What happens when you get comms pros and project managers in a room to talk about change?

By Becky Hall | Chair of CIPR East Anglia | @beckyhall210

One in three projects do not achieve the intended goals (PMI).

If comms pros and project managers, with their qualifications, charterships and experience, know the principles of making change stick in organisations, why do so many change initiatives fail? It was a recurring question at an event in Cambridge this week led by CIPR East Anglia and the APM‘s East of England branch about delivering effective change through great engagement.

After thought-provoking presentations from CIPR Chartered Practitioner Jo Twiselton and the APM’s Kevin Brown, we all sat in small groups for some lively group therapy discussion about ‘doing change right’. It was clear from the off that there was heaps of knowledge and experience in the room. We were in broad agreement that the organisation – not the project team or comms professional – needs to genuinely feel accountable for making the change stick. Otherwise the change (eg new IT system, new process, new organisational structure, new organisational values) will be delivered but the business outcomes everyone wanted (eg efficiency, happier employees, better customer experience) will not.

Some great points were made about things that should always be done from an engagement perspective:

  1. Listening, empathy and co-creation – emotional intelligence and bringing people along on the journey is super important. Jo presented these points to the whole group at the start of the session and emphasised how – while they seem like obvious things to do – they are often totally overlooked. Lots of nodding heads in the room!
  2. Ask the difficult question(s) and don’t accept rubbish answers without challenging a bit firstPMs and comms people should ask ‘but why this and why now?’ more, and with more conviction, having each other’s backs as we do this. I’ve myself picked up comms for projects where the business lead is too busy or is just entirely uninterested, and sometimes a difficult conversation is necessary, or the organisation wastes time, money and morale.
  3. Stop things at the gates if necessary – Comms pros could get leaders’/clients’ understanding and support for the things that we know change initiatives and projects need to have or be in order to not be a total car crash. If the project is already set up to fail, should we more boldly say this to our leaders and explain there are other business priorities that need communications support where our expertise would make a bigger difference for the organisation?
  4. Do away with rose tintsHonest conversations and reports about progress, warts and all, and measuring success against business outcomes rather than activity is an absolute must. If Project Managers are under pressure to fill their highlight reports with lovely green RAG statuses, or communications people are only judged on how many people have received their newsletters, organisations lose sight of the purpose of the change. Over time, trust erodes between the project team and leaders. Leaders feel foolish for over-promising and project teams don’t feel listened to.

It was also acknowledged that there is a lot outside of a communications professional’s control that influences the success/failure of change initiatives. Suggestions included:

  • Leaders should have a checklist to run through before work is funded, project team is assembled and an excited email goes out from the leadership team. Is there an influential sponsor who genuinely gives a cr*p about making this happen?! Is the change a priority and are we prepared to stop other things to get this done properly?
  • Organisations need to be prepared to change course if information (closure reports, feedback surveys, assessments of sponsors) reveals it’s needed. This may involve some difficult decisions and conversations – eg if a project just needs to be put on hold or a different sponsor is required) – but organisations must be bold and not continue just because changing direction is too hard.

With all that knowledge and understanding of change in the room, why – we all were discussing at the end of the session – do so many change initiatives fail? Someone mused it’s because people are unpredictable and change needs people’s support to be successful. 

I came away wondering if it’s because the facts we hear about all the time – eg one in three projects do not achieve the intended goals – are based on statistics that include projects that should never have been started in the first place. If the stats filtered out the projects that didn’t have an engaged and effective sponsor, or that the organisation simply wasn’t ready for yet, would the statistics be more cheering?

What do you think?


Watch out for details about the next CIPR East Anglia and APM event in Spring 2020.

Ten reasons to choose an agency outside London

By Rachel Cass, senior account manager, Genesis PR.

It’s easy to get distracted by the ‘London factor’ when choosing an agency but the truth is, there are top PR consultancies based outside London across the country. Thanks to technology, clients can connect wherever they are, and location is not an issue when selecting an agency.

So, why are companies from FTSE 100 to SMEs choosing PR agencies based outside the big cities? Here is the rundown:

1 It’s a small world

General advances in technology e.g. skype, enable people to connect from anywhere in the world, while the rise of flexible working means many PR professionals are equipped to work remotely, providing the additional benefit of a highly responsive service.

2 Back to the roots

Consumers are demanding more personal connections to brands and businesses which has seen a rise in grassroots PR. Regional agency teams tend to live in local communities and so understand the area and local issues. Regional agencies are also experts in regional, local and hyper local media and often specialists in creating campaigns which relate to a variety of different audiences.

3 Nimble agencies

The nature and make up of regional agencies mean they are often more agile and responsive – an essential skill in today’s 24/7 media environment – and can adapt more quickly to clients’ changing needs.

4 The A-team

Regional agencies tend to put a more hands-on, senior team members on client accounts. With larger agencies, the pitch may be done by a director, but more junior employees often carry out the day to day work.

5 Personal service

Staff turnover rates are lower at regional agencies so the account team you sign up to is less likely to change. Building trusted relationships is an essential ingredient of successful PR – both with clients and media – and these can only be built over time. Longer standing partnerships ensure the needs of clients are fully understood and the best outcomes delivered.

6 Value for money

Lower overheads mean lower costs, so you avoid the London premium and get better value for money.

7 Size doesn’t matter

Regional agencies get things done! They are not part of a big machine and have fewer levels and layers, so can work faster and smarter.

8 Working hard

Regional agencies have a point to prove and as a result, often work harder to show they can more than contend with city agencies, again, providing better value for money.

9 Talent pools

Talent and creativity exist around the UK, not just in the cities. Exceptional agencies across the country are attracting top PR professionals who don’t want the London commute and are helping to grow creative hubs outside of the major cities. Outstanding talent can be found in many locations such as Suffolk which offers a highly attractive alternative. More and more universities are also offering PR and creative degrees, meaning that expertise is developing across the country.

10 Multi-skilled

Professionals at regional agencies are often required to master a wider range of skills whereas larger agencies tend to have dedicated employees working on specific aspects of PR. Whilst this offers honed expertise it can lead to a disjointed approach which impacts on results.

At the end of the day, choosing an agency should be based on how well the team understands a client’s needs and its ability to deliver campaigns that strike a chord with your audience, not location.

Winning hearts and minds for a brand update – the critical role of internal communications

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By Ruth Jackson, Co-Lead for the CIPR East Anglia Best PRactice Conference 2020 and Communications Manager, Cambridge Enterprise. First published on LinkedIn Monday 25 November 2019: http://bit.ly/2qK0lOD

If you’re preparing for a brand launch for a SME – either a new brand from scratch or an update like the one I project-managed for Cambridge Enterprise recently – your big question will be: “What is the most critical factor for success?”. Pinning down your unique position in your marketplace, the spot where your brand can truly shine? Ensuring the brand persona speaks effectively to your customers? Or an outstanding design agency that will nail the creative aspect of your brand?

All those factors are key of course but, just as the most beautiful website in the world is redundant without a digital strategy to drive traffic to it, a brand that is not understood and loved by its own people is doomed to fail. Your shiny new marketing materials, seamlessly integrated to trumpet your new or refreshed identity, are flimsy façades without the support of your colleagues to adopt them in their interactions with customers. They’ll find reasons to go rogue with the PowerPoint template or forget to use that brand banner at an event, and they won’t be on message with customers.

A brand launch or update means change and change often meets with resistance. The less corporate and the more democratic the culture, the higher your chances of that happening. How can you counter this?

  1. No surprises: develop an internal communications campaign to run alongside the brand project. We used our monthly company meetings to introduce the project and its value, and we then kept them updated on progress; the process culminated in a brand launch at a company-wide meeting.
  2. Engage your internal influencers: ensure you get the support of key senior managers and stakeholders from the start. We created a small steering group  that served as both a safe testing ground for our early brand development work and as advocates for the project internally.
  3. No change, no gain: be very clear about how your brand launch or update will add value – if you’ve done your homework properly, it’ll link back to your company’s mission, vision and corporate objectives and therefore resonate well with your colleagues as well as your customers. At launch, we led with the message that, because we had done this homework, the updated brand would make it easier for our colleagues to do their job, by giving them integrated marketing materials that deliver the right messages clearly, coherently and consistently.
  4. Manage expectations: explain what resources are available, make sure your colleagues know how to get help and enlist their support. At launch, we went through the full list of what had been updated, provided FAQs and created a Brand Helpdesk email. We then made sure everything was available on a specially created ‘brand update’ page on our intranet.
  5. Don’t be too serious: add a couple of fun elements to the launch materials to help engage your colleagues’ support. We gave everyone their own brand pack that, alongside their new business cards and a ‘quick start’ brand guide, included a branded notebook and some stickers for use on laptops. We also celebrated the moment with a branded and very delicious cake!

As a result of following a rigorous process that was closely aligned to our business strategies as well as keeping a clear, constant eye on our internal communications, our colleagues have responded well to the launch and early customer feedback is positive. Do the same and you’ll arrive at launch day to discover that the battle to win the hearts and minds of your colleagues for your new or revised brand is already half won.

CIPR PRide Awards Podcast: Catch up on the winners

Cambridge TV, one of our regional sponsors, have very kindly produced this podcast to capture the highlights from this autumn’s CIPR Pride Awards. 

This autumn, we celebrated the outstanding work and efforts of PR professionals from our region at the CIPR PRide Awards. 

I know how much goes into delivering a successful campaign. So I wanted to help acknowledge the hard work and effort by organising the awards night for the Thames, Anglia and Chiltern region. 

This year, it was held at The Guildhall in Cambridge. It was a pleasure and an honour to be involved. And many thanks to Cambridge TV who offered to produce this highlights podcast. 

Listen to the podcast in full here…. 

Celebrating the work of our region’s PR professionals

CIPR PRide Awards, Cambridge. Photo credit: Knight Media Communication

Lucy Wright is our podcast host. She won last year’s Young Communicator of the Year category, and speaks to the key people involved with our region’s awards. 

Becky Hall, Chair of CIPR East Anglia, talks about the benefits of being a member and outlines the various events and networking opportunities available. 

Kerry Sheehan was our region’s head judge this year. As well as providing some really helpful feedback on where some entries could’ve been stronger, she also speaks about the future of PR, particularly the role artificial intelligence will play for our profession. 

Then Lucy catches up with Jenny Sanchis, who was named this year’s Young Communicator of the Year. Jenny is advocating for improvements to PR campaign measurement and, and encourages her clients to be ‘pushing back on outdated metrics’. 

“I presented something different to the judges,” she says. “My entry wasn’t about traditional campaign, it argued the importance of PR, research and measurement. 

“Winning was a really nice surprise and I’m really grateful the judges awarded me considering the strong field of candidates who also entered.” 

To those who won awards, many congratulations and winning a PRide Award is a massive achievement. Everyone nominated should also be incredibly proud. 

If you came along to the awards night in Cambridge, I really hope you enjoyed the evening. 

Sorry if you weren’t able to make it, but I hope this podcast gives you a flavour of what CIPR East Anglia offers and the achievement of winning an award. 

Listen to the podcast in full at our SoundCloud account.

A list of award winners and their entries is available on the PRide Awards website. 

Cambridge TV offers a full range of services and a variety of courses in multimedia and production. 

View the photo gallery from the evening.

2019 PRide Award Sponsors

What 18 years as a freelancer has taught me

By Judith Gaskell

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This month marks 18 years since I became an independent consultant; a sort of coming of age you could say. So to celebrate freelance maturity I thought I’d share 18 observations I’ve made during this time.

  1. The majority of business will to come from people you already know, or people who know them (but occasionally they will find you on Google).
  2. The most enthusiastic and urgent potential new client is likely to be the one that comes to nothing.
  3. Remember, your contacts are the tools of your trade so guard them carefully. I’ve been offered an hour’s fee for spending an hour giving away all my contacts (my refusal there turned into a long term client!) and asked for my full contacts list when a contract came to an end (I politely declined).
  4. It’s a tricky balancing act giving enough information to win the business and not so much they could do it without you!
  5. A client can decide to appoint you more than two years after the first meeting.
  6. The less work you have the fitter you are (time for daytime exercise classes!)
  7. If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t (arranging to meet the guy whose ‘wife’ was starting a website selling ‘adult products’ in Starbucks?) .
  8. While you can’t afford daylong training courses in London you can get so much from the cpd available from CIPR.
  9. You can get so much support fromother pr people. The people I’ve met through the CIPR Connects in Cambridge have proved to be great sounding boards, inspirational and great fun to be around!
  10. You’ll no longer specialise. People often ask me what my specialist area is but after 18 years I’ve pretty much done it all!
  11. You’ll have your one ‘meeting outfit’ and spend the rest of the time in jeans or gym clothes.
  12. When you do spend time in an office you’ll realise how things have changed. When did everyone start sitting at their computers with headphones permanently on (causing some very one sided conversations on my part) or tappng away at laptops in meetings?
  13. You’ll find skills you didn’t know you had. When asked if I could find 60 social media influencers to come to an event I made sure I could (helped by a great session at the CIPR East Anglia Conference).
  14. On occasion you’ll bore those you live with stupid about the minutiae of your day because you’ve not spoken to anyone else!
  15. You’ll undersell yourself on occasion, but you’ll learn from that experience.
  16. You’ll wonder who the people are who get work from agencies who promise to link clients with freelancers (and you’ll have the ignominy of being rejected by an algorithm for one!)
  17. While you won’t get the stress that comes from working for others you will feel stressed when you’ve too much work (and don’t know whether to turn it away) or too little you worry about paying the bills.
  18. You’ll know it was the right move because you got to work with some great people on some great projects and were still there for all the milestones of your daughter growing up!

Judith Gaskell http://www.cambridgepr.biz

“Let’s be loud and proud about our commitment to continuous learning” – Chair’s reflections on 2018-9

By Becky Hall, Chair of CIPR East Anglia 2018-19

It has been a lively and memorable eighteen months for CIPR East Anglia. As we congratulate and welcome in the newly elected committee who will lead activities for 2020, I want to take the opportunity to humblebrag tell you about some of the highlights from the last year and a half and thank the brilliant team of switched-on and dedicated volunteers who made it all happen.

Engaging our local community of CIPR members

The committee of nine delivered 11 learning events where both members and non-members got together to learn about topics from artificial intelligence to change communications to LinkedIn.

The committee also hosted over 20 free Connect events for people working in communications to meet up informally in Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Chelmsford, Peterborough, Norwich and Ipswich. The most active areas for these events continue to be Cambridge and Bury, with a growing network in Norwich. The areas that currently have a smaller network but huge potential for growth are Peterborough and Ipswich – get in touch if you want to help us get people together in these areas!

Wellbeing

There has been a concerted effort to give members opportunities to engage with the issue of mental health. The University of Cambridge hosted a popular event for us in October 2018 where two members shared experiences and knowledge of monitoring and managing wellbeing for ourselves and others. Following this, the 2019 conference programme included a breakout session on the topic and we have published and shared three blogs written by members about how communications people can take care of their mental health. Let’s keep this conversation going – do get involved.

Local members and their professional development

More and more of our ~540 members are investing in their professional development and making use of the CIPR’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) resources, though in the 2018/19 cycle only one in three members had logged enough CPD points to complete the cycle and work towards becoming Accredited. Let’s be loud and proud about our commitment to continuous learning and encourage other members to log those all important 60 points before Spring 2020!

Professionalising PR continues to be one of the CIPR’s priorities and the great news is there was a significant increase in the number of people in our region becoming Chartered members between 2018 and 2019 following awareness campaigns nationally and locally. Get in touch if you are considering Chartership and would like to speak to somebody who has recently experienced the process. Email CIPREastAnglia@gmail.com

Awards

The PRide Awards continues to be a highlight of the year for many PR practitioners in the East Anglia and Thames and Chiltern regions, and, encouragingly, entries increased significantly in 2018 compared to 2017 which indicates teams are proud and confident of the value they bring to organisations. As, across the country, there are more and more industry PR awards emerging, the East Anglia committee will continue to work hard to make sure local comms pros know how they and/or their organisation would benefit from entering PRide. There’s a huge amount of comms talent in the region – let’s get it formally recognised and celebrate it!

Check out the 2019 shortlist

Charity

After working with two charities in 2016, 2017 and 2018 as part of the GiveBack scheme, the committee has updated how the scheme works for charities and volunteers so that charities get even more bespoke communications support and volunteers can be sure that they pro bono communications support they will be offering is in the areas of interest to them. 

Want to offer some pro bono communications support? Email CIPREastAnglia@gmail.com

Online community

East Anglia has an active and lively Twitter presence and there continues to be lively chat and debate between @CIPR_EastAnglia and members. The 2018 and 2019 conferences’ hashtags trended locally which was fantastic.

To prompt conversations online, the committee has posted 15 blogs written by members on www.ciprea.org and the Facebook group continues to be used by committee members to share news and blogs. There is potential for the Facebook group to be used more by members when they have challenges or ideas that they could talk about with peers.

Thank you

I am really proud of what the committee has delivered over the last eighteen months and thank our network of members who have presented at or shared knowledge at our events and webinars; judged entries for the PRide Awards; written blogs; hosted events at their offices and kept our regular meetups alive and kicking at local pubs across the region!

Here’s to another great year for communications professionals in East Anglia.

Why we need to take better care of our mental health

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By Lucy Wright, Media Officer at Greater Anglia

This week the CIPR has launched resources to help PRs with their mental health.

A new skills guide and a webinar, developed with the mental health charity Mind, has been designed to help employers build a working environment that supports positive mental health and advises practitioners on how to take care of their mental wellbeing.

The guide, which is available free of charge on the CIPR website, includes guidance for organisations, managers and individuals – including independent practitioners and a link to resources which can help anyone in need.

I believe this is something which is very much needed in our industry.

Earlier this year at the CIPR East Anglia conference, Leanne Ehren held a session about wellbeing and creativity. Many comms professionals deal with trauma in their working life or suffer from stress and burnout.

During the session Leanne told us that 60% of people in our profession has been diagnosed with a mental illness – and this number is on the rise.

The group listed ways in which work had an adverse effect on their wellbeing from working long hours, being on call, long commutes, workload and loneliness.

We then suggested ways to tackle these – those who felt lonely could collaborate with other freelancers, enforced breaks, downtime with the team and flexible working.

There is an expectation that comms people will always be bright and happy – we are often seen as ‘fixers’ – but sometimes this preconception couldn’t be further from the truth.

Over the past few weeks with the summer well underway, there has been a lot of discussion about checking emails while on annual leave, with many admitting to checking their emails daily when they are on holiday. If you really must keep in touch with the office, maybe have a fixed time every day, that way you can manage expectations, fully devote a small pocked of time to work and then fully enjoy the rest of the day.

I would encourage everyone to look at the guide, put aside some time to complete the webinar and think how you can better care for your mental health.

It’s so important to put yourself first – go for walks, eat lunch away from your desk, turn your phone off at a reasonable hour, and fully enjoy time spent away from the office because ultimately, we are the ones who will pay the price if we don’t.

How do you care for your mental health? What strategies help you at work?

 

Inspirational and practical insight at #BestPRactice19

By Adam Driver, Senior Associate – Client Services at Cambridge-based content marketing agency CPL.

A few weeks on from the sixth Best PRactice conference, this time in sunny Norwich, and I’m adding a different perspective to Jon Wilcox’s blog. I’ve been reflecting on the benefits of hearing from key industry experts in one place, and the sharing of experiences with other PR professionals.

What a fantastic afternoon in Norwich, with PR and comms professionals from across the East of England coming together to learn, share best practice and meet fellow practitioners – be that in-house at local gov, NHS, charity, or other organisations, working for privately owned firms, freelancers or agency-side.

This was the third CIPR East Anglia conference I’ve attended, and was the best – so far. More on why, below.

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It’s at this point I should point out that, although I’m on the East Anglia committee, I take no credit for this wonderful event. I simply ran social media on the lead up to the event and on the day (it was great to see #BestPRactice19 trending on Twitter!). Huge congratulations and thanks to the whole team – especially Charlotte Stratta of Norwich City Council – who organised a fantastic conference.

Additional thanks to the event sponsor Brand Recruitment, the (apt) National Centre for Writing for helping us hold the event at the beautiful Dragon Hall, and to SGA Video and Events for documenting the day.

So, why so good?

Inspirational speakers

A huge thank you to all the speakers, some of whom travelled a long way to come and engage with us. Everyone was superb, kept the audience engaged and interactive, and left us with great takeaways.

For me, hearing the no-holds-barred approach to professionalising communications from CIPR UK President Elect Jenni Field was really motivating – chiming with a lot of my own personal thoughts on the state of the PR industry at the moment. Looking forward to her getting stuck in soon.

Secondly, I was really pleased to hear Asif Choudry, founder of #CommsHero, give an inspirational talk about how we should ‘dare to fail’, take risks and celebrate our successes. Thanks for taking the time Asif, especially during Ramadan.

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Practical takeaways

For me, living and working much of my time on social, Darren Caveney’s enlightening presentation on Supercharged Social Media was a highlight. Some great examples of organisations punching well above their weight, owning their topics and conversations.

Other sessions I attended included Advita Patel’s in-depth look at communications for change (a very relevant topic for lots of us), influencer expert Harry Seaton, who walked an initially-wary audience through the value (and measurement) of influencing, Leanne Ehren (below) with her superb take on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, and Sally Beadle’s explanation of her evolving producer’s role at BBC Look East – which all went down well.

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Faces to names (Twitter handles)

Too many people to name check individually, but I loved meeting so many people I’d connected with online, IRL.

Living in the East means that connecting and chatting with other comms folk is sometimes challenging. We make it work, however, and events like this are great or facilitating those conversations and prompting networking, ideas and (sometimes) a good moan. Us comms people have to stick together!

Look forward to seeing more of you at CIPR connect events (in pubs?) around the region this summer.

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Insight, foresight, more sight

DJ Shadow sums up my feelings on the conference there – we came, we learnt, we got inspired and we looked ahead. The future of our beloved industry is in a state of flux, but with proponents such as Jenni (direct, authentic leadership for her presidency) at the helm, I am very excited to continue my professional journey to become a chartered PR professional.

What next?

Onto the next event – check here for local meet ups near you, and sign up to Eventbrite to be kept in the loop for other events coming up soon (including a maximising LinkedIn session from yours truly in July).

Thoughts on the Best PRactice Conference… from a non-member (oo!)

Delegates at a CIPR E Anglia Best PRactice Conference

By Jon Wilcox, Senior Communications Manager at Cambridge-based computer games studio Jagex. He is also co-founder of Cambridgeshire-based comms networking group PR Hub and co-host of its spin-off podcast, The PR Hub Podcast.

The sixth CIPR East Anglia Best PRactice Conference took place in Norwich yesterday, having uprooted itself from its previously established home of Cambridge. Taking place – rather aptly – at the delightful National Centre of Writing, the event welcomed practitioners from across the region to hear speakers discuss topics as diverse as influencer marketing and managing online crisis communications, to internal communications and mental health in the industry.

At this point I’m going to hold my hand up and make a couple of admissions: firstly, I’m not a member of the CIPR (or any industry body for that matter); and secondly, this was my first CIPR conference and so was unsure about what to expect.

It. Did. Not. Disappoint.

After a warm welcome from regional chair Becky Hall, CIPR president-elect Jenni Field took the mic to discuss for the very first time her plans for the organisation during her term in 2020. In a speech that was palpably honest about the current state of the wider organisation and its members, Field set out a robust slate of objectives that will need to be focused on beyond her 12-month term. Her ambition, to promote and improve professional conduct among CIPR members, as well as plug the skills gaps that exist in the PR industry, is admirable and should be supported by members and fellows alike. It will be absolutely fascinating to watch her strive to implement them next year, and I for one wish her and the CIPR the very best of luck – when accomplished, the industry as a whole will be all the better for their efforts.

The mix of keynote speakers throughout the afternoon couldn’t be faulted, with Comms2Point0’s Darren Caveney talk about supercharging social media revealing the very interesting – and in the case of Doncaster Council’s Twitter account, amusing – ways in which using social channels continue to evolve. Sally Beadle, senior producer at BBC Look East, discussed how its regional news programmes are looking to stay relevant in the face of increasing challenges including an aging demographic and changing ways in which we consume our news; while Asif Choudry’s insight into how his company’s Comms Hero conferencing brand came about, and continues to go from strength-to-strength, showed exactly how practitioners should approach networking.

Away from the keynotes were the breakout workshops. Six were on offer over two sessions, and there were some difficult choices to make; I attended the very open and honest talk from Leanne Ehren about the increasing strain and toll on practioners’ mental health in the workplace, which was very apt given the conference too place during Mental Health Awareness Week. Ehren’s workshop, which saw attendees discuss the causes and solutions of mental ill health in the workplace, was incredibly useful. As an industry we find ourselves under increasing stress, so to share peer-to-peer advice on how to manage workplace pressure was invaluable. Finally, Helpful Digital’s Alasdair Dick offered a glimpse into the fast-paced world of managing crisis communications online which follows tried and tested tenets, but potentially at a speed several magnitudes faster than most would perhaps realise.

With the final workshop of the afternoon complete came the chance to network with fellow comms professionals over a drink before catching the train. Having completed my first CIPR East Anglia conference, I was left contemplating my key takeaway from the event…

… And my overriding thought? That there is an indelible eagerness among practitioners across the region to do their very best, to continue developing their skills and share their learnings, regardless of the industry sector and discipline in which they work. For me, it was both reassuring and affirming. It was a really interesting and valuable afternoon spent in Norwich, my thanks to the organising team at the CIPR East Anglia for their collective effort. I’m already looking forward to booking my conference ticket next year.

 

“It boosted my confidence and has opened up a lot of opportunities” – Enter this year’s PRide Awards

This guest blog is by Lucy Wright, Press Officer at Greater Anglia and Young Communicator of the Year 2018

Last year, I was named Outstanding Young Communicator of the Year for the Anglia, Thames and Chiltern Region. 

I’ve worked as a press officer at Greater Anglia for four years. Prior to this, I worked in communications for another global transport operator and I was a journalist on a daily newspaper for three years.

Working in railway comms can be very challenging. Following an incredibly busy year dealing with industrial action which was a very public and sensitive issue, leading a rail safety campaign and working as part of a small team running a busy press office, it felt like a good time to enter the awards.

I applied for the award earlier in the summer and the application was in two parts – a written submission and an interview.

PRide Awards

The written application focused on my commitment to Continuing Professional Development, work-related achievements and how they related to the industry, challenges I had faced at work and details of a campaign which had gone well.

One of my most effective campaigns was about rail safety. Although the UK operates the safest railway in Europe, we suffer a number of incidents which are avoidable, such as trespass, train surfing and fly tipping on the railway. All of these are highly dangerous, delay trains and cost the industry millions of pounds every year.

Submitting your award entry

When writing an award application, it’s really important to include details of measurement and evaluation and how this relates to wider work in the organisation and industry.

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After submission, I was invited to an interview at the University of Suffolk where I discussed my day-to-day role, campaigns I had worked on, qualifications I had studied for in my own time and the biggest issues I faced at work.

It was the first time I had entered the CIPR awards. My manager encouraged me to enter the Outstanding Young Communicator category and our team also entered (and won silver) for the best use of social media for our work during the Beast from the East.

I was absolutely thrilled and so proud to win the award. It boosted my confidence and has opened up a lot of opportunities.

Advice for others

My advice to anyone considering entering the awards would be to just go for it.

If you need some help writing the entry, I would recommend one of the CIPR East Anglia’s award writing workshops, which are being held this month.

If you line manage someone who you think would be a good candidate, suggest that they enter and help support their application. You have absolutely nothing to lose by entering and everything to gain – good luck!


Visit the CIPR PRide Awards website to enter your campaigns this year.