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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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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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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Futurecomms15: No need to re-write the book, just get on with it

Katie Marlow recently went to Futurecomms15 and as she works with CIPR Inside to help us communicate what we do, we asked her to share her thoughts on futurecomms. Over to Katie: Thursday 18 June saw the second Futurecomms event, take place in London at the Crystal. It was a bright day. Glimmering in the summer sun, the Crystal overlooks the docks, with cable cars gliding overhead between the Emirates Royal Docks and Emirates Greenwich Peninsular.

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Four years on

Wow, not sure where they went, but the last few years have been a heady mix of my children growing older and starting school, and my new-found independence as a freelance comms professional. August is a special month for me, kids off school, birthdays, wedding anniversary and my business anniversary too. This year, it’s been four years since starting my freelance life and Little Bird Communication. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.

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What’s in a name?

A debate raged on twitter last month about whether internal communication should be called internal PR. Most of the replies were: No, No, No... Everyone hated the idea, were repulsed at the connection to PR, which most consider to be broadcast communication aimed at selling.

Read more about it here from Jenni Wheller, Committee chair for CIPR Inside.

It got me thinking too about how I label my business, what is PR, what is corporate communication, and what is communication. I wonder whether the industry will ever be able to shake its poor reputation. What a thing for the industry that is responsible for preserving and promoting the reputations of big business! Can it solve its own reputation crisis? Who will do the PR for the PRs?

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#thebigyak – my three things

On Saturday 28 June, I joined nearly 150 internal communicators and headed off to #thebigyak organised by The IC crowd, and facilitated by Benjamin Ellis. Yes it was the weekend and yes we all went to this event because we love what we do. You could not find a more motivated bunch of communicators than those willing to take a whole day in a weekend and go off and talk shop. The format of the day was an 'unconference' which puts the agenda in the (hairy) hands of the delegates.

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Three years on

It’s my third anniversary of working for myself this August. It’s been an exciting time and I’ve learned a lot freelancing from my home office in Bournemouth. I posted a while ago about three little things that stood out for me from 2012. They were: Trusting your instinct, Getting the balance right and Taking satisfaction and rewarding yourself for a job well done.

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Did it work?

When I last posted, I had about three posts on the go. This is one of those posts, all of which got totally derailed by lots of exciting work. So, at last here's a quick and simple run down of why you should measure and a list of useful metrics to help measure communication results on a budget. It is always good to know where you are heading. Even if you decide to change direction, at least if you have a strategy, you can adapt your plan to suit your aim.

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What is a communication strategy?

So often we can get caught up writing the editorial, tweeting, designing websites, creating events or any one of the miriad of tactics available to a communication professional, we can forget the importance of a sound and effective communication strategy. I’ve had a few conversations recently with other communication professionals about strategies and plans so I’ve put my thoughts together here.

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