Going for gold: IoIC award winners share their success


Last night saw team Speak head into the City for an evening of talks about gold-standard internal comms, hosted by none other than our own Editorial Director, George. The event, the first of 2014 for the Institute of Internal Communication’s London branch, featured three recent award winners sharing the secrets of their success. Here’s a quick recap of what we heard…

1. Changing (Financial) Times: Bringing one of the world’s oldest newspapers into the digital age


Emily Gibbs was recognised as the IoIC’s Internal Communicator of the Year for her work at the FT, in particular the development of the media group’s ‘Digital Learning Week’ (DLW), an initiative that addressed the rapidly changing nature of news reporting by helping the organisation’s staff around the globe gain new, digital-focused skills and knowledge.

One of the biggest challenges Emily and her team faced when running the first DLW in 2012 was the huge variation in skill-sets from one team member to the next (and from one continent to another), so creating a broad syllabus of available learning events was vital.

The team rose to the challenge and the first DLW, which saw 40 events in seven countries staged over three days, was received extremely well with more than 70% of those who attended saying they had learned something new that they would use in their work in future. Not surprisingly, the FT and its owner Pearson Group seized the opportunity to build on their early success. “We quickly realised the success of [the first year of] Digital Learning week was only the beginning,” said Emily.

Indeed, moving into its second year DLW was even more widely attended with many of the workshops and learning events being recorded so that team-members around the globe had yet more opportunities to develop their digital understanding.

Emily cited several positive  results of DLW including engaged discussions and high attendance figures at the events (in excess of 1,500 people in person) as well as the creation of a new digital editorial blog. Another result of the initiative has been the creation of group of FT ‘social ambassadors’, effectively a group of social media ‘power users’, which the FT uses to disseminate key stories through their own social networks.

Emily’s three takeaways? Internal communications can truly add value to a business, internal communicators must be ready to move with the times and good communication is vital.

2. The Penguin: Connecting with a new breed of project manager


Andrew Hubbard and Peter Doherty (not that one!) of Milton Keynes-based agency Headlines, discussed their successful project The Penguin, a digital magazine/update for young professional project managers.

The Penguin was born when the Association for Project Managers (APM) identified a gap in its current comms output; the organisation’s existing magazine ‘Project’ was a well-established and widely-read brand, but was not reaching newer professionals in the sector. Andrew said: “What ‘Project’ was missing was the younger audience of graduates, entering the world of project management.” It was decided that a new communication was needed, something with a more “irreverent and cheeky” tone that would reel in this up-and-coming demographic.

The process of creating The Penguin was heavily led by testing – perhaps influenced by the iterative, Agile-style approach that we’ve looked at previously. The team drafted more than 70 test articles which they work-shopped with actual project managers, to see what their audience most wanted to read. It quickly transpired that young project management professionals wanted to read more of the irreverent chatty pieces offering a sideways glance at the profession.

Initially launching to the APM’s full membership list, The Penguin soon became popular with project managers outside the UK, with readership of its WordPress site rocketing to 5,000 unique hits in its second year and an extremely healthy open rate of 25% on the update email (well above the industry average).

3. Climbing the career ladder tree


Moira Throp of agency Like Minds and Mark Peters from the Spirit Pub Company worked together on Spirit’s innovative new learning and development platform ‘The Training Tree’, which won IoIC gold in the Best Overall Campaign category.

Faced with a massive employee turnover rate of more than 100% Spirit’s main aim in creating The Training Tree was to engage its employees (or Team Players to borrow the company’s own term) by demonstrating a clear pathway for professional development within the organisation. Spirit achieved this with a multi-channel approach to content creation – putting together information in bite-sized ways that matched the consumption habits of its mobile-ready audience.


As a result of The Training Tree employee turnover has dropped sharply and the number of staff staying on with the company and moving up the career ladder has improved. The site received more than 9,000 views in its first year and given its huge success elements of the campaign have also now become part of Spirit’s external-facing recruitment comms.

Once the presentations were done,  it was time for the attendees to grill the speakers about their projects and try to glean some insights for their own roles.


If you’re interested in attending one of the IoIC’s events please contact George Theohari. Next time the subject under discussion is what internal communicators can learn from content marketing – a topic that’s obviously close to our heart as a creative content agency.

Author: Tom Owen

A strategic storyteller and compelling content creator, awash with acuity and adept at alliteration. I work for Speak Media. www.speakmedia.co.uk

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