Igloo Software joins FIR as our latest sponsor

Igloo SoftwarePlease join us in welcoming Igloo Software as the latest FIR Podcast Network sponsor.

Igloo, which offers a web-based platform for collaborating at work, will join Ragan Communications and CustomScoop as sponsors of The Hobson and Holtz Report.

Through the Igloo platform, employees can share files, get (and share) answers, solve problems, locate information and expertise, and tap into the collective knowledge of the company’s customers, partners and peers, from wherever they are.

For up to 10 people, Igloo is free, with per-user pricing after that. Gamification, social analytics and other state-of-the-art elements are built into the platform, which can be customized to reflect your organization’s image. Companies using Igloo’s intranet software include Kimberly-Clark and International Data Corporation. The company is headquartered in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

Igloo intranet

As always, we strive to identify sponsors whose products and services are relevant to the FIR community. We’re confident we’ve achieved that goal with the addition of Igloo to The Hobson and Holtz Report. Please show them your support by checking out the site and seeing what they have to offer.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

Redefining today’s communicator in Norway

Communications Day 2014When I look at the landscape of the communication profession around Europe, I see similar issues that concern communicators, most notably how strategic are communicators (and the profession itself), abiding by codes of conduct and practicing ethical behaviour, and being professional.

It’s a topic in the front of my mind as I finalise plans for a keynote presentation to the members of the Norwegian Communications Association on March 27.

The devil’s in the detail, of course, and what’s hot in one country isn’t necessarily at the same temperature in another.

In the UK, for instance, a current strong focus is on professionalism following the findings published by the CIPR last month in its ‘state of the profession’ survey and a clear call to action by CIPR President Stephen Waddington who asked, “How serious are PR practitioners about putting their ambition to be considered a professional into practice?”

I do wonder at times how serious people really are: behaviours people say they want to emulate too often don’t match what I see people do.

Actually, I think this is a very hot issue everywhere even if many individuals may not realise it is. You only have to read the Edelman Trust Barometer 2014 – the results of a survey of 33,000 people in 27 countries – to get a sense of why it’s hot.

So while professional associations like the CIPR and the Norwegian Communications Association look at the big picture and ways to galvanize action among its members, I’m focused on what individuals can and must do to be professional, whatever their role in organizational communication and whatever their level in their organizations.

On March 27, I’ll be in Norway at Communications Day 2014 (or, rather, Kommunikasjonsdagen 2014 – hashtag #komdagen) to deliver a keynote presentation that I’ve titled “Redefining Today’s Communicator.”

From the description on the event website:

Today’s communicator must, as never before, have clear vision and understanding of how communication and the communicator are key strategic assets that support measurable business objectives. Today’s communicator has a key role to play in the rapidly-changing landscape that embraces organization change, behavioral change and technology change; and the online world where the three intersect.

In an age where anyone can claim to be a communicator in business, Neville Hobson will illustrate what professional communicators must do to prove their relevance and context in what they do for their employers and clients.

A pretty broad brush, but I intend to speak to that big topic of professionalism and present some ideas on what we all need to do. I want it to be a relevant piece of the jigsaw, the whole of which will be revealed by presentations from others on the day – Michael Murphy, for instance, talking about the challenges, disruptive influences and opportunities which are shaping the communications functions of the future; and Sigbjørn Aanes, State Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, talking about “communication, sausages and politics” (can’t wait to hear that one!).

The organizers tell me that over 520 communicators will be there on March 27 – a really great representation of the communication profession in Norway.

There’s still time and space to sign up if you haven’t yet. And right below is a bit more information – an ad that was published in a Norwegian magazine last month.

Looking forward to being part of your day!

 Kommunikasjonsdagen 2014

Re-Defining Today’s Communicator

Dilbert

Two weeks into 2014 and much of the talk about what’s hot and what’s not for communicators is about technology.

Of the many, many tech topics that appear on trends and predictions lists, there are three that I believe warrant our attention in early 2014 above all others:

  1. Mobile: especially usage shifts and trends such as BYOD, the mobile cloud, and the “appification” of the workplace and business generally.
  2. Collaborative economy:  access to and/or use of an asset – a product or a service – when it’s needed, rather than the actual ownership of that asset; and the rise of peer communities to facilitate the sharing of and  access to products and services. This shift has big implications for businesses, both in how they sell products and services and in how employees work.
  3. Data analytics: gaining actionable insight from raw data needs a broad understanding of tools and methods to process that data, quickly and effectively. It also means a greater need to filter information, knowing what to look for and what to ignore. The need for expert knowledge is paramount, so the role of data analyst will grow. Yet not everything needs deep or detailed analytics, meaning the communicator needs “DIY skills.”

For communicators, the focus at the very least is understanding the role of technologies and behaviour shifts like these in the organisational communication setting, internally and externally. It’s not about being expert in use – although proficiency is clearly a good thing – nor being the go-to guy or gal for everyone with a question.

It’s about understanding…

  • the relevance and context of such technologies and behaviours in the workplace;
  • what communicators need to do; and
  • how, where and when.

Understanding digital and how to use social media have been a huge focus for communicators during the past few years. As knowledge of social networks, tools and channels have become mainstream – in society and in the workplace – and use more universal, the pressure for communicators to “embrace social” has grown to be almost overwhelming.

But today’s communicator must do much more than tweet and post likes to her timeline or pics to Instagram. Today’s communicator – at whatever level he or she occupies in the organisation – must, as never before, have clear vision and understanding of how communication and the communicator are key strategic assets that support measurable business objectives.

Here’s what you need to have as your foundation for 2014:

  1. Deep understanding of organisations and how they function.
  2. Understanding of your own organisation culture and structure.
  3. Knowing who the major influencers and key subject-matter experts are within the organisation.
  4. An impeccable understanding of your organisation’s business vision and mission.
  5. A clear view on the measurable benefits that can arise from being a ‘social business.’

Your foundation is critical to enabling you to fulfil the important role you must play in the rapidly-changing landscape that embraces organisation change, behavioural change and technology change; and where the three intersect, online and offline.

In an age where anyone can claim to be a communicator in business, it’s time for professional communicators to prove their relevance and context in what they do for their employers and clients, showing evidence through confident knowledge and the context of its benefit – the ROI – to the organisation.

Let’s get cracking!

First published by simply-communicate.com on January 10, 2014, as part of a larger feature entitled Internal Communications predictions for 2014.

The feature includes opinions from Marie Wallace, Analytics Strategist at IBM Social Business Division; Mike Grafham, Yammer Customer Success Lead; Kevin Ruck, Co-founder The PR Academy; Mark Morrell, Intranet Pioneer; Stephen Welch, President of IABC UK; Ian Buckingham, internal communications champion, senior partner at various IComms consultancies and author; Marc Wright, Publisher of simply-communicate; Tim Johns, Change Agency; The IC CrowdRachel Miller, Jenni Wheller, Dana Leeson; Euan Semple, Director, euansemple.com and author; Gloria Lombardi, Community Manager, Webmaster, Reporter at simply-communicate; and Neville Hobson (that’s me).

Dilbert cartoon at top of page by Scott Adams, published on December 26, 2010.

The social networking workplace conundrum

You're not allowed to use Facebook at work...

A conversation yesterday with someone whose employer blocks access to Facebook and other sites on the social web highlights a real conundrum with such bans, as Scott Adams perceptively illustrates in yesterday’s Dilbert comic strip.

Many employers cite time-wasting as a prime reason for such bans. Some worry about security risks and the threat of bringing in viruses into the corporate environment. Yet Alice in the Dilbert strip spotlights a flip side to such bans when she thinks about what she’ll do when not in the workplace.

And, broadly, that reflects what I heard yesterday in the conversation I mentioned. Not the exact words, but the clear meaning.

I wonder how may others think and act in similar fashion when old workplace control practices collide with newer behaviours and expectations of how you spend your time at work when “at work” has such an evolved meaning today.

Are bans worthwhile? I don’t believe they are at all, other than in workplaces where there is a very clear and obvious reason (hospitals, for example, and even then, an outright ban may not be the best way to address the issue).

For some years, my friend and podcasting colleague Shel Holtz has been at the vanguard of highlighting the issue, arguing a strong case for pros outweighing cons when it comes to enabling employee use of social media in the workplace – take a look at StopBlocking.org (it does wear its heart on its sleeve) and the resources there.

So the Pointy-Haired Boss thinks he has a win. I don’t think so – no one has a win in a situation like that. Everyone loses.

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Introducing “FIR presents AllthingsIC with Rachel Miller”

The FIR Podcast Network is pleased to announce a new podcast on internal communication that will begin on November 26, 2013. Presenter Rachel Miller explains…

employeegroupsmWho is doing what in the world of internal communication? You’re in the right place to find out.

I’m pleased to be joining the For Immediate Release fold with a brand new podcast, “FIR presents AllthingsIC with Rachel Miller.”

Every month I will be bringing you the latest news and views from an internal communication perspective.

As a keen listener of FIR over the years, I’ve enjoyed hearing Neville and Shel highlighting some of the good work that’s taking place globally with employees at the core.

My new monthly show will complement the existing podcast by showcasing some of the best in class examples of effective internal communication, and also look at what isn’t working so well and what we can learn from it.

I’ll be sharing practical hints and tips in each episode and looking to see what tools and resources are around for IC pros to access. There are thousands of smart people working in internal communication globally and I’d love to hear your thoughts via the FIR community.

I’ve written a blog on internal communication since 2009, and will write an article to accompany each episode of “FIR presents AllthingsIC with Rachel Miller” so you have all the information from each show to hand and can sit back with a cup of tea and listen rather than feeling like you need to make notes.

Each monthly show will be 20-30 minutes long and the first one will be published on 26 November.

I hope you enjoy the show and I look forward to communicating with you.

Rachel

Rachel MillerI’m Rachel Miller, MCIPR, PG (Dip). I’m an internal communication and social media strategist who consults, speaks and blogs on all things internal communication.

In 2013 I was named one of the UK’s leading social business influencers, and was a finalist for CIPR Outstanding PR Professional of the Year (People’s Choice).

Since 2009 I’ve written my own blog which led to Econsultancy recognising me in 2012 as one of the Top UK female bloggers. I was named in PR Week’s Top 29 under 29 professional communicators in the UK list (2009).

Every company is different and a one size fits all approach to communication simply doesn’t work. Though my business, All Things IC, I have the pleasure of working alongside companies to help them achieve communication excellence.

Find out more: www.allthingsic.com.

I’m on Twitter: @AllthingsIC.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

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Courage and the future of communication

Future

It’s interesting how the word ‘courage‘ crops up a great deal when I talk about communication.

I frequently use it when considering what I believe communicators must do in organizations – the ones they work in or those of their clients – when trying to persuade others to a particular course of action, or persuade others to change behaviours.

It’s a word that has great significance when we talk about the future of communication as that future involves a great deal of change and will require courage of communicators who must take a leading strategic role in ensuring the successful outcomes of such change.

It’s a word that I believe is central to a primary role of a communicator in the foreseeable future – that of calculating risk in the context of digital transformation in the workplace.

It underpinned much of my thinking last week when I gave a presentation jointly with Silvia Cambié about the future of communication at the IABC EMENA Leadership Institute 2013 conference in London on November 4.

It was a pleasure working with Silvia as we share much thinking about organizational communication, its evolution and the changing role of the communicator. And it was a pleasure to be part of an IABC event again.

In a post she published prior to the conference, Silvia speaks of how corporate communication is changing thanks to social media and new ways of working that collaborative technologies are bringing to organizations.

A new era is dawning, she declares, a view I believe in as well.

So we shared some metrics with leaders from across IABC’s Europe, Middle East and North Africa region about trends, changes and events that we see all around us in business, in people’s behaviours and desires, in technology developments and the contexts of many of those developments.

Behaviours, Mindset, Technology

We painted a picture of a landscape that is rapidly evolving and transforming, presenting significant opportunities and major challenges to organizations, their leaders and communicators – a landscape where people’s behaviours and their mindsets are huge drivers of change, and where technology is the enabler of change.

In my part of our session (the presentation deck I used is available for view or download from Slideshare), I outlined my belief on that risk assessment role I mentioned earlier:

The Communicator’s Role is to Calculate Risk

  1. Recognise and understand change
    - In the workplace
    - In stakeholder behaviours
    - In your overall landscape, internal and external
  2. Be attuned to trends and be able to interpret them
  3. Take a proactive and credible lead to educate and counsel
  4. Listen, learn, recommend

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yet it’s complex and requires deep understanding of the organization of which the communicator is part, its vision and mission, its leadership personalities, and much more.

It requires courage to navigate the organization and effect change. When you examine the scope and scale of the opportunity and challenge awaiting the communicator in this new era that Silvia speaks about, it becomes very clear to see that courage really is the requirement of the communicator in the future we talked about.

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