bank survey showed, but service-sector sentiment worsened, adding to evidence that a sales tax hike continues to weigh on the economy. Picture taken September 30, 2014. To match JAPAN-ECONOMY/TANKAN REUTERS/Yuya Shino (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT) - RTR48F1Y

In Italy, citizens’ associations and networks are becoming a competitor to professional and consultancy firms in communications and public affairs activities, writes Cristiana Natalucci, a senior communications project manager at Cittadinanzattiva, one of Italy’s pre-eminent citizens’ associations.

This phenomenon is most evident in the Italian healthcare sector because of the powerful combination of political interests, institutions, PR, strategic, events, awareness and campaigning activities. Now not only in Italy, but in Northern Europe, new players are breaking into the communication and public affairs arena. This might impact the market share of professional consultancies in the long term.

Italian citizen power

In my experience, some international pharmaceutical companies are looking to finance communications, institutional campaigns and activities carried out by general associations or groups. Pharmaceutical companies may opt for this strategy because of the greater attention paid to them by political decision makers. They work with associations that have become “an institutional voice of common battles” and consequently can represent the shared interests before the common decision-makers. This is a phenomenon I’ve seen grow in my more than 20 years’ experience at a senior level in agencies and more recently with Cittadinanzattiva.

To me this phenomenon is paradoxical. Civil associations, composed of very smart and politically committed citizens, are increasingly able to attract ‘PR money’, set the strategy and work with agencies for execution.

In Italy, the political influencers are looking towards citizen associations for information. Partly because in my country, there is still room to grow the reputation of the public affairs and strategic activities as a professional activity compared to Northern European countries. Hence, pharmaceutical companies choose to work with associations to achieve their institutional goals.

This shift has its roots in the Italian “exchange culture” and in the country’s recent history. During the last decades Italy saw an increasing and worrying lack of trust in institutions, because of a general cultural degeneration and disaffection with the general sense of community.  This has given rise to a lot of different and uncoordinated political and social “experiments” to create new tools and methods for participation by the people and obtain stronger political consensus.

Many Italian Citizens’ Associations have been organized for many years to give a stronger voice to the people. During this period they have earned a seat at the same table as traditional leaders and gain political weight.

Learning from the charitable sector

The third sector has learnt to use communication tools more efficiently. Civil associations are becoming better organized in their communications. In Italy, I see them now using communications strategies that they didn’t use previously, such as awareness campaigns or, on-going media relations, or a combination of social surveys and institutional events. Social media has also enabled and supported engagement within the Italian charity sector.

I have had the opportunity to meet fundraising and communication representatives of health charities across the UK. Many of these associations and charities are more professional and less political than in Italy and I found they have a strong capacity for developing communication strategies.

I would offer these learnings from the Italian charitable and ‘third sector’ – there are lessons around their skill in developing social engagement. In Itally, the charity sector knows how to be emotional, empathetic, and  connected to real life. Perhaps being a high level professional is in the digital era means to “have a heart and get your hands dirty”. My hope for the Italian communication sector is to get more proficient at social campaigns, social commitment, and build open relationships with many and different stakeholders. We should all be more curious about the world we live in .

I think communicators all over Italy, and even in the rest of Europe, know that to be a communicator is a privilege. Communication experts are special people. We create cultural and human bridges and make things happen; we must continue to be proud of our work and become the creators of the future.

MOOCs: The Top 5 for Communicators in 2016

With the rise of MOOCs showing no signs of slowing down, they are arguably one of the biggest revolutions in higher education; aiming to provide accessible and cheap global education for all across a broad range of disciplines.

As a communications professional, there are a number of courses available which can enable you to improve your approach to social media marketing, leadership, and communications as a whole. We have handpicked 5 of the best MOOCs for professional communicators and marketers to stay ahead of the game in 2016, alongside your work. All of these courses are free and from top global universities.

1. Leadership Communication for Maximum Impact: Storytelling, Northwestern University (via coursera)

Northwestern Univeristy continues to produce excellent MOOCs, and this does not disappoint. Led by four experienced teachers with professional experience, it is aimed at communication leaders. The course provides an overview of what makes both individuals and brands successful, with practical advice for building your leadership capacity through storytelling. That is, preparing responses for theoretical scenarios for new innovations and corporate crises.

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A further advantage to the course, and indeed all coursera courses, is the opportunity for discussion amongst others enrolled in the course, enabling further learning and perhaps even networking.

iabc mooc 22.  Content, Advertising and Social IMC, Northwestern University (via coursera)

This course is aimed specifically at improving social media marketing, providing a specialised approach with easily applicable skills to improve your businesses social media strategy. Whether you’re sending your first business tweet in 2016 or have had a brand presence on social media for years, this course will undoubtedly provide relevant tips to build or maintain your audience, as well as ultimately providing an insight into how social media marketing translates to profit.

iabc mooc 33. Communication in the 21st Century Workplace, University of California, Irvine (via coursera)

Uniquely, this course focuses on building the communication skills of the individual; it has no set time frame in which to complete, so you can take your time or power through at your own pace. The goals of the course are clear, albeit basic, to establish an understanding of exactly what good communication is and how to apply it in the workplace. You might be surprised, in an age when communication in person is at an all-time low, to find out how you can improve your interpersonal skills- which in the 21st century are perhaps pushed to one side.

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4. Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Université catholique de Louvain(UCL) (via edX)

Corporate social responsibility is undoubtedly important to any business, and this course gives offers a detailed approach as to what corporate social responsibility is, aims to achieve, and how to implement it. For communications professionals who are not experienced in corporate social responsibility, this course provides an invaluable grounding, led by Valérie Swaen, a Professor of corporate social responsibility at the Louvain school of management.

iabc mooc 55. Building your Leadership Skills, HEC Paris (via coursera)

Good relationships between colleagues and management are a solid foundation upon which for a business to grow. This course focuses upon interpersonal communication skills, which aims to build quality and trustworthy relationships. Although not specifically targeted at communications professionals, this MOOC provides an interesting perspective on how to develop your leadership skills which would be particularly successful as part of a ‘grass roots’ approach to developing your business communications.

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Driving Business with Communication

The 2016 regional IABC conference, EuroComm, will be held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands from 18-19 April and will focus on how communications can help drive business, in small and large organisations.


Communications as a function is coming of age in organisations across the world. In large organisations the Chief Communications Officer now reports directly to the CEO; commercially, companies are learning that their customers respond better to community-building and intelligent storytelling as opposed to classic push strategies; and we see communication teams allocating increased budgets and time to analytics and planning.

Communications increasingly has a “seat at the table”, something we have been asking for, as teams now have professional processes and structures in place, this wish is being granted more frequently. But we still need to prove we ‘get’ the business and can drive value for the organisation not only for large organisations; for SMEs, we need to show how communicators (whether in-house, agencies or consultants) fit and can make a real contribution to the bottom line.

The challenges of the future

The EuroComm 16 conference will address the challenges for our profession: What are the right types of priorities that drive value for organisations? How do we manage communities and participation? What metrics do you need to track the data and how do you gain the right insight that will inform decisions? What competencies will effective communicators need in the future (being a storyteller, a connected connector, digital savvy, understanding content as data) …?

Sessions will be mix of keynote speeches from the corporate world and academia, Ràpido (TED-like) sessions, panel discussions and short solution presentations, including speakers from energy companies, banks, engineering, heavy industry, consultants and agencies. At past EuroComm conferences speakers have included top people from the UN, EU, communications experts from Fortune-500 companies, academia, writers, bloggers and other key influencers.

EuroComm is for communicators either at the beginning or the mid-level of their careers, and with its unique networking opportunities and high level of speakers, the conference should be on any communicator’s agenda for 2016. And compared to other communications events, it comes a fair price.

EuroComm 2016 is organised by the EMENA region together with the local IABC chapter in the Netherlands and in collaboration with other IABC volunteers across the globe.

Why Rotterdam?

EuroComm has been previously been held in London, Brussels, Turin, Barcelona and other key European cities. The EMENA region has decided to take advantage of Rotterdam’s unique position and infrastructure. Being the largest port of Europe, the city has developed itself from being a traditional trade city to being a hub for futuristic design and exploring new ways of doing business. Rotterdam has museum with both classic Dutch art and avant-garde design, it has bridges that connect the different parts of the city, whether using metro, trams or just walking. Its newest horseshoe-shaped market hall has received acclaim from journalists and architecture critiques across the globe.

Please join us in the Public Library of Rotterdam, from 18-19 April 2016 for EuroComm 2016. Registration is open now.