How IC it

What I like in the world of internal communications and employee engagement.

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

Ebola – addressing the internal comms challenge

Is your phone ringing yet? The call might have come from Health & Safety, HR, or even a concerned employee. But soon, somebody will be in touch with Internal Comms about doing something about Ebola.

The current outbreak of the Ebola virus in Africa is making headlines including this slightly misleading one about Birmingham airport.

I led internal comms during the 2009 swine flu pandemic. At times I felt that my role was not simply my comms skills but actually to be a voice of calm and balance when many stakeholders were running into something resembling panic.

And balance is the key principle here. Your efforts will need to reflect the level of risk, so clearly if your business operates in west Africa, you’ll already be into crisis mode. For the rest of us in Swansea, Sterling, Southampton or Sheffield, our job at this stage of the outbreak is careful considered comms.

So here is my guide to managing comms during a national or worldwide health scare. Download my outline comms plan which I hope gives you a framework to tailor for your own business and for any concern, from the current Ebola outbreak to swine flu, bird flu, or foot and mouth.

In the plan you’ll find:

  • Communications principles to make sure your activity is in line with actual risk levels, and ‘leaves you somewhere to go’ when risk and media coverage ramp up.
  • Outline key messages by priority audiences and at increasing risk levels.
  • Sample FAQs to get you started.

Download the plan here: Ebola comms plan

Want more?


Vintage vibe: IC skills we have lost

Last week Headlines published an expert view on what people considered the most important skills in internal comms today. Here’s the Headlines piece and a few views from my Twitter network.

I was then updating my points in the IoIC’s continuous professional development (CPD) scheme and I started thinking about skills I used to rely on and regular tasks that I don’t do any more. Some I’m glad to see the back of, while others feel like important skills that we should be preserving…

Gone and not forgotten

1. Waiting for the courier to bike magazine proofs over to clients because the files were too big to email. Yes, 1996, I’m looking at you.

2. Watching the ISDN line flicker as your publication limped its way to the printer. When the agency I worked for, Trident Communications, pioneered the use of high-res pdfs it changed our lives. You’re welcome.

3. Cromalins and chinagraphs – if you’ve never felt the squeak of a wax pencil on an Iris proof, I envy you your youth. Ask your mother (or Wikipedia). Just imagine your whole desk covered with a single sheet proof for you to check the layout, colours and imposition before the presses roll. No pressure.

4. Character counting. When a designer drops a sheaf of black and white proofs on you with “84 character headline in here two decks” above your perfectly crafted news story and you have to remember that ‘i’ and ‘l’ are half spaces, and write him a headline that is both brilliant and fills the space to his satisfaction.

Don’t fade away

1. Interviewing – when was the last time you sat down and interviewed someone for a story? Or are you more likely to work from someone’s draft or a 70-slide PowerPoint deck because “it’s all in there”? I think interviewing skills are still vital – not only is it the best chance to ask the questions employees will want answered, but rounding off with an open “What else have you been up to lately?’ type question is a great way to uncover further stories.

2. Shorthand. Yes, I know it’s niche. But learning shorthand (in evening classes, from tapes) is one of the best things I’ve done. It’s great for accurate notes during interviewing (see 1 above) and a brilliant ice-breaker when people spot you squiggling away. Now, if someone wants to invent an iPad app that transcribes Pitman 2000 into text, it’d change my life. I’d buy an iPad for a start…

3. Briefing photographers and illustrators – or is it iStock image bank all the way as you try and balance the photo budget? Do you even have a photo budget any more?

What would you say are the most vital skills for today’s internal communicators?

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