The IC Citizen explained

I’ve started a revolution, or more accurately a small movement. Since I published my blog about the concept of an IC Citizen, I’ve been astonished at the positive reception for the idea. It seems that the blog and concept have resounded with many other internal communicators. Before I move on to Phase 2 of developing the concept further, here’s some more information about it and how it could help the internal communications profession face up to a challenging future.

Last week I started a revolution, or more accurately a small movement.

It started with a blog I wrote entitled ‘The IC Citizen’. It’s an idea I’ve had in my head for a while about what it really means to be an internal communicator who is committed to our profession.

Since I published the blog, I’ve had quite a few online and offline conversations about it and the Twitter account I set up has had a good reception with a small but growing following. It seems that the blog and concept have resounded with many other internal communicators.

At this point I feel I need to clarify a few things before I move on to Phase 2 of developing the concept further.  So, here’s a bit more background information about The IC Citizen and a plea to help keep the enthusiasm for it alive whilst I work out what should happen next.

Why did I create ‘The IC Citizen’?

I created the IC Citizen because I’m worried that the internal communications profession is not ready for a future which is nearly upon us. I’ve written about this before in blogs such as ‘The growing pains of internal communication’.

As I see it there are three emerging threats to our profession and we are not currently ready or able to deal with any of them. 

Firstly, there are huge changes happening in the world of work with increasing digitisation of the workplace, remote working, the march of artificial intelligence and the convergence of internal and external communication to name just a few. Layer on top of this external influences and societal changes, such as the collapse of trust and the rise of populism, and the challenge for the internal communications profession to connect employees to their organisations becomes huge. 

Secondly, there is a rising commercialism developing within the internal communications industry which has the potential to change the nature of our profession forever. It is inevitable that as our industry matures more people will see the potential to make a buck out of it by complicating things which are inherently simple and then trying to flog us a solution. This may detrimentally affect something which really defines the internal communications community, our current willingness to share our skills and knowledge with each other so unconditionally.

Thirdly, there are many internal communicators who are simply not connected to the profession. In the course of my work, I regularly encounter people who are neither a member of a relevant professional body or who don’t engage in any kind of continuous professional development (CPD). They also see no reason to do so. This is our ‘Achilles Heel’. It is our own existential crisis that we must urgently address if we are to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.

While these threats develop and grow some internal communicators are stuck in the past, blithely discussing the same old perennial topics such as seat at the boardroom table, trusted advisor, measurement and the circular arguments for and against various Enterprise Social Networks with no clear objective in mind. Or worse, some are not engaging in any kind of debate at all.

I don’t want to see a profession I am committed to and passionate about be overwhelmed or assimilated by any of these threats, because we were simply distracted, looking the other way or complacent.

How ‘The IC Citizen’ could help

The concept of being a good IC Citizen is about us all being supportive towards, and giving something back to our profession as a whole. IC Citizenship has the potential and power to bind us together as a powerful collective with increased capability to drive the evolution of the internal communications profession forward positively. I believe it has the potential to help us meet head on the three threats I’ve outlined above and neutralise them.

There are a few things which define IC Citizenship. My first blog explains these in more detail, but to recap these features include:

  • Networking more to make connections and support others.
  • Participating in debate to share and test new ideas.
  • Offering constructive challenge to stakeholders when they make tactical requests with no clear business objective.
  • Entering and winning awards (for the right reasons) to add to our collective body of knowledge and actively raise capability.
  • Mentoring others.
  • Engaging in regular and meaningful continuous professional development.
  • Being a member of a relevant professional body.

I realise that it is unreasonable to expect everyone who works in internal communications to do all of these things all of the time. However, each of us just doing two or three would go some way to creating a more cohesive and capable internal communications profession which is prepared for the future much more than it is now.

What next for ‘The IC Citizen’?

I’ve been thinking hard to work out how to take The IC Citizen concept forward and what ‘Phase 2’ might look like. Thank you to everyone who has been in touch to offer ideas and opportunities to develop and promote the IC Citizen concept, or to just say that they think it’s great.

As I write this blog it’s been six days since I started promoting the original IC Citizen blog, the Twitter account has 192 followers and I’ve had many messages of support. I’ve been astonished by this and thank you to everyone who has either messaged me or followed, tweeted, retweeted and liked all the posts.  In comparison to some other IC related Twitter account followings 192 is not a huge number, but I think there is enough interest to make it worthwhile investing some more time in developing the concept further for the benefit of the internal communications community. Please let me know if you agree.    

This may all just fizzle out as quickly as it developed. A fledging concept crushed by the vagaries of the Twitter algorithm. I think that would be a shame, so your help in keeping it alive, by posting, sharing and following while I decide what’s next would be greatly appreciated.

I’ve been asked if it’s my intention to turn The IC Citizen into some kind of formal awards competition. I won’t be doing this. There are plenty of other internal communication awards competitions available and the concept encompasses more than just recognition. However, I have declared a number of internal communicators to be role models for one or more of the features of IC Citizenship. So far I have recognised:

Matt Batten @ICMattBatten – for being demonstrably committed to continuous professional development.

Josephine Graham @iojosy – for being a great networker and being actively involved with her professional body.

Shelby Loasby @ShelbyLoasby – A thoughtful blogger who is sharing resources and ideas with other internal communicators via her website.

Dan Holden @holddani – Who has recently launched a new website to share ideas and raise capability for more inexperienced internal communicators who are new to the profession.

Engage Comms @EngageComms – For setting up the Internal Communications Network North, and creating the opportunity for internal communicators in the North of England to connect and share expertise.

Katie Macauley @Katie_Macauley – A high profile and inspiring member of the internal communications community who is a great networker, author and the creator of the outstanding The IC Podcast.

Kate Jones FIIC @how_IC_it – A committed Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communication who is driving our profession forward and always willing to share her knowledge and expertise with others.

Sarah Browning @BrowningYork – Another regular blogger who is contributing to the debate and making a difference to take the internal communications profession forward.

Thanks to all of them. They are truly the embodiment of what it means to be #theICcitizen.

However, this is not just about me sitting in judgment on other internal communicators and deciding if they are good enough to be declared ‘The IC Citizen’. I am no judge or jury and I invite anyone in our profession to give a shout out to those who they think deserve to be recognised as being #theICcitizen. For now, just post a tweet and use the hashtag.

Finally, a shout out to my friend and IC buddy Sam Butterworth @SamGButterworth who has made such great progress on his journey to get professional over the last couple of years. It was Sam who saw the potential in the IC Citizen concept when it first appeared in my recent internal communication awards blog and encouraged me to take it further. Sam, you are also #theICcitizen and an inspiration to me, thank you.

Phase 2 of The IC Citizen is in planning. Watch this space and in the meantime follow @theICcitizen to join the movement.

Be part of our profession, not just in it.

Martin

#theICcitizen

My earlier blog about The IC Citizen includes more details about the features and characteristics which define IC Citizenship.

You can read more of my thoughts on the future challenges for the internal communications profession and how we should be trying to address these in my blog The growing pains of internal communication.

The IC Citizen first appeared in my blog The great internal communication awards overload.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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