PRide awards 2017

I'm very pleased to have won a Silver PRide award on 17 November 2017. The category was Outstanding Independent Practitioner, within my CIPR region, the South of England and Channel Islands. I've never entered awards as an independent consultant before. I knew it was about time I did. After all,…

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smileexpo 17 – my notes

Last Tuesday saw the latest smileexpo event in London (23 May 17) and I was lucky enough to attend. As ever it was a packed agenda, with over 100 people in attendance to chat with too. Here are some of my notes from the day.

Setting the scene

Consider this – when did you last email a friend? And yet at work we still rely heavily on email. But it is often over used and becomes a burden stopping us from working to our most effective. Then consider this - 50% of the work force will comprise millennials by 2020. So business has to get ready for this – it’s only three years away and if we aren’t using email in our personal lives millennials certainly aren’t.

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Millennials and your business

I was born to boomers, I’m a mother to centennials and a generation X myself. When you consider that our sense of ‘purpose’ is defined by the time we are 13, it’s no wonder we all find it hard to understand each other’s viewpoints at times. Just think about being 13 in the 1950s, 1980s, 2000s and 2020 and beyond for a minute… The contrast is huge, with different experiences, technologies and work. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to ‘Simon Sinek in conversation with Reggie Yates’. They discussed purpose, millennials in the workplace and some of the criticisms following that now infamous video.

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Fear and the damage it causes

Every day people go to work. They turn up, they do what they feel they should do, but not always what they could do. They follow the rules, occasionally with good results, sometimes with OK outcomes, other times with poor or even damaging results. Fear can be at the centre of this, unknowingly to us, it holds us back every day from doing things. Some recent examples of how fear manifests itself in work.

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Love learning all about communication and engagement?

While writing a blog about continuing professional development (CPD) and professional memberships for communicators this week I had a small revelation about myself. Not only do I love learning, but I actually ‘need’ to keep learning. I don’t mean ‘need’ to with regard to keeping my communication expertise and knowledge up to date, that’s a given. What I mean is, I realised I’m happiest when I am learning something new. Working independently in communication allows me to learn in two fundamental ways:

One

I take charge, fund and make my own time for my learning and development by working independently. I go to the events I want to attend, read up on the topics I want to learn, join webinars and more as my schedule allows to develop my knowledge and skills (which of course my clients benefit from too).

Two

Because I get to research, analyse and understand my clients’ businesses in a deep way I’m always learning something new about the businesses I work with and finding solutions to their challenges. Good communicators spend time learning about the business strategy, stakeholders, culture and purpose. This is essential to help clients and employers to communicate and listen effectively to be more successful and I really enjoy this process.

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Getting Chartered

At the end of January I put myself through a rigorous Chartered Assessment day. No one made me do it. No one paid for me to do it. I did it for myself to prove something to myself.

What is it?

The CIPR is the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. As a Chartered body it can reward members with Chartered status when they prove they have reached a senior level of professionalism in their work. Just as accountants, surveyors, engineers and many other professions have Chartered assessments to demonstrate their ability and commitment to their professions. For years, getting Chartered with CIPR involved researching and writing an academic paper then presenting it to a panel of senior professionals. It was difficult and a little off-putting for many. So the CIPR reviewed its approach and designed an assessment that was still professionally rigorous but more accessible to everyone, no matter what their route to working in PR and communication. The new Chartered process started in September 2015 with the first cohort of eight successfully passing the assessment in November that year. There are currently 168 Chartered Practitioners of the 10,000+ CIPR members.

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Little Bird is branching out

It’s been over six years since I started my comms consultancy. And for much of that time I’ve been working with CIPR Inside providing communication consultancy, running the #insidestory awards and continually reviewing and evolving the awards since we launched them in 2012. On Monday 16 Jan '17 we held a brilliant judging day as part of the fifth #insidestory awards.  I loved meeting the entrants and judges and hearing their stories. Everyone enjoyed the day. But now it’s time for me to branch out more with my business. So that judging day was my last task to support the group. The committee are all set for the party when the big news of who wins will be announced. I’m coming too. Just try and stop me going to the zoo!!!

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#my3words – human

Human is the last of my three words to cover in this series of blogs. It's much later than I planned. I've been busy learning some new skills and also engrossed with the #insidestory awards judging and shortlisting. So here now, is the third and final instalment of #mythreewords. We're human, of course, but often in business we can sometimes 'forget' to be ourselves and show our 'human' side at work. That's why this is an important word to guide my business strategy and the year ahead. Like voice and moment, human also has many interpretations for me in my work and personal life.

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#my3words – Moment

Yesterday I wrote about #my3words. I've chosen these words to guide me for the year ahead and beyond. New Year's resolutions are made with great intentions, then often discarded by the end of Jan because they are too complex, fail to engage or are too vague (be fitter, healthier, get a better job etc...). So when Chris Brogan's email landed in my inbox in the new year and he talked about his approach of using three words to guide the year, it made good sense to me. I figure if it's worked for him for the past 11 years, it's got to be worth trying it out for myself...   My three words are: Voice, Moment and Human. Each has a multi-faceted meaning across my personal and professional life. Yesterday I explained my rationale for Voice - which is a big one for me. Today I'll explain Moment.

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#my3words – Voice

Each new year brings a chance to review, refresh and re-direct your business and your profession.   At new year Chris Brogan, CEO of The Media Group invites you to set yourself three words to guide your success for the year ahead. I subscribe to his emails. It's one of a handful of subscriptions that I enjoy and read. I like Chris's approach to business and his writing style. After a busy 2016 building my business, growing my network, learning and delivering a host of projects with a range of clients, I wanted to start 2017 with a renewed focus. When Chris's #my3words email landed in my inbox, the timing was spot on. I chose #my3words for 2017 without hesitation. In no particular order, they are:

Voice

Moment

Human

These words are important to me and I've chosen them because they each have multi-faceted meanings and influences for me in both my professional and personal goals for 2017 and beyond. I'll explain why I've chosen each word in turn this week, starting with voice here.

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What can we learn from a tech start up about being a social business?

Rarely Impossible is a Mobile app development studio based in Bournemouth. I have met Lee Mallon, the MD at different events like Silicon Beach and most recently All About People in June 2016. Lee has a great approach to business and is never afraid to try something new. Rarely Impossible is a very social business, with an open culture. Lee takes inspiration from other successful businesses he’s learned about on his travels. We have great conversations about work and people doing their work over coffee at these events. Lee’s most recently featured on BBC Radio 4 and BBC South Today where his approach to work email has been the focus – he’s banned it internally. Lee’s business is a technical partner, solving clients’ problems with digital solutions. Currently there are 11 people in the team and they are tech savvy and creative group. And it’s easy to say “Well that’s why he could do it”. And yes, you would be right. But it’s his wider approach to his business that I believe means that even as it grows, he’ll keep a cap on email and make its use the exception rather than the norm. So I went to meet him to find out more. We hoped to natter over coffee in the rooftop garden on the building he shares with a group of other small businesses. We got rained off and headed to the high-gloss ‘boardroom’ shared by all the businesses in the building. What a difference a space makes. Immediately you can feel the change in the way you connect in a different location. Lee is definitely more at home in the relaxed astro-turfed roof garden.

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All About People – my top 19 tips from two days

Last week I spent two-day s in the company of some amazing people and heard some brilliant talks at the second All About People conference. The event is for anyone interested or working in the fields of HR, workplaces or communication that have an impact on how people work. I left with my head buzzing with new and inspiring ideas from the many conversations I had. I listened to 12 different speakers over the two days. They covered a range of topics and real life case studies about work, people at work and making work better for people.

I am inspired!

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It’s much less scary when it’s not so big and hairy!!!

Last week was busy. On Monday I focused on my business development. I spent Tuesday planning client projects. Wednesday and Thursday were spent at the second All About People two-day conference. (It was a great couple of days, and I'll write something about that once it's all settled in my head). On Friday, I met up with various people who I've enlisted to help me with a new project. It's a teaching project and it takes me completely out of my comfort zone. I've never taught before. And that's what brings me to this blog post.

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Half term. Half work. Half play.

Working for yourself brings a host of benefits, but for me one of the biggest is freedom. Freedom to work around my client and family needs; freedom to direct the shape of my business; freedom to choose my own development path; freedom to be myself and do the work I love. Most of the time, this works beautifully. But Half term school holidays always seem to present a challenge.

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CPD – Why bother and my top tips for pain-free CPD

Excuse me while I crow, just a little. In the last week I have completed my CPD points already this year (this is not my usual form for getting my CPD done). Nine months before the deadline at the end of Feb 2017. I have logged enough points on the CIPR UK CPD system to maintain my accredited status for another year. There we go, I've said it, no more boasting.

But who cares?

Well you may not, but I do. And here's why doing my CPD is important to me.

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Be human

I recently attended a Once Upon a Time event in Bournemouth. It’s always a good event, held in the beautiful Shelley theatre (once home to Mary Shelley) and organised by the indomitable duo of Mark Masters and Matt Desmier. Between them their contact list must be among the best and longest in the land of digital creatives, communicators (of all breeds) and entrepreneurs. At this latest event we heard from four great speakers which I wrote about last week. One stood out for me for his enthusiasm and energy, and his authenticity and humanity. The person he was on stage, was the person I imagined he’d be before I heard him speak, and when I met him a week later for a coffee and to find out more, he was exactly the same.

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