Changing The Conversation – What was the point?

What was the point of the CIPR Inside ‘Changing The Conversation’ internal communications conference in Birmingham on 8 October 2019? As a CIPR Inside Committee member, I think this was about internal communicators finally taking control of their destiny.

I’m a volunteer committee member for CIPR Inside. We are the Chartered Institute of Public Relations sector group for people who work in internal communication and employee engagement roles.

On 8 October 2019, CIPR Inside hosted our annual internal communications conference at Birmingham Town Hall which was attended by over 150 delegates, speakers and sponsors involved in internal communications.

Way back in January 2019 I suggested to the committee that our theme for this year’s conference should be about trying to shift the conversation away from some of the things we’ve been discussing as internal communicators for years. There are many challenges facing us as a profession, and we do not always acknowledge these or discuss them properly, preferring to dwell on perennial issues such as ‘seat at the table’, trusted advisor, channels and tactics. With a bit of collective shaping and honing by the committee the idea became a runner, and our conference theme of ‘Changing The Conversation’ was born.

I’m not going to review what was shared at yesterday’s conference. I know that the day will inspire many blogs, reviews and commentary from the attendees and others. I will leave it to them to share what they heard and learned. I hope that we equipped them to start to change the conversation about internal communications in their day to day work and I look forward to seeing what they thought about the topics which were covered. I’ll add links at the end of this blog as I see this emerging and you can also see some of the reaction on the Twitter hashtag #ChangingThe Convo.

What I want to highlight again here is the point of trying to change the conversation about internal communications as a discipline, craft, profession or whatever else you want to call it. It’s about doing whatever we can as individuals to become better equipped to face a challenging future in a rapidly changing world of work. We need to do this so that we can properly support employees, leaders and the businesses and organisations they work in, with effective internal communication that aligns to objectives and drives real outcomes. To do that we need to be discussing the right issues and constantly striving to learn, develop and keep up to date in an ever-changing landscape of work to become better at what we do.

The pathways that lead towards better for internal communicators can sometimes be obscure. There are many professional frameworks, bodies, training and learning providers all offering something to help us become better at what we do.

I know from my own experience how confusing this can be and earlier this year I attempted to help other internal communicators more easily navigate towards the path to becoming better by conceptualising ‘The IC Citizen’ movement. I asked other internal communicators to help me define how to become The IC Citizen and we came up with ten principles which are now a part of The IC Citizen Manifesto.

As my thinking on this has matured over the last few months, I now regard The IC Citizen movement and manifesto as a ‘funnel’ which helps direct other internal communicators towards the pathway to becoming better. Ultimately, it’s about investing in yourself and other internal communicators so that we all become better as a collective.

“The future is in our hands”, I heard it over and over again at the conference yesterday from both speakers and delegates. I’m glad that more internal communicators are starting to get it, because it’s about time. However, there were only 150 people in the room yesterday and that isn’t a critical mass to drive a revolution. That’s why I’m looking forward to the CIPR Presidency of Jenni Field in 2020. It was Jenni’s drive, ambition and enthusiasm for internal communication and PR, and her irreverent humour, which attracted me to becoming a CIPR Inside volunteer in the first place.

Jenni’s closing session at the conference was perhaps the one which resounded with me the most. As she pointed out in her own inimitable style, “we need to be brave, be accountable, be professional and decide where we want to be”. I agree. It’s time for internal communicators to take control of our destiny, and that was the point of Changing The Conversation in Birmingham yesterday.

Martin

Blogs about Changing The Convo

#ChangingTheConvo 2019 – Dan Holden, Horizon Comms

What I learnt at yesterday’s CIPR Inside conference – Matt Batten for allthingsIC

How to change conversations about internal communication – Rachel Miller allthingsIC

Mixing up your routine to function better… – Padraic Knox

Image credits : Tynesight Photographic Services and CIPR Inside

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