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CIPR Inside conference on 7 October

There was a great line up of speakers at today’s CIPR Inside conference in London, including David MacLeod, Nita Clarke and Euan Semple.

David emphasised the critical nature of internal communication in underpinning employee engagement. He also confirmed that engagement is still topical though many organisations mistakenly think it’s just about an annual survey. This led on to fascinating head to head debate between David Clarke and Sean Trainor on the value of measurement, with David arguing the case for it and Sean taking a seriously sceptical view. In the end, the verdict of the 100 or so delegates was equally split, though everyone on my table voted for Sean. I don’t think measurement is going to go away and my own view is that it is over-focused on surveys (the what) and not nearly enough attention is given to qualitative research (the why). Furthermore, most surveys also ask the wrong questions. Time for a major re-think.

I am often struck by the way that introducing the word “brand” into internal communication and employee engagement gives the whole topic more spice. Brands are sexy, internal communication is dull. Speakers from Aviva, Heineken, and Thomson Reuters provided some great examples of the power of the brand to engage employees. Brand attributes seem to be more real somehow than organisational values.

Euan talked about disintermediation and the likely impact on the middle men of internal communication at the same time as promoting the opportunities for advising managers about social media. I liked his analogy about messy organisations and the way that order does not always work; I too get lost in Milton Keynes. My own top ten tips on social media for internal communication can be found here.

In the afternoon we had more in-depth presentations from Andrew Routledge at British Gas, Claire Walker from Firefly Communications and Sally Sykes from the Health and Safety Executive. Sally made some very good points about the way that austerity focuses minds and generates more collaboration – doing more with less is going to be a big theme in the coming year.

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