In just two days, more than 160 of Melbourne’s communicators met face to face with Russell Grossman ABC, IABC’s global president.
This is in addition to the 75 people who attended the annual IABC End of Year Networking event, which Russell has decreed is a “must attend” event for any IABC global chair.
Russell had 10 meetings with a range of current and prospective corporate members from both government and private enterprise.
The agenda for each was set by the organisation, with Russell variously presenting his view of communication trends for the coming year, or answering questions and helping practitioners find solutions to some of their current challenges.
There were two topics that kept coming up – how to enhance employee engagement and how to demonstrate the value of the communications function to senior stakeholders.
Here are a few of Russell’s key takeaways on these subjects:
Engagement is not something that you do; it’s something that you get.
Engagement is not about happy staff; it’s productive staff.
There are four enablers of engagement
- Strategic narrative – a story, in simple language, that all staff can understand and relate to
- Having engaging managers – those who shine a light, not cast a shadow
- Employee voice – staff are heard
- Organisational integrity – people genuinely live the values (eg, if a value is all staff are treated equally, there is no preferential parking for senior staff).
Demonstrating the value of the communications function to senior stakeholders
Competence; confidence; and courage are key to making connections and being heard.
Be the grit in the oyster without being the pin in the balloon. Be willing to examine what you are doing – demonstrate that you know what you are doing and you know it well – and you will get respect.
Speak to stakeholders in language they understand; we ‘do words’ but the business usually likes numbers. So, make sure you measure and know your numbers – and actively seek opportunities to share them.
Consider what you could do that might generate an improvement in the bottom line.
Energetic, optimistic people get a good response … leaders just want a solution – so present someone with a solution – then figure out how you’ll do it.
Are you in and visible, or are you invisible?
He also offered six practical tips for success for communications practitioners, in light of the current trends:
- Base campaigns more than ever on research and evidence. A good strategy is to consider the 4 ‘I’s: insights; ideas; implementation; and impact.
- Be clear about the story we’re trying to tell, and make sense to the audience. Consider the EAST process – make it Easy; Attractive; Shareable; and Timely.
- Gain and constantly retain the confidence of leaders and clients
- Use project management techniques to ensure integrated campaigns – especially as you need to be masters of digital
- Evaluate and measure your impact, and know the change in awareness, understanding and behaviour
- Actively collaborate and partner.
If you would like to know more, and get a glimpse into UK best practice, Russell generously shared three free resource hubs developed by the UK civil service:
We are very grateful to Russell for making time to come to Melbourne – which he describes as his favourite city in the world.