IABC Leeds event – summary and conclusions

Getting to grips with internal communications

The importance of listening and tackling cultural barriers were just some of the topics covered at November’s IABC event on internal communications.

As well as discussing the latest industry trends, attendees heard from a panel of experts who outlined the challenges faced by their companies and the strategies they’re adopting to tackle them. The event, at Squire Patton Boggs’ office in Leeds, was held in association with Calls9 and Halston Marketing.


The value of listening

Howard Krais, this year’s IABC UK President, who is also the communications leader for Clean Air division at Johnson Matthey, focused on the importance of listening for internal communications.

While everyone has the ability to be a good listener, he said, grasping and understanding another person’s point of view can be trickier and is a key part of the communicators’ armoury. Better listening leads to valuable insights, which can be shared and ultimately lead to broader influence.

Ken Armistead, Director of Corporate Communications for PPG in Europe, Middle East & Africa used his presentation to underscore the importance of aligning communications to overall business strategies and global company guidelines.

He encouraged delegates to “put people first, have a smart presence and make positive impact.”

Language can be a barrier in communications, Ken said, but simple strategies can be used to make things more accessible. For example, sharing successful career stories and utilizing social media channels, to engage with employees.


The future of employee engagement

Ken also emphasised how PPG has used community engagement to boost employee engagement, enhancing people’s well being as well as the company’s outlook. PPG has harnessed these strategies to bolster employee satisfaction and generate strong content by motivating people to contribute to stories, messages and internal news.

Understanding changes in communications and employee engagement is Jess Archer’s area of expertise. As internal communications manager at Network Rail, she designs and delivers campaigns to engage employees with the organisation’s strategy and vision and has a reputation for showing how businesses can be strengthened with through internal dialogue.

She used her presentation to underscore the importance of remaining creative for employees who are “digitally disconnected” and making sure non-digital communications are given as much thought as those for digitally-engaged employees.

For example, she said older people can struggle with communications strategies that are too digitally focused. Jess said she sees her main challenge as finding solutions that make employees feel satisfied with their work and therefore more likely to produce robust work.


By Mathilde Schneider

World Conference call for speakers deadline is 12 October – Apply to speak, recommend keynotes and spread the word to your network


The call for speakers for the 2019 IABC World Conference closes 12 October, so now is the time to submit a proposal or encourage those in your network to apply.

The theme of this year’s conference, happening 9–12 June in Vancouver, British Columbia, is “Think Forward.” Are you an expert in an area on the cusp of blowing up, or do you know someone who is? Do you have experiences or perspectives that will help the communication leaders of today and tomorrow? Then we want you to apply to be a presenter. You can also recommend a keynote speaker or pass the information along to others who might make great speakers.

Spread the word and get applications in by 12 October.

The IABC EMENA Leadership Institute – Unorthodox Approaches to Communication


Sitting quietly in the Baltic region of north-east Europe is Lithuania, stamped by its astounding capital city, Vilnius. Widely known for its beautiful, historical architecture and status as a thriving, up-and-coming tourist destination, Vilnius was the perfect site for great minds to gather for the IABC EMENA Leadership Institute 2018.

As attendees flew from cities in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, the event’s hosts excitedly welcomed communications professionals for a two-day affair of talks, workshops and collaborative learning. Here’s my key take-aways.

The Principals of Persuasion

Inspired by the work of Robert Cialdini, Alex Malouf asked how we can redefine the concept of influence. According to the theory, understanding key shortcuts – reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking and consensus – can increase success.

Alex Malouf discussing unorthodox approaches to communication.

Chatting with Chat Bots

Jasna Suhadolc of Virtua PR brought attention to the successes of web chat bots. In customer service there is a noticeable spectrum of sophistication when it comes to chat bots, but they are here to stay and have the potential to shorten the duration of the sales cycle and can qualify leads.

The Demons of Deprofessionalisation

As marketing and internal communication industries begin to integrate and tap into one another’s successes, Mike Klein reminded the audience how important it is to retain a specialism. During the panel discussion, Mike’s stance was that blurred lines between one discipline and another are becoming a commonplace which may become the detriment of specialism in communications.

The Certainties of Certification

IABC director Michael Nord highlighted the necessity of recognition in the field of communication. In particular, how we need certification to ensure constant learning opportunities and the maintenance of industry standards.

The G-Spot of Europe

As part of a campaign to increase the visibility of Vilnius and reposition the destination as a millennial hotspot, Inga Romanovskienė used sex to sell, so to speak. “Once you find it, it’s amazing,” the campaign declares. Within just a few weeks in the public eye, Inga’s alternative approach to tourism marketing was one of the Leadership Institute’s most popular attractions.

Inga Romanovskienė, creator of the G-Spot of Europe campaign.

The Lure of Lore

Andrius Grigorjevas delivered an enlightening presentation on how to hook your audience using their natural intrigue. Like gamers collecting breadcrumbs to piece a story together, internal communication specialists must collaborate with their audience to effectively engage with them. In addition, the UX of gaming – such as menu design and interface – can be used as inspiration for the structure of ecommerce sites.

On Reflection

The IABC EMENA Leadership Institute was a complete eye-opener. It was expertly executed by the wonderful Vija Valentukonyte, IABC EMENA Board Member and allowed for an open forum for discussion on various issues we’re all facing.

It’s through listening to the unique perspectives of our peers that we can develop our practices further and refine our relationships with our audiences.

The value of a multichannel strategy to communicate effectively with employees



A diverse workforce can be a challenge to reach. Depending on just one channel to communicate to employees will not work. Adopting a multichannel approach will better enable you to engage with all of your employees. To accomplish this, internal communicators need to join the dots between strategy, behaviours and technology, to improve the flow and quality of communication and collaboration.


First review your general communication strategy:


  • Do you have goals and objectives for your communications? Everything should be aligned with

your company’s business objectives. This includes general goals per campaign, and goals

relating to your internal communications.


  • Select the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure your success in achieving your goals. Good KPIs to review include content popularity, survey responses, take up of safety initiatives, response to change management, video views, event registrations, or an increase in intranet or social network traffic – to name a few. Match the metrics you use to measure your success to the KPIs you have selected.


Conduct a channel audit


While you are reviewing channels available to you, also take the time to identify where you need to update your channel technology (such as email and intranet) to technology that saves you time, and delivers the real-time metrics and analytics you need. Having this type of insight will help you assess the channel popularity and audience preferences.


Channel strengths – Take a look at the existing communication channels available to you. Understanding their strengths will help you improve how you use each channel to help you reach a diverse workforce.


The role of insight and measurement in your success


Measurement lets you understand the impact of what you’re doing. Review your access to measurement in each of your channels, and use those selected metrics to help you gain insight into your campaigns. In the selection of metrics you use, try to be consistent in your choice across each of your communication channels. By doing this you are not looking at channels in isolation – you are getting consistent insight into engagement across all channels, allowing you to make decisions based on these insights.


For example measure adoption and engagement, collaboration and rich media consumption (video, podcasts), and device consumption (desktop or smartphone). Collate your most influential users and top contributors, plus content, posts, pages and comment trends and popularity.


The future is multichannel measurement


Having access to individual channel metrics is the first part of your journey. To understand your channel effectiveness you need the ability to measure globally by campaign across all your channels.


Taking a multichannel approach – using all your channels to communicate, and measuring across your channels – will empower you to improve your communications going forward and show real business impact to stakeholders.


Newsweaver has compiled a PDF that includes insight from a number of communication experts, providing insight into key issues facing communicators right now. Internal Communication today – Insight from the inside