https://youtu.be/kIBGijnsDBQ

Why The Best World Leaders are Communicators with Helen Deverell, MCIPR

Summary

In this episode, we had award-winning internal communications consultant Helen Deverell on the show, chatting to us about how great world leaders and communicators have won the hearts and minds of citizens of in places like New Zealand and British Columbia, in the fight against COVID-19. And we also chatted about how to keep big projects moving through all of the challenges of 2020. 

Resources

Jacinda’s communication masterclass
Building trust in an era of fake news
HelenDeverellCommunications.com
Content Planning Template

Transcript

Kyla:

Good morning and welcome. I’m Kyla Sims.

Adam:

And I’m Adam Bradford, and you’re watching the Bananatag Morning Show. It’s the number one live show for Internal Comms pros. And also the only one.

Kyla:

It’s the only one, but depending on where you’re tuning in from, it might not be your morning. It might be your lunch hour, it might be your happy hour. Regardless, we’re here to talk to Internal Communicators from around the world about what it’s like, communicating during 2020. Yep. All of the bells and whistles that come with that, all of the struggles, all of the wins, and hopefully connecting with you all in the chat as well.

Adam:

That’s right. And meanwhile, and get ready for a good one, because we’re joined by Helen Deverell, and stay tuned right to the end of the episode, because we’ll have a special announcement as well. On Fridays, we talk to British people, as we’ve said before, it’s not on purpose. There’s so many smart people over in the UK, and so we’re glad to be joined by Helen. Helen is an award winning consultant, helping organizations listen to their employees and understand how they can improve, internal communication through audits, strategies, workshops, change programs, content creation, amazing content, and internal campaigns. She was the vice chair of the CIP, our inside committee in 2018 to ’19, and a key contributor to two research reports, as well as a guide to ethical internal communication, very timely topic right now. Currently she sits in the Institute of Internal Communication PD advisory board, and helps to organize their annual conference. And if that’s not enough, in 2018, she was announced as a Fellow of the Institute of internal Communication, amazing. Today, she joins us from her home in Redding, near London, UK, please welcome Helen. Deverell.

Helen:

Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Adam:

Well, we’re excited as well. A little birdie tells us that you’re, very pregnant, and due very soon.

Helen:

That is true, I’m squeezing you in just before, I have my baby next week, yes. Hopefully there won’t be any, incidents on the call. It’s just sore, right here.

Kyla:

I mean, it would be very exciting for us.

Helen:

It would be a first, I imagine.

Adam:

Waiting for it to [inaudible 00:02:23].

Helen:

Yeah, exactly.

Kyla:

Oh well, that’s great. We’re really grateful that you were able to, make time for us. Obviously you’ve got a lot of things going on, but before we get started, we got to know, what’s in your cup.

Helen:

Wow. Obviously being a Friday afternoon, and I’m not drinking alcohol at the minute, but I want it to be fancy. So I’ve got a raspberry lemonade, complete with [crosstalk 00:02:48] in there as well.

Kyla:

Beautiful.

Adam:

Yes, very nice.

Kyla:

Oh my goodness. I’m jealous. I’m going to get my coffee, because my hot brown doesn’t really measure up. Although Helen, today we’re going to be chatting about, leaders whose communication style has captured the hearts, and minds of citizens, fighting against COVID-19. Including one of our favorites, former communicator, turned Prime Minister, of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. And if that wasn’t enough, we’re also going to talk about, how to keep big projects moving during COVID-19 because, the world has not stopped. It just kept going. So before we jump into all of that, we’re going to get to know you just a little bit better.

Adam:

That’s right. It’s our favorite segment, and our guests least favorite segment where we put them on the spot, and ask them a bunch of questions, some of them silly, some of them serious to get to know them a little bit better. It’s what we call, Getting To Know You. So, it’s pretty simple. You got 30 seconds on the clock. We will pepper you with questions, Helen. And all you got to do is say the first thing that comes to mind. Sound good?

Helen:

Sounds okay.

Kyla:

[crosstalk 00:04:04] You’ll be fine. I promise.

Adam:

All right. Let’s jump in, first one, easy. Where were you born?

Helen:

England. Bedfordshire.

Kyla:

Cats or dogs?

Helen:

Oh, dogs. I have a dog. So definitely dog.

Adam:

Oh, you can still be on. What’s the last TV show you binged?

Helen:

Big Little Lies, loved it.

Kyla:

Ooh, I got to get into that one. Have you seen it Adam?

Adam:

Yeah, oh my gosh. And Meryl Streep is amazing. They all are, but she makes you just hate her. It’s so good.

Helen:

It really is.

Kyla:

Speaking of celebrities, if you could be quarantined with any celebrity, who would it be?

Helen:

I saw you’d asked other people, so I’ve been thinking about it in case you ask. I think it would have to be a comedian of some kind. You’ve got to keep laughing. So probably someone like Melissa McCarthy or Catherine Ryan. I think, women like that who are, very funny and keep your spirits up.

Adam:

I love that. What is the best dinosaur? Very serious question.

Helen:

Oh, triceratops. I’ve always liked the triceratops. [crosstalk 00:05:15].

Kyla:

It’s just the confidence the people have about their favorite dinosaurs, it’s amazing. And final question, what has been your weirdest pregnancy craving?

Helen:

Oh, I’ve not really actually had any, that’s the sad thing about it. I’ve not had to send my husband out for gherkins at midnight, or anything like that, so sorry, disappointing, but no real cravings.

Kyla:

Is that so?

Adam:

Well, thank you for being a great sport Helen, that was great. So let’s jump into our questions. Everyone is tuned in to hear you today, and based on what we’ve chatted about before today, you will not disappoint. First let’s go back in time for a quick minute. You are a consultant who, it’s before COVID, and you’ve got client work lined up for the next month, and then COVID hits what happens?

Helen:

For me, I had exactly that, I had work lined up for the next few months. I was about to start on a big program, and when the locked down in the UK got announced, it all went overnight. There was no longer either, the capacity to give to that work, or they had to, put that energy elsewhere, or again, the budgets were cut on that. So I suddenly found myself looking at nothing for the next few months. Obviously ahead of the maternity leave, so it was quite daunting. I was really lucky that I did pick up some of the work. So I did have work for the last 10 weeks, which was a nice big program of work that I got to do. But I don’t think everyone else, was necessarily that lucky. So I think for consultants, it’s been a really tricky time.

Helen:

Obviously it’s been hard for everyone and in multiple ways, but from a consultant point of view, I think so many Internal Communicators had to, look inwards, focus on their organizations. There wasn’t time to brief consultants to bring people in. Things were changing by the minute. A lot of planned programs just had to go out the window, which is completely understandable, but left a lot of people that work in the way that I do, a bit unsure of what their future was going to look like. And I think, probably there’s still a lot of uncertainty about what that future will look like, and what our role will be, going forward, and as this progresses.

Adam:

It’s such a tough spot, because it’s a time more than ever that, great Internal Comms support, and direction, and advice is needed in organizations. And yet, so many organs in these organizations seem to have been caught in a place where, they’re just trying to keep up, and have difficulty bringing people on for that work. So, I feel for everyone who’s in that position.

Helen:

Absolutely. I think that’s really true, there’s been some fantastic work going on, in organizations. And I’m sure as well, like say, consultants could certainly contribute a lot to that, but it’s just not always been possible for the various circumstances. But hopefully, that will start to change as we get towards our new normal, I suppose, if we can ever find a new normal.

Kyla:

Yeah. Right. That new normal, it’s going to look… We don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like, but it’s still, for at least a little while, it’s going to look like balancing all of these COVID crisis Comms, and then ramping up other projects that have been, sitting on the sidelines, but still need to happen. There are a lot of those projects still going on. Like you said, you were working on one the last couple of weeks. What advice do you have for communicators that are trying to balance, all of this uncertainty, but also have all of these other programs that still need to happen?

Helen:

I think it’s a really interesting point. And I blogged about it recently, for Alive With Ideas, because I think, we are at that point now where the initial, crisis bit has passed, and we are recognizing this isn’t going to go away. But as you say, there’s still a lot of projects that have to carry on that, some of them were huge projects that people were working on that can’t just go away, they’re integral to the business. And so how do you balance that? And I think that, a lot of it is around remembering that COVID will have impacted it, and we need to acknowledge that, understand how we need to adapt, and recognize that, those projects may need to change, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still go ahead. So looking at, the ways people are working, what does that mean for your project?

Helen:

How can we communicate that element of it? What does that mean? What impact will it have? People will want to understand. And in some cases, I suppose, it doesn’t even need to go ahead of it? If one of your big projects is about moving to a completely new office, and now you’re potentially going to have everyone remote working in the future, then that might not be required. So it’s really trying to understand, the impact COVID will have, and recognizing that at some point we do need to get back to, the way we were. And that actually, probably a lot of those messages will sit side by side.

Helen:

You can’t often communicate anymore about, some of these things without even mentioning COVID at all. And I think, the other thing that is worth remembering with all the COVID stuff, is that it’s actually given a really good opportunity, to remind people that they can change, and that, how well everyone has adapted. A couple of months ago, if you’d said that most of the world’s businesses would be remote working where possible, and everyone would be set up with the right tech, and they’d be, working that way for months on end, no one would have believed it, but we’ve managed it and we’ve done it in a lot of cases very successfully.

Helen:

So I think it’s also a really good story to tell your employees that “Yes, we are changing. These change programs were always going to happen, we’re going to continue. But the good news is we know we can change. We know we can adapt. We’ve done it, we’ve done it very quickly, and we’ve done it successfully. And I think that’s a real, positive to come out of it.

Adam:

If anything, can be taken, from working as a communicator through COVID-19, it’s how much we can accomplish, in a short amount of time, when we have focus. It’s that, that hopefully we can bring into, the change work that we do in our organizations. I think it’s easy to burn out, in a situation like this, but you also can accomplish a lot pretty quickly.

Helen:

Absolutely, yeah. And that is really important as well, is looking after your own mental health, as communicators, we’ve been incredibly busy the last few months, and that’s really important too. As we get back into doing some of the other projects, it is making sure that we’re still taking our holidays, even if we’re not going actually going anywhere anymore. Making sure that, we are taking care of ourselves, all that type of thing, is still just as important.

Adam:

Kyla and I just took, five, six day, at home vacations where we didn’t really do anything. I really appreciated it, it was nice to turn off my brain.

Helen:

Just sleep, probably.

Adam:

Oh my gosh, yes.

Kyla:

I think that’s mostly all I did was sleep.

Adam:

Well, speaking of mental health, our getting to know you conversation turned into some very good, recommendations in the chats. Erica recommends the amazing Canadian television show, Schitt’s Creek. We all-

Kyla:

It’s amazing. I love Schitt’s Creek so much.

Adam:

It’s amazing. Emily from our team, also recommends it. We also have Gabriel, Moira Rose, is the spirit animal, I never knew [inaudible 00:12:32]. So keep those comments coming. And if you have any questions for Helen, let us know. Okay, so we’re going to shift gears for a moment. You regularly blog on your own website, which we’re going to share in the chat, now. Thank you, Emily. But you also are a guest blogger, every month, on the Alive With Ideas blog.

Adam:

And one of the pieces that you recently wrote was, just in this communication masterclass, pointing towards the lessons we can take from New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who we know and love. A communicator.

Kyla:

What a dream though.

Adam:

Oh my goodness. Now, of course the Kiwis have been particularly successful in flattening their COVID-19 curve, partly because of their PM’s ability is sell the public, on pretty strict, restrictions to limit the spread of the virus. So maybe you can talk to us a little bit, based on, that blog piece, about the lessons that we can take from this former communicator gone politician.

Helen:

And I love that she’s a communicator, and that’s so rare, I think in politicians that you come from that background, and I think it’s really come across in the way she’s dealt with this, how important that is. And I think while a lot of what New Zealand have done, obviously there are, other elements that they’re a smaller country, they’ve got less people more spread out. There’s all that to take to account, but I don’t think you can take away from how fantastic her communication has been. And I think, much of that has come, from various elements of what she’s done. So the clarity of the messaging that she gave. She, very early on was very clear about a staging process that she was going to have. So people could clearly see, looking ahead, this is what will happen if this happens at this point, this is why, and this is what we’ll do.

Helen:

And it was kept very simple, very clear. There was no jargon, there was no uncertainty or ambiguity. She was just very clear, and kept that to the point and succinct. And I think she also provided examples as well, that was really important. She was able to bring it to life much more, which then also tied into, she kept showing the why. And I think that showing the why is so important. Why are we doing this now? Why are we going hard early? And a lot of countries didn’t necessarily always back that up. That why, or there was ambiguity, but she was very clear, “This is why we’re going to do this.” And then if it was very specific things, she would explain, such as closing children’s playgrounds, she would explain, why that is. That virus lingers on surfaces for longer, things like that.

Helen:

So she, wasn’t just saying, “That’s what we’re doing, that’s it.” There was always the explanation. And then I think underlying all of that, was her empathy, and her relate-ability as a leader. So she, did talk about her own situation. She likes taking her daughter to the park, and she’s disappointed as well. She put herself in that position. And she also did things like, Facebook Lives from her bedroom, after putting her daughter to bed. You don’t often see world leaders doing that. And it made her feel very relatable, very trustworthy. She took questions live on that as well, and responded to New Zealanders, questions, and none of it was scripted. I think it really created a sense of trust in her, and what her messaging was. And they didn’t get absolutely everything right, but I think in these unprecedented times, not everyone was going to. But, I think she threw that relate-ability that empathy, that clarity, she did a really good job at building trust, and helping people understand why they needed to follow those rules, and it worked.

Adam:

The vulnerability there of the Facebook Live, after putting your kids to bed, and especially in a position where, you don’t know if the actions that you’re taking are going to work. Can you even imagine the pressure, of being a world leader, especially one, who really cares, and is trying to do things right.

Kyla:

One of those [inaudible 00:16:40].

Adam:

Saying anything there, but it’s just very interesting, a lot to take from that. That’s a great, great blog. If you haven’t read it yet, we’ll share it in the chat.

Kyla:

And there’s also, more examples of leaders that we can look to, in this moment, who’ve done a really incredible job. We’re really proud here in BC, Canada of our Chief Health Officer, Dr Bonnie Henry, who’s been leading our COVID response. We were actually expected, BC is at this crux between, the US and Asia, where we were expected to really just get hit, super hard by COVID. And, our response had been very, very successful. Obviously, there were still mistakes made as well, but we definitely did flatten the curve. And in fact, she was actually featured by the New York times and CNN, for her messaging, and I know we’ve talked about it here a lot, about how she in herself is also a masterclass in communication.

Kyla:

Obviously she was a health professional first, but she does conduct herself as a communicator. And the things that she did to, actually make people feel, like they understood what was going on, she explained everything. There was no fear-mongering, there was none of that. And the way that her mantra, I think it was, “Be calm, be kind, and be safe.” And just that simple turn of phrase, just repeated over and over again, people really took it to heart. And I think it definitely is to credit to BC. And of course also where you are. Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

Helen:

It’s just that, I read up about her after you mentioned her, and I was really impressed with her. I was reading, I think that’s the New York Times that was quoting, and that she also, wasn’t afraid to be emotional when giving press conferences, and apparently she got quite teary about talking about when, the vice did get into care homes, things like that. I think, again, we’re not used to seeing leaders be vulnerable, but it’s so important that we do see that, human side of them.

Kyla:

It’s interesting, I read something about, she actually worked, on Ebola cases as well, a number of years ago. And it’s interesting, for someone, you see her, and she gives off this image of this very quiet, soft, feminine, but she’s just the biggest bad-ass ever. Just running into the fire, saving lives, getting stuff done. It’s pretty amazing. But closer to where you are, one of the issues that, the UK, and also the US and other places are facing, is getting the public to wear masks. So this, it seems to be an issue of communication on a lot of levels. Talk to us a bit about winning that public confidence through communication, in an age where, we know for a fact that people trust their employers, generally more than they trust their governments.

Helen:

And I think it’s really interesting, because this has all happened again against this backdrop of fake news. And there’s so much out there that, isn’t true. And example I spoke about with you is, I was sent recently by a friend, and I was caught by how, if you leave your hand sanitizer in your car, it can explode, which is completely untrue. But people really believe this. And it keeps getting shared, yet people won’t wear face masks, even though it was said to wear them. And it’s really interesting what people will believe, and what they won’t. And I think as we return to workplaces, it’s so important that people do follow, the guidelines we give, and a huge amount of work is going into setting our workplaces up to be safe places. But it does rely on people following the right behaviors, which relies on good communication.

Helen:

And how do you create that trust around it? And I think you’re right, the Edelman, report in March found that, people were trusting their employers more so than government. I think that there’s a lot, that could be unpicked there, about whether people are walking the walk, leadership, about some of the clarity of messaging, and trust. I think trust has to be built up over time. So I think when people are returning to their workplaces, we need to create these single sources of truth that people can trust is the right information, it’s accurate. But you can’t just create one of those, you have to have been building up trust in the lead up to this. People have to believe that what they will see from you, is going to be genuine, it’s going to be in their best interest. They need to, again, come back to the why. They need to understand why they have to do things the way they are, why these certain measures have been put in place.

Helen:

Because some of it may not be immediately obvious. Some of it may be because people have to work in certain ways to do their jobs. Therefore we’ve done that this way for these people, for these people it may be something different. But that’s not obvious to everyone. So we need to make sure that we’re always reinforcing, why we’ve made those decisions. And really make sure leaders are doing, what we’re asking everyone else to be doing as well. If we’re saying you have to do this in your office, or you have to wear a mask when you’re in a certain area, then leaders need to be seen to be doing the same thing as well. I think that’s where we’ve fallen down a little bit with some of the government guidance, lack of clarity, lack of trust, and lack of setting that example.

Adam:

Absolutely. We have a question from the audience and this may be a good one for you. If not, it’s one that we can chat about in Comms and Unity, our Slack space. So Jenna says, oh, that doesn’t show up on screen very well, does it? “Helen, have you ever consulted for any Internal Comms teams for healthcare, organizations or hospitals? Any bits of advice based on what you may have seen with common pitfalls in healthcare, or hospital communications?

Helen:

That’s a good question. I have done Internal Comms audits for, hospital trusts in the UK. I think one of the things that often, is communication between departments, and things like that, and ensuring there’s a consistency of message often. And I don’t know how that works in North America, but here, I think sometimes we can work a bit siloed, there so many trusts within the NHS, and different departments. So I think, another key part of building this trust in some of this return to work messaging, is around, making sure that we are being consistent, and that when we are communicating something from the top, that line managers, different departments, everyone is receiving that same message.

Helen:

And I think that can sometimes be a bit difficult, within some of the healthcare. And obviously it’s messages do have to be tailored. They have to be tweaked for them be suitable for their own audience, but there should be some underlying key messages that are constantly reinforced. And I’m sure in your Slack group, there’ll be plenty of other examples people can share, but I think that would be one that immediately came to mind, is the need for that consistency across, sometimes very complex setups within healthcare sectors.

Adam:

Absolutely. And Rachel Miller, a good friend of ours, has “Couldn’t agree more with Helen, having a single source of truth and ability for employees and leaders to check, for understanding, is critical.” Now we’re down to our last five minutes with you. This always happens, it goes very fast. And what that means is, Oh, can I make this happen? I can. It’s time for our tool tip of the day. Helen, why don’t you walk us through the resource that you have shared with us today.

Helen:

Okay. So my tool of the day, it’s my content planning template. I do, do a lot of content creation for companies. And I often find that planning is often the forgotten elements with content. So I created a template, which is ultimately a list of questions to help you think through, either the content you’re creating, to discuss with people in your organization, to work together on it, or to send out for other people to fill in. So it centers around a lot of the W questions, who is this for? Why are you doing it? What do you want people to think, feel, do. All those sorts of things. But it captures it all in one document, and it’s then really useful to have that record because, when you then get to the other end of your content, you’ve created it, makes your sign off process a lot easier.

Helen:

If you’ve all agreed what this needed to be, there could be no disagreement on what it’s ended up as. This is what we agreed in the brief. It also helps with the editing as well, because if you’re getting it edited by someone who hasn’t been involved, they can check it against the brief. Has it met the expectations? Have we done what we set out to do? So it helps with multiple steps throughout the content process. So yeah, that’s the template I’ve created, and very happy for you, to share that with people, if they would like a copy.

Adam:

Our team is taking a look at it, and I think we’ll be using it soon. It’s fantastic. If you can’t do, without it, let us know, give us your email on the chat. Failing that, Helen will be putting it on her website, soon. So definitely check back, to that website soon as well. Okay, so we’re down to our last few minutes, and we’ve got big news folks. Next Friday, [inaudible 00:25:34], is going to be the grand finale, of season one, of the Bananatag Morning Show, Kayla, how did we get here so fast?

Kyla:

I don’t know.

Adam:

We’ve had 31 episodes, many of the great minds in Internal Comms from around the world, including Helen today. We’ve been so lucky. You won’t want to miss this last show, tune in next Friday, we’ve got some extra special content, for you that we’ve been planning, and we’re pretty excited.

Kyla:

Yeah. And of course, if you’re a communicator who’s sending employee emails, and you want to collect some sweet, sweet data, so that you can show leadership the power of the communications that you’re sending, we’ve got a link in the description here where you can book a demo, with one of our friendly Banana fam, and they can show you, all the ways, cool communicators like you, are using Bananatag to, prove the value of Internal Comms in their organization, get realtime feedback from employees, and just create better looking, beautiful employee emails. You’ve been great, Helen, thank you so much for coming on, especially with, you’re a little busy, there’s probably, a lot on your mind. We’re really glad to catch you, before you go, do you have any final words for our audience?

Helen:

Well, firstly, thank you very much for having me on, and to the audience, I would say well done to everyone, for the last few months. I think Internal Communicators have just stepped up to the plate, and done a phenomenal job in really challenging circumstances. I’ve just been an awe, of what’s been happening. So yeah, I just would say, well done and just be really proud of ourselves really.

Kyla:

That’s great. Yes, be proud of yourself, we’ve come so far, it’s hard to believe that it’s already been, what four or five months, of all of this. And we’re still keeping on, keeping on. So, good job everybody, we’ll see you here next week. Thank you again, Helen. Thank you all for being in our chat, your comments, your questions, always a pleasure, and we’ll catch you next time. All right, bye.

Adam:

Really enjoying some of these puns before we go off. So sad to see Banana take Morning Show split. Bananatag is so, appealing, their the best bunch. Well done, well done folks, communicators.

Kyla:

Wow. Wow.

Adam:

And cut.

Building Community in the Workplace with Abby Guthkelch

Summary

In this episode, we had Dr. Abby Guthkelch, Global Communications Solutions Lead at Workplace from Facebook on the show to talk about the power of creating a thriving community at work, what that looks like in practice, and how to use community to cultivate company culture in a remote-working world.

Resources

Unsplash
Canva

Transcript

Kyla:

Good morning and welcome. I’m Kyla Sims.

Adam:

And I’m Adam Rayford and I’ve forgotten how to unmute myself. And you’re watching the Bananatag Morning Show.

Kyla:

But depending on where you’re tuning in from, this might not be your morning, it might be your happy hour, it might be your lunch, but regardless you’ll find us here Wednesdays and Fridays talking to communicators from around the world about what it’s like communicating during all of this. We’ll be getting them to share tips and tricks and hopefully connecting with you in the audience as well.

Adam:

Absolutely. Now we see a number of you in the audience. Hello. Hi Erica, Panacky, Casriona, Laura. Great to see you. Thanks for saying hi. And for the rest of you who are watching, say hi as well. And meanwhile, let’s get to know our amazing, amazing guest today. We’re joined by Abby Guthkelch. As GlobalCom Solutions lead, Abby Guthkelch is the Comms industry expert for Workplace from Facebook and their team globally. Her focus is on advising their high value customers on Comms best practice, trends and thought leadership, as well as working closely with their engineering and product management teams, specifically with their Comms customers in mind, cannot speak today. She also leads workplaces connected to the executive program, providing leadership engagement, coaching C-suite leaders and senior Comms teams to counsel them. Before Workplace, Abby held a number of senior level Comms and marketing roles, both on the in-house and agency side, most recently as the global head of social media engagement at HSBC, an Omnicom Agency, Ketchum’s UK Head of Digital.

Adam:

All of these amazing positions. Gosh, this makes me feel unaccomplished. Abby has over 16 years experience as a multi-industry, multichannel content strategist and was ranked among the top 25 marketing innovators in Europe, Middle East and Africa in 2017. Outside of work, Abby is an avid traveler and photographer, and has just visited her 46th country before all of the COVID stuff happened and is planning 47 and 48. Now, today she joins us from our home in London, UK. Please welcome, Abby Guthkelch.

Abby:

Thank you so much, Adam. Hi, Kyla. It’s so good to be here with you both. And I’m so happy, it’s not just me that forgets to hit mute.

Adam:

Only when it’s a live broadcast, right?

Abby:

I mean, it’s the best way to be, right?

Adam:

Goodness. So you and I met when you were keynoting at the IABC Virtual World Conference and I was emceeing. You did an amazing keynote. How was that kind of virtual conference experience for you? You must be doing a lot of that.

Abby:

Yeah. It’s firstly, the IABC World Conference is always such a great event. And I was so looking forward to being in Chicago for it. I think we said at the time, wouldn’t it be nice to sort of kick back after the keynote? Well probably not immediately after the keynote, as it was first thing in the morning with a glass of Rose and just catch up with what everyone’s seeing, but I thought they did a fantastic job in terms of pivoting it to a virtual environment. And yeah, you guys did great as the emcees.

Abby:

But yeah, my life is spent on video calls and webinars and in fact, I did a look back over the last half and really sort of the last quarter of being in lock down. I think I’m entering my 16th week of being in lockdown in my apartment in London. And I think I’ve done live webinars or keynotes to about seven and a half thousand people over sort of seven week periods. And I was like, “Yeah, you really feel it. You do get the fatigue at the end of it.” And I’m also very used to looking at myself now in the computer, which is not something I’d have really appreciated. I don’t really appreciate it now, but I’ve got used to it.

Adam:

I never considered Botox before all of these Zooms, but now I think it could be really nice. But speaking of not Botox and simpler things, as we understand it, there’s been a couple of recent developments in the UK that have maybe made online life a little easier, more enjoyable.

Abby:

Yeah. Without a doubt. So for any of your listeners, attendees joining from the US, sassy the 4th of July, obviously Independence Day, Britain or the UK got our hairdressers back, hope you’re appreciating my new haircut, because I’ve been having my hair tied back for the last, as I said, so many weeks and also pubs and restaurants opened again, obviously with social distancing, but I got to have my first meal out last night and it really did give me a whole new lease of life and ability just to have someone else pour you a glass of wine and cook for you. It’s just joyous.

Adam:

Yeah. A little taste of normalcy.

Kyla:

It’s amazing how much we appreciate those little things now. Speaking of pubs and drinks, why don’t we talk about what you’ve got going on in your cup this morning?

Abby:

Yeah. So my cup, it does look like I have alcohol because it is gin brand, but it’s actually just some water because it’s five p.m. obviously in London. And if I have caffeine at this time of the night, I will never go to sleep. So I am definitely on the water for now. The gin will come after my next few meetings are over.

Kyla:

That’s great. And we have some comments in the chat here. Candice says, “Wow, what an impressive resume.” Couldn’t agree more. You’re intimidating everybody out there. And then Laura Richard says, “Quarantine hair is real. So feeling your pain, definitely.” That’s great. So today we’re going to be chatting a little bit about the power of community at work. But before we jump into that, let’s get to know you just a little bit better.

Adam:

That’s right, and what a fun new graphic we have. We’re very proud of it [crosstalk 00:06:35]

Abby:

You’ve got the reaction emoji, the liking, the heart. I love it. It’s very Facebook. Well done.

Adam:

It’s very Facebook, very Banatag, it’s just all work. Okay. So the way this works, we got 30 seconds on the clock and we’re going to pepper you with a bunch of questions. And all you have to do is just say the first crazy thing that comes to your mind. Sound good?

Abby:

Perfect, could go horribly wrong, but go for it.

Adam:

All right. Let’s dive in. First question. How many hours did you sleep last night?

Abby:

Four and a half, which is normal.

Kyla:

What’s your favorite snack?

Abby:

My favorite snack, crisps, chips for you guys.

Adam:

Okay. This is a good one. What’s your favorite time zone? You work in a lot of them.

Abby:

I love them all. I love traveling, as you know, for 46 countries, but I’m going to go a bit round and I’m going to go Australia because why not, Sydney is just fabulous. And I love being there. And ahead of time, in the future.

Adam:

We get lucky. Whenever we get to have them on the show, we prerecord it and we love it. Oh, it’s over to you.

Kyla:

Oh, what’s your favorite country to visit?

Abby:

So my parents lived for 13 years just outside Washington, DC. And they moved back to the UK 18 months ago and I miss the States just because you can do everything in the US, go to every single type of the country to get around.

Adam:

I love it. What’s the best app on your phone?

Abby:

And not just because I work here, but this two that I spend my life on, Messenger and WhatsApp.

Kyla:

Yep. Fair. Yeah. What does your last name mean?

Abby:

My last name? I just saw Rachel Miller pop up. Hi, Rachel. My last name, its German. My surname. It was, as you see it’s said, Guthkelch, Gut means good, H was put in to Anglo-size it, and kelch means Holy Grail. So DaVinci code, all that stuff, no ideas what my ancestors did, but I’m quite happy to kind of think that it was kind of something quite cool.

Adam:

Oh, I love it.

Kyla:

It is pretty cool.

Adam:

And the last question, because this is never actually 30 seconds, name a very British, guilty pleasure of yours.

Abby:

Complaining about the weather.

Kyla:

I love it. Oh, you’d fit right in here in Vancouver, it’s all we talk about, I don’t think we talk about anything else.

Abby:

I know. It’s either too hot or it’s too cold or it’s too wet. Do we actually like any weather? I don’t know.

Kyla:

I don’t know. Anyways, thank you for being such a good sport. Lots of fun. Now let’s jump in to talk about this little company that you work for. It’s like an up and coming, nobody’s really heard of it. You work for Workplace by Facebook. And as I understand it, it’s the only Facebook arm that actually is headquartered outside of the US. And one of the big areas of focus for Workplace is building community at work. So tell us a bit about what organizations that have real community look like.

Abby:

Yeah. So yes it is. The fun fact is that we are the only product to be headquartered outside of the US so it’s not strange to have me in a global role out of London to work for Facebook. So where’s to start on community? I guess, we believe the most crucial ingredient to employee experience has been really, really overlooked for so many years, and that’s connection. And people really have the same desire to have connection and build community wherever they are, not just in their personal life. Absolutely, that includes at work. So it’s something that Facebook and we’ve been championing since the inception of Workplace. And it’s a trend that we’ve really started to seek other speeds, particularly last year in the US with the business round table announcement that wellbeing of the people in their communities was more important than creating shareholder value.

Abby:

And our customers talk about this formula of happy people equals happy customers equals happy business. And when you think about it, you’re like, “What happy? Of course, I want to be happy at work, but how does that really translate?” And, so much focus has been on productivity and output and actually the recognition now is that output is a byproduct of culture, not an end product of work. So it’s not just a question of how much people do, it’s a question of how they feel when they’re doing it, because when you feel better about what you do at work, then you’ll probably do it better, which then sort of comes into better business results, et cetera. And with COVID-19 pandemic, that’s absolutely accelerated even further. But to answer your question of what the formula, I guess of how we could do it.

Abby:

We talk about a five-part formula. First and foremost, you have to have access, right? You have to give everyone in your organization, a voice and a weight and work together to become that community. And really that means that so many businesses need to stop enabling a them and us culture, where different worker types are on different platforms with different access to different information, because you really are not going to get the most out of your community or your workforce. Second one is around transparency. If you’re going to give everyone a voice within the organization and in a way to access things, it has to be underpinned by a culture of openness. There is zero point in bringing everyone into a community only to withhold information and access to the people. Which leads us into the third point, which to do that, you have to have engaged leaders.

Abby:

That culture has to be facilitated at the top by engaged leaders who not only understand the power of community and why it’s important to bring up everyone onto the platform, but also the active role that they need to play within the community. Fourth one is around integration. Not just tech integration, I’m not just sitting here saying, “Oh, come by Workplace.” I mean, please do. But it’s not just a tech integration where teamwork and collaboration is not just encouraged, but it’s built and designed for, but it’s about integration of parts of your organization have probably never even worked together. And it’s about them coming together to work on shared visions and outcomes in a way that they’ve never done or had the ability to do previously. And then the fifth one last, but certainly not least, is about putting your people first, right? Understanding that a company’s most valuable asset by far, is their people. So you have to engineer your business around this community, and you’re very understanding of work around your people to get the most out of your community.

Adam:

It’s so interesting. It is such a different conversation than we were having 20 years ago, 10 years ago even, and so true in that we feel the same way at ManTech, obviously everything should be internal first. That’s where it starts. One of the exciting things about talking to you today is working at Workplace for Facebook, you have worked with some very major companies. Maybe you can give us some examples of successful community building in organizations that you’ve worked with.

Abby:

Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, we have a fantastic group of customers, so everyone from Nestle, Walmart, Starbucks, Petco CIBC, Scotia Bank, Maple Leaf, I mean, I could just go on, there’s just so many organizations who have really, really understand the power of community and the need to really invest in their people, and I feel like a kid in a sweet shop sometime, or a candy store. I forget, I have to change my language to wherever [crosstalk 00:15:24]-

Kyla:

Even the Brits watching you, they’ve got you, yeah.

Abby:

Candy store. I usually can define this commercial and the adverts, I am multilingual. So there’s just so many incredible stories are being told to us on a daily basis, really through coronavirus where everything from where customers have had to pivot their operations, to remote working fairly seamlessly and enabling this connection to come together, and also to keep people informed and just to continue to get work done, but also through to organizations that we have on our books. We’ve got hospitality customers, we’ve got travel industry customers who have had to furlough large numbers of their organizations.

Abby:

And yet they want to keep their company culture going and really make their people feel supported. So one that springs to mind, which is EXP Realty. I think you guys have them in Canada, but they’re a US residential real estate company who have been using Workplace to connect their, I think it’s about 28,000 agents. And they have dispersed full time employees as well, I think about five, 600. And their agents regularly share their best practices in videos and posts from across the world. So they’re really bringing that sort of learning through and enabling each other, not just being to what their little district is, or their little pocket. And it’s about that shared part of community. But what I loved was during the pandemic, they launched a Workplace group, which they called EXP Kidz Korner spelt with a kid Zed and then corner with a K.

Abby:

And it was for caregivers who are juggling work and engaging with kids. So they created this group within Workplace, just purely for content that would work for their kids, the children of their people. And again, it’s not just about community at work, it’s about every single part that, that touch point. And I really love that example from them and Glenn Sanford, who is the chief executive and their founder, he’s actually encouraging all of the agents during coronavirus to get in touch with him via Workplace, rather than email, or message or, whatever it is because it’s to try and replicate that sort of instantaneous, off the cuff conversations that happen in the work environment. And we’re just seeing it here, and so many of these great stories come through from executives doing video updates, hosting weekly Q&A sessions.

Abby:

And then my most favorite is a chief executive of an organization there in the UK, a burger chain, 98% of their organization got furloughed. And their CEO and founder has been leading high intensity training classes, HIIT classes from his living room, streaming it live into Workplace, dressed in his eighties exercise gear. So each time, he’s got something funny. But that’s the thing, we’re all in this together. And also work and personal life is so blurring at the moment. And, this concept of bringing your full self to work, I don’t think you have a choice right now. So for me, that’s actually apart from before I had the haircut, that’s absolutely fine. And that’s how it should be. It’s something that we’ve been advocating for such a long time. So, whilst I would have preferred it not to have a pandemic that had led to some of these behavior changes, I think people are really grasping that community has never been more important, not only at work, but actually in personal life as well.

Kyla:

I could sit and talk about community forever. We built our Comms Unity when COVID hit. And I mean, obviously it’s a totally different scale than what a lot of companies are using Facebook for, but it’s so interesting, the desire and the need and the necessity of community right now. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a need to have. Community is so important to us. And I think that through COVID and everything that’s happened in 2020, we are seeing how valuable it truly is. We have a question here from Rachel Miller that I’m curious about as well. She asks what is the biggest mistake you see companies making when it comes to building communities?

Abby:

Is thinking that the absolute worst is going to happen and then preventing them from actually doing what actually needs to happen. So everyone always starts the conversation with the what ifs, “Oh my God. What if, what if, what if, what if?” You create policies and guardrails and things like that to enable, but also people forget that actually you are coming into a community as your work self, and you’ve got an organizational chart behind it and you have your real name and you have your photo of who you are, and you can click on your profile and quite easily see who your line manager is, and da, da, da. So behavior, I always like to say, “Well, how many times have you been in the office and seen people running around naked?” It doesn’t happen.

Kyla:

If you’re lucky. Yeah.

Abby:

Or screaming obscenities, as they’re running through the office, it just doesn’t happen. So the same can be said within community. And I think sometimes people are really concerned about this awful behavior that’s going to happen. And actually just forgetting that, that’s not how it works. And so the worst mistakes is by locking everything down and being really restrictive about absolutely everything and thinking you can control. Why do we want to control a community? Actually, you want it to flourish. And the way that you allow it to flourish is by enabling people to repeat parts of it and create what they need to.

Kyla:

And that’s a really interesting point too, because these communities, one of the beautiful things that comes out of these communities is brilliant ideas coming from unexpected places. Now you’ve spoken about this before, how a good idea can come from anyone in an organization. Is there something companies can do to encourage that kind of innovation from anyone?

Abby:

Yeah. And you’re spot on. I think I’ve got a sort of a slide that I can say, “A great idea can come from anywhere.” And I really genuinely mean that, you don’t have to be the chief of ideas to be the person that comes up with all of the ideas or the chief strategy officer to come up with strategy. And ultimately, the first thing is you have to give people a space so you have to give them the voice, you have to connect them with each other, and then be listening to them, to when they share. So creating spaces for innovation, but also encouraging hackathons with star mentality within your company. I know I can say that at Facebook, but so really encouraging people to come together around common interests that’s not necessarily part of their day to day job.

Abby:

But there’s a really lovely example from Starbucks from a few years back. Kevin Johnson, chief executive of Starbucks, back in 2017 as they’d launched Workplace, told his annual shareholders meeting the AGM, this great example that came from within the store managers community on Workplace. And one store manager had posted that they were selling, I don’t know, outputs of 20 beverages of this particular item, but it wasn’t on the official menu. The way that people were discovering it was because it was on Instagram, you’ve got us to thank for this. But had basically posted into the group to basically say, we’re not sure if we’ve got the right recipe or not, we’re not actually sure if we’re giving out the best product that we possibly could do and within a 24 hour period, over 40 other managers had posted in to say that exactly the same thing was happening in their stores.

Abby:

And then that evening, the category marketing team happened to stumble across this post because it was trending in Workplace, picked up the chain and was staggered by how many of these beverages were featured on Instagram and they were selling in stores. And they brought that onto the menu the very next day. They rolled out the official recipe and that sort of came through, and that’s what you see. So, it’s not just about having a great idea. It’s about access to information from the front line, as much as anything and enabling them to push your business forward. It’s not always about having very structured innovation groups or anything. It’s actually just sometimes a place and a space for people to just bounce ideas off each other.

Abby:

But we’re seeing so much of that and also crowdsourcing of ideas through polls, through video, et cetera, and an example over in Spain with a global chief executive of a Spanish telecommunications company, Telefonica, they went out and asked three questions to their 100,000 employees on Workplace, what company do we want to be post coronavirus? What have we learned and what things do we need to change?

Abby:

And his rationale behind why… You can imagine somebody being like, “Oh, seriously, vulnerable here. I’m asking my company to give me the ideas that as chief executive, I should have myself.” But his rationale was, the problem in the hard times have affected absolutely all of us, and in slightly different ways. We should find the solutions and the opportunities together. It shouldn’t just be top down. So, I think it’s about encouraging people to share ideas that they have and then have some action out the back of it.

Adam:

I love that. We are going to ask you one more question about practical advice for companies who want to start to take steps towards building community. But first, we’ll come back to that, we are going to head into our last segment or the day, which is a tool tip of the day. And with that, perhaps you can walk us through your tip for our viewers.

Abby:

Yeah. So I was going to tell you about Canva, but Rachel Miller got in there the last time when she was on your show. And she’s told everyone about Canva, so I was like, “Ah, what’s my tool that I’m going to come out to?” So my tool tip is unsplash.com. So for those of you who have to produce decks, slides, potentially keep your communities like Workplace or your Internet’s, et cetera, going, and you just are like, “Who needs stock photography?” Which are just out of God knows what century and so staged and just look terrible, I think for actually communicating getting across that sort of message and that feeling.

Abby:

Unsplash is a royalty free, it is stock imagery, but it is beautiful. I mean, it’s absolutely superb. It’s got 110,000 photographers on there and you can use this photography across everything. They do ask you sometimes to just do a shout out too, to the photographer, but you do not have to purchase, all done through their license. So when I had my consultancy, it was my godsend because I didn’t have to buy photography, which would have bankrupted me.

Adam:

Unsplash is great, I got to use it on a project before too, and I can’t believe I didn’t know it existed before. So thank you very much. Very helpful. We have a few announcements then we’re coming right back to you, Abby, for some parting words of wisdom. We want to let you know that Friday on the show, we have another amazing guest Helen Deverelle, internal communication consultant. We’ll be talking about the communication style of world leaders during COVID-19, so excited about that, as well as how you can keep big projects moving during COVID-19. Beyond that, just a quick reminder that if you want to never miss a show, you can sign up for our insider list, get tips after each show and reminders for upcoming episodes.

Kyla:

And if you’ve been inspired by all this community talk today, there’s two very important things you can do. First thing you can do is join Comms Unity. It’s a community for people like you. We’ve got loads of experts and communicators and practitioners, and they’re all sharing advice, getting feedback. It’s really quite a special space. It’s quite wonderful. Ask anyone, if you’re in the audience and you’re part of Comms Unity, go in and throw in a props and then tell us what you love about Comms Unity, because it is a very special place. So if you’re looking for community, that’s the place to go. And if you are looking for something that you can do to cultivate more community at your place of work, why not get Bananatag? We now have pulse surveys and feedback features embedded inside of emails. So you can get real time feedback from your employees about what they want and what they need from your organization and your communications.

Kyla:

And this really allows you to give employees an easy way to use their voice and let you know how they’re feeling about what’s going on. Lots of our customers have been using it during COVID to see how people are feeling about heading back to the office, if they’re feeling supported at home in their remote work. And we’ve seen some really great stuff coming out of there. So if you’re interested in learning more about embedded pulse surveys in your email, go ahead and check out the chat. We’ll put a link to a demo there and you can talk to one of our banana fam about how it all works and what it can do for you.

Kyla:

So coming back to Abby, thank you so much for being here, great chat. I feel like this conversation could have been three hours long and we still wouldn’t have covered it all. It’s really great. So before we go, do you have any final words of advice for our audience about building community in the workplace?

Abby:

Yeah. Thank you and it’s been so lovely to chat to you guys, and I’m so passionate about this subject. I could have stayed on here all day, right? So, I think it’s just to kind of come back to those five points around community, because without all of those five elements, you really won’t have the most successful community. So it’s not just a case of getting everyone on there. You need to have roles established, have your leadership connecting with all parts of your organization. And you need to have that transparency, that openness about you wanting people to have a dialogue and enabling that conversation. Don’t restrict it. Don’t try and control it. The beauty is when you just allow a community to flourish and people work together that have never done it before. And that’s really when the magic starts to happen.

Kyla:

Beautiful. Empowerment over control, I love it. Thank you again, Abby. Thank you everybody for tuning in. We will catch you here on Friday. Don’t miss it. But in the meantime, keep calm, carry on. You’re doing great. You got this, and we’ll see you next time. Bye.

Adam:

Bye. This really was the Holy Grail of episodes.

Kyla:

Oh my God. Wow. Wow.

Adam:

And cut.

Helping Leaders Step Into the Spotlight with Trudy Lewis

Summary

In this episode, we had a Trudy Lewis, ChartPR, Communications Consultant and Executive Coach on the show chatting to us about how to help leaders who are afraid step into the spotlight and talk about the hard stuff, while helping to steer your organization in the right direction during COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement and Pride month. 

Resources

Project Planning Template
Lewis Communicate

Transcript

Kyla:

Hello and welcome. I’m Kyla Sims.

Adam:

I’m Adam Bradford, and you’re watching the Bananatag Morning Show.

Kyla:

But depending on where you’re tuning in from at night might not be your morning. It might be your lunch, it might be your happy hour. It might be 5:00 PM in the UK and you might be ready to have a drink. Regardless you are here with us and we’re going to be here every Wednesday and Friday at 9:00 AM so we can talk to people from around the world about the ever changing landscape of communications during COVID-19 and dealing with all of this situation.

Adam:

And meanwhile, it’s Friday. And on Fridays we seem to talk to Brits. So today’s very special guest is the one and only Trudy Lewis. Trudy is a Communication Consultant and Executive Coach. She has a passion to help leaders, professionals, and their teams develop an edge to their leadership by becoming more engaging and impactful through communications. Trudy has 20 years experience as a communication professional with a focus on strategic internal communications, employee engagement, and communications for change programs. She supported a number of leading organizations in industries such as retail, hospitality, rail and construction, delivering the right level of communication aligned to business strategy and priorities. Today she joins us from the amazing London, UK. Wish I could go now. Please welcome Trudy Lewis.

Trudy:

Hi.

Kyla:

Welcome Trudy. It’s so good to have you. Before we get started, we know it’s five o’clock where you are. But we need to know what’s in your cup.

Trudy:

Well, it’s a glass and it’s water. Really boring, I’m sorry. It’s too hot to have anything else so that’s what I’m sipping on at the moment.

Kyla:

And it’s what? 34 degrees there?

Trudy:

34 degrees so Fahrenheit would be 93.

Kyla:

Just cooking.

Trudy:

It’s hot.

Kyla:

So water is probably a good choice.

Trudy:

Yeah.

Kyla:

Yeah. It’s probably a good choice.

Adam:

Stay hydrated.

Kyla:

So today we’re going to be chatting with Trudy about how to help your leaders step into the spotlight during all of the stuff that’s going on and helping them steer your organization in the right direction. But first we’re going to get to know Trudy just a little bit better.

Adam:

That’s right. It’s everyone’s favorite segment, Getting to know you. And the way it works, we got 30 seconds on the clock to ask you as many questions that we can. All you got to do is say the first thing that comes to mind. Trudy, are you ready?

Trudy:

Yes, I’m ready.

Adam:

Alright, let’s go. What’s your favorite snack?

Trudy:

Ooh, Cheetos.

Kyla:

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Trudy:

A writer.

Adam:

Cats or dogs? Choose wisely.

Trudy:

Dog, has to be.

Kyla:

Worst job that you’ve ever had?

Trudy:

Oh, look after back of the house of the hospitality, but of a hotel.

Adam:

Ooh. Last show you binged?

Trudy:

Sorry, last show I binged? Virgin River.

Kyla:

What’s the best city in the world?

Trudy:

I should say London, but I say New York. I love New York.

Adam:

Good choice. And finally, what’s your favorite self isolation/quarantine activity?

Trudy:

Oh, okay. Walking.

Adam:

Yes.

Trudy:

I’ve discovered walking in a park is brilliant.

Adam:

It’s funny how that a few months of like solid quarantine really made us all love the outdoors all over again.

Trudy:

Yeah.

Kyla:

New appreciation.

Adam:

Well, thank you Trudy. You’re such a good sport. Now that we’re acquainted a little bit, let’s get to it. And I see lots of comments in the chat so keep those coming. We’ll highlight some of them on the screen here. And if you have any questions, we will pass them on to Trudy as well. So with that Trudy, you do executive coaching and communication consulting. What are some common challenges that you’re seeing leaders facing today that need addressing?

Trudy:

Well, I think that some of the biggest things that they’re facing at the moment is the rate of change is probably what’s hitting them the most. And the fact that some of this rate of change, instead of it being them generating it is actually issues. So it’s things like COVID-19 is out of their control and I think that’s been a really big issue. The fact that it’s something brand new, nobody expected it, and it’s coming at them at a pace. But it’s making them have to make decisions about their company and how the company kind of [inaudible 00:04:53] going forward. So it’s quite a challenging time, I think.

Adam:

Yeah, it must be … sometimes they say that leadership is a lonely place to be. And I would imagine now if you don’t have the right supports, the right coaches in place, that would be doubly true. So there’s a lot going on this year, we’ve all gone through COVID-19, there’s some like very real revolution against racism going on right now. Black Lives Matter. It’s June, which is World Pride Month. A lot of this stuff for a lot of leaders isn’t necessarily natural and comfortable to speak to if they don’t feel expert. Can you talk about that relationship that you have with executives when you’re coaching them through how to show up for their employees in times like this?

Trudy:

Yeah, I think there’s a real difficulty in their minds because for a number of reasons. So we’re now all remotes so we’re no longer face to face. And many of them would have relied on that face to face element to connect with people. I think it’s making them face some of the issues that they probably wouldn’t have wanted to face or they can pass off to other parts of their team. And also it’s kind of difficult because they’re not used to working remotely. They’re not used to kind of not having the control that they used to have. Because there’s an element of that that’s kind of slightly moved away from them. And I can imagine for them, one of the things that you see is that level of responsibility that as everyday people we don’t perhaps focus on. They have the responsibility to kind of answer to shareholders. There are lots of different types of stakeholders that they have to deal with in addition to employees.

Trudy:

So whether it is kind of any element around diversity and inclusion or COVID-19, any crisis is going to be really difficult for them at this time simply because they have to look at the business results and where the business is going. They have to kind of look after people. They have to look after stakeholders and they have to make sure that the company is still profitable. Plus there’s that additional thing of, “What are we going to do for the future? How are we going to keep things sustainable?” So the myriad of things that you have to talk to people about are just unbelievable at the moment. And one of the big things for them is that need to be open, to stay open, and to kind of connect. So I think for me, it’s about being open and perhaps human enough to ask for help and to reach out for a little bit of support from people like communications people and not make the assumption that they can do it themselves or they know what to do. I think that’s the best way to deal with it really.

Kyla:

And can you talk to us a little bit about where some organizations are going wrong in the midst of all this and what communicators can do to sort of steer them back in the right direction?

Trudy:

So some were doing, I mentioned a little while ago about making assumptions, and I think that’s where some of them are going wrong. They are making assumptions about what the problem is. They’re not actually really addressing the things based on their own values and their own kind of purpose and social purpose. So for instance they might say, “We would like to do this. We might want to do a poster campaign,” or, “I might want to do something that kind of shows that we are aligning ourselves to,” say for instance, I’ll use an example BLM, Black Lives Matter. Let’s show that we’re aligned to these issues, but it doesn’t translate into the organization. So a big kind of thing that they did wrong is they might go to the Comms team and say, “Could you put out or could you put together a nice campaign to cover this? To include people about pride, to talk about COVID,” or whatever. Then this lovely campaign is done, but nobody actually sees it within the organization.

Trudy:

And I think it’s easy to do that, but the actual people that you’re engaging with, they see right through that. And they’re kind of thinking, “Well, we’re not living that. So we don’t see the point.” And the communicators, I think the biggest thing that they can do is just come alongside leadership and be something that we don’t like to be, a little bit assertive and kind of step into that space and say, “Look, the reason why I’m objecting to this or the reason why I’m suggesting that we do this differently is because this is how it’s going to come across.” And perhaps make that suggestion of, “Could we try and listen to staff? Could we do something to engage with them a little bit differently because these are really different times.” We’ve never gone through this before.

Trudy:

So from the Comms person, I think the big thing that they need to do with their leaders is listen to what their leaders have to say. Because as I said earlier, the leader has a number of challenges way beyond kind of employee engagement. But then also come alongside them with some common sense to say, “We want to do things this way. We’re suggesting that we communicate this way and here’s why we’re going to do it. And here’s how the benefit is going to be derived.” So it’s sort of … and being creative I think. I think I always talk about being a diplomat as a communications person.

Kyla:

And it is a skill that communicators seems to have to master cause there’s so many things to balance. And speaking of diplomacy and really having to step up in that, when we talk about things like Pride Month or Black Lives Matter, we might think of them falling under the umbrella of diversity and inclusion. Which tends to be an HR initiative, something that HR is responsible for doing and maybe communication helps out, but they’re not necessarily driving that. So do you see HR and communications clashing in this process? And how can communicators work with HR instead of ramming up against them?

Trudy:

Yeah. It’s always a clash between HR and Comms. And I think it always will be because the priorities are different and a big function from their side is that they know how to do Comms. And also they’re more into the program side so I don’t think they fully understand some of why we do what we do. We put an emphasis on audience and message and delivery and so we will ask things often that they’re not, perhaps not willing to do. And it’s quite interesting in a time of COVID and change they are the most resistant because there are things that they think they can’t share with staff. And then communications on the other side is kind of making a demand on them, “You need to share this. You need to talk about this and we will sit with you and try and shape that so that it doesn’t contravene kind of the things that you have to keep private. But we can work with you.”

Trudy:

So I think there’s always a kind of tension between the two. I think the best thing is actually way beyond COVID and so on is just build those relationships. I think the biggest … I’ve had difficult HR people to deal with, but I’ve also had really great relationships with HR because many of them at the heart of it, they want to help people. They want people to be engaged. So when you come at it from the angle of actually we’re not at [inaudible 00:12:37] where we’re kind of … we want to work together. We actually have a common goal.

Trudy:

It’s just that we need to acknowledge that and acknowledge that we’re going to come at the problem from different angles. And if we work together, we will get a really great outcome. So it’s almost saying don’t avoid them because some will say, “Oh, I can’t be bothered with HR. They’re so troublesome. It’s so difficult.” Some would say that, but I would say don’t let that stop you from engaging with your HR people. They are just as much committed to engagement most of the time as you are, it’s just that they’re looking at it differently.

Adam:

Yeah. We at Bananatag have started to see more and more HR teams coming in and working with us and wanting excellent employee communication and engagement. You’re right, it’s just sometimes you come at it in different ways.

Trudy:

Yeah.

Adam:

Our Head of People and Culture here, Agata, we’ve had her on the show before and just absolute dream to collaborate with. And so when that relationship works really well, it’s a beautiful thing. But no reason to be afraid of a little bit of constructive debate.

Trudy:

Yeah, we need it.

Adam:

Well speaking of HR, we do want to touch on a particularly touchy subject right now that numerous organizations are thinking about. A number of companies have had to furlough employees during COVID-19 and now we’re about to enter basically month five of it, at least in North America. These organizations are faced with the decision of how many employees they may actually need to let go permanently depending on how hard they’ve been hit. So when you’ve been working with organizations who are navigating this kind of negative change, how do you go about handling communications so that employees aren’t left with a really bad taste in their mouth on the other end of it?

Trudy:

Yeah, it’s a really difficult one. And I think the hardest part of it is that, I mentioned it before with HR, so between HR and the leadership team who are making those big decisions there’s a sense that they feel that they’re not supposed to share that with people and will only tell them what they need to know. And as a result, many times they bring Comms in quite late. Once they do, once they bring Comms in late, then we have a challenge because we are playing catch up and sometimes we don’t get the full picture so it’s difficult for us to communicate. So one of the main things that needs to happen is that leadership and HR are kind of open enough to involve Comms from day one. And day one with COVID, which was not expected is quite difficult. And what Comms people have done is stepped up and done some amazing work throughout the whole period.

Trudy:

But now that we’re coming into the point where we’re going to have to make some decisions. It’s again, I think it goes back to being a little bit assertive on our part to say, “I know this is coming. How can we support you?” Because everybody who’s been out there working from home, furloughed, everybody’s had a different experience. So we can’t take it for granted that we can speak to them in the same way, that we can share the same messages. We have to kind of have a think about how that’s going to land with them. Some of them have had mental health issues, some of them have been great. You’ve had this real variant of the workforce out and about working remotely. You now have to tell them some hard news and some of that might have to be done remotely as well.

Trudy:

And I think it’s about kind of shaping communications from a leadership perspective so that they have messages with that sense of empathy in it, understanding that this isn’t going to be easy. I’m sure every employee at the back of their mind is thinking, “It’s very possible that I will lose my job out of this.” But it’s actually to work with them and talk to them in a much better way than we have been. It’s challenging because if you weren’t like that before, and then you’re suddenly going to try and do all of these columns with them, they can feel a bit bitter about that. But I think-

Kyla:

Yeah.

Trudy:

I think what comes across more powerfully is the honesty and being genuine about what’s wrong and why you have to do this and how you’re going to help them. And the minute leadership is a bit more open with how they communicate and don’t just pass it off on sending them letters and emails, just make it a bit more personal. Let leadership be visible. All of those types of things that will let employees understand that this isn’t just an easy decision. It’s just not done because we just … yeah, it’s the next step. But that they really care about people. It’s that care and empathy that needs to come across in all of the Comms, I think that will help with that bitter taste in their mouth.

Kyla:

And I think it was Airbnb, I think at the beginning of COVID they sent out … they were getting a lot of respect for their layoff letter that they did. And it was so, what was really interesting about that one was that they did the letter and it was very empathetic. It was very heartfelt. It was very honest.

Trudy:

Yeah.

Kyla:

And then what they did for all of their employees is they set up a job site for them, they uploaded all the people they had to lay off onto this site and then like put it out in a press release. So people who were hiring had access to all these amazing people, which is like talk about doing the thing. Like you say that you’re supporting people and you really follow through. And I think we’re seeing with everything, whether it’s COVID or layoffs or Black Lives Matter or Pride Month or whatever, it’s like you really as leaders, you got to put your money where your mouth is. People are watching and they’re paying attention and you’ve seen so many people do it and do it well, but it’s like there’s no excuses. Lip service is not going to make it anymore.

Trudy:

No, it’s not.

Kyla:

It’s just not going to work.

Trudy:

It’s not. And I mean, there are two things out of that. It’s about listening to your people. So if you’re going to say you’ve got these hard issues that you’re going to have to communicate to them, find ways to hear from them, give them a safe space to kind of share and vent what’s going on with them. And then also include them in the solution. I mean, how many employees kind of know that there are ways that we could cut costs without it ending up in losing a job? So I think there’s that whole thing of listening to your employees as well and kind of giving them a space to share, which comes back to somebody like an Airbnb who thought much wider than, “Oh, we just have to cut jobs.”

Kyla:

Yeah.

Adam:

We got some good comments coming in from the audience. Catriona said, “Being honest and genuine is so important. Well said Trudy Lewis.” Amy Olsen, “Listening to the ask behind the ask is necessary for diplomacy and to provide the best possible counsel. Calling those hard questions is tough but essential to help executives channel their energies for both good intent and good result.” That’s what I love about this show is we’ve got smart people as guests and smart people in the chat. It’s just a whole circle of smart people. And Advita Patel, “Loved the way Airbnb managed difficult news.” Now Trudy, as always time flies. We’re down to our last eight minutes. I can’t believe it.

Trudy:

Oh wow.

Adam:

And what that means is it is time for our next segment, which is the Tool Tip of the Day.

Trudy:

Okay.

Adam:

So why don’t you walk us through your tip.

Trudy:

Okay. So the tool I chose is a planning tool and it’s kind of for teams, but it can also be used for projects. And I just like it because it’s one of those things that we do when we have a team or a project. We rush with all of the tasks and all the things to do, but we don’t focus on, “What’s the purpose? Why are we doing it? What are the values that are important?” And some kind of contracting, which is where rules and action points come in.

Trudy:

So I really love this because it’s a real nice way of just kind of brainstorming all of the information that you need to kind of get your project off the ground. And if you were kind of dealing with a team, it’s the clarity that they will get out of this to actually be able to all be moving at the same pace. And one of the things that’s at the top of that page, it actually talks about what this does. And it actually means that the team works purposefully. Productivity is heightened and stress is relieved. And stress is really, because you just know what you’re doing. And so I really love this tool. It’s just really useful to … I do a lot of kind of mind mapping. So things like this where it kind of encourages mind mapping are really, really useful.

Adam:

I love that. That’s great. Thank you for sharing that.

Trudy:

And we have … Friedel asked in the chat will we be sharing the template? Yes. If you go to the Bananatag Morning Show link, which we can put in the chat, sign up, we send out a show summary and all the links to all the resources. And of course you can contact Trudy directly if you’re interested in following up.

Adam:

Meanwhile, just before we throw it back to you Trudy, we have some exciting guests coming up. Including very soon and we will be interviewing Abby Guthkelch from Workplace for Facebook. Very exciting. She was a keynote at the IABC world conference last week virtually and she’ll be sitting down to talk to us here on the Morning Show. And we’re also very excited that you never have to miss an upcoming show. If you enjoyed today, which how could you not? Trudy is fantastic. You can sign up to get Morning Show reminders, expert content that we discussed in the show, as well as more resources from us coming out of our conversations.

Kyla:

Absolutely. And if you’ve been following us for a while you know that Bananatag has been leading the industry in our email design and measurement tools. But things are changing. We’re changing, the world’s changing, everything’s changing. And we are not just email anymore. So yes, we have the coolest, most collaborative, easiest to use email designer in the game. But now we’re branching into multichannel. That means that you can now send and schedule messages to Slack and soon to Microsoft Teams. So if you’re curious about all that, definitely click on the link in the chat and you can connect with one of our Banana fam and get a personalized tour of Bananatag and see everything that we can do.

Kyla:

And Trudy, thank you so much for being here. What a treat. Always a pleasure to talk to you. Do you have any parting words for our audience?

Trudy:

I think for me it’s about kind of being clear on what we’re doing. Be willing to connect with people and to understand what we’re trying to develop and what we’re trying to build for them. Being confident that we have the skills and the knowledge to do that. Get the facts and be decisive because I think people really need us to step up and be decision makers. And where we need help, ask for help. So reach out to those who might know more than you or might have an expertise that you don’t have or just simply can give you a little bit of support because I know at this time we’re working so much.

Kyla:

Absolutely. That’s great advice. So you heard it, ask for help. You can connect with Trudy, you can connect with us, you can connect with everybody in the chat. And we’ll see you all next week. Thanks for tuning in. Have a good one. Bye.

Adam:

Bye. Trudy, this happens to be the first time that Kyla and I are in the same building doing the show.

Trudy:

Oh wow.

Adam:

But because of COVID, we’ve stayed 30 feet apart.

Kyla:

We’re at opposite ends of the office.

Trudy:

Oh my gosh. That’s so funny.

IABC World Conference 2020 with Priya Bates ABC, MC, SCMP

Summary

This week we decided to spice things up a bit and kick-off IABC Virtual World Conference with two pre-conference, special edition Bananatag Morning Shows.

Adam was busy charming IABC World Conference go-ers as one of the MCs, so we invited Jason Anthoine to help co-host. 

In this episode, we had a returning guest Priya Bates, ABC, MC, SCMP, back on the show to discuss her takeaways from the IABC World Conference sessions so far and to get a sneak peek at what she’ll be diving into in her session, Shift: From communicator to communication professional.

Resources

Inner Strength Communications
Audacity: Bold Thinking at Work
Comms-unity

Transcript

Kyla:

Good morning and welcome. I’m Kyla Sims.

Jason:

And I’m Jason Anthoine you’re watching a very special IABC World Conference episode of the Bananatag Morning Show.

Kyla:

But depending on where you’re tuning in from, it might not be your morning.

It might be your lunch. It might be your happy hour, regardless, usually, you will find us here every Wednesday and Friday at 09:00 AM Pacific and 12:00 PM eastern talking to internal communicators from around the world about what it’s like navigating COVID-19 as an internal communicator, getting advice, best practices, and sharing some laughs as well.

But this week, obviously we’re doing things a little bit differently in honor of IABC Virtual World Conference happening this week. We’ve decided to spice things up just a little bit, jump on a little bit early to catch everyone before they get down for a day of learning at the conference, interview some awesome speakers from the conference about their sessions, and to give you a sneak peek.

So of course, you’ll see I’m joined by a new cohost this morning. Adam is busy emceeing the world conference. No big deal.

So I asked my good friend, Jason managing founder of Audacity: Big Thinking at Work and former morning show guest to join me today. So thanks for helping me out, Jason.

Jason:

Well, so good to be here. Thank you all so much for joining. I know it’s disappointing to see my face instead of Adam’s. So I appreciate your time putting up with that.

We’ve got a great show today, Priya’s here with us and we’re really looking forward to it. So thank you.

Kyla:

Priya is actually a return guest. So Priya Bates ABC, MC, SCMP is back here on the show. And if you haven’t met Priya before, I don’t know where you’ve been.

Where have you been? Ask yourself.

She’s the president of Inner Strength Communications, where she provides culture engagement and internal communication solutions to help organizations successfully manage change and deliver results. She has a long history in internal communications, including working for well-known brands like Loblaw’s, HP, Compaq, and AT&T, not to mention that she’s an IABC fellow and presenting today at IABC Virtual World Conference at 11:30 AM Pacific.

Her session is called The Shift From Communicator to Communication Professional. Priya, thank you so much for joining us.

Priya:

I’m glad to be here today to talk about a subject that’s very near and dear to my heart.

Kyla:

I think it’s going to be great.

So if you’re in the chat right now, please tell us where you’re tuning in from say hi, if you are attending IABC World Conference, tell us what you’ve enjoyed so far.

What have been the highlights?

How good was Adam’s hair and his outfit coordination?

I’m sure he’s going to be checking the chat to see that everyone’s talking about him.

Day two… Yeah, day two of Virtual World Conference. So far Virtual World Conference has been pretty cool. I had a chance to check it out a little bit yesterday. We had our speaker session yesterday, which you can check out on-demand now, which is a feature I absolutely love about World Conference. And then, of course, my cohost in crime Adam Brayford, and the lovely Phoebe Day are just killing it as MCs.

Like we’re surprised, like we’re surprised.

Jason:

No surprise. No surprise.

Kyla:

How are you finding it Priya? What’s IABC like for you this year?

Priya:

It’s… At first I was getting ready to be a little disappointed, not being able to fly to Chicago and be close to my best friends from around the world. I’ve been to the conferences since 1998, so 22 years. I’ve been to probably about 15. So I didn’t make it, like there were a few pregnancies and things like that around along the way where I didn’t make it to the conference, but if I can make it, I always do because it’s one of my favorite conferences.

So I wasn’t sure what the virtual experience was going to be like, honestly, in terms of networking, and connecting, and learning, and it’s been a pleasant surprise.

Priya:

The conference virtual room and experience has been really, really amazing. We’ve managed to network. I’m meeting new people and it is building, not the same as being face to face so I can’t wait to be face to face again, but the learning and the sessions have been top-notch as they always are. And I don’t think I’ve attended a session yet that I haven’t really learned something from. Sometimes you have a little bit of hit and miss, but every single one of them have been amazing. And of course, Phoebe and Adam are doing a terrific job as MCs. I was a little disappointed he shut everything off before he came back in a Snuggie, because I was a little curious about what that was going to look like, but it was just amazing. I’m really, really excited about day two. Exhausted and today’s going to be an extra-long day.

Jason:

Yeah, yeah. It sounds like it’s been great. And there’s a lot of great speakers, lots of content, and really exciting things to talk about and cheer. So there’s no pressure on you at all, really for your upcoming presentation, right?

Priya:

You know what the hard part is? And I feel for everyone, and it was the same for me, is picking who out of the… I think it’s like seven to 10 sessions that are on at the same time. And who are you going to go listen to?

But the benefit of this year’s conference being virtual is everybody who signed up has access to all of the sessions for up to a year afterward. And you also get a chance to, I think that they’re, I’ve heard through the rumor mill, that IABC is going to provide certain tracks afterward for people to buy on demand.

Jason:

That’s fantastic. Yeah. I love that they’re kind of taking the spirit of the in-person event and transferring over onto the virtual side and that’s difficult to do, we’ve all to do that ourselves in Internal Comms and sounds like they’re pulling it off nicely now.

Kyla:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Priya:

Well, I think about the fact that when I used to work at lead internal communication at Loblaw Companies, which is Canada’s largest private sector employer, they do this national kickoff every few years because they couldn’t afford to do it every single year. You think about what virtual opens up in terms of the ability to connect people who normally wouldn’t have been able to travel. I think it’s going to change the game and I’m sure a lot of people who are watching and paying attention are actually thinking about how do we use this for ourselves in the future?

Kyla:

And if you wanted a sneak peek at what it looks like behind the scenes, this is the exhibitor hall, which obviously I’m familiar with because we’ve been getting our booth together and then we had Delia’s session yesterday. This is generally kind of what it looks like on the back end, if you’re looking at it. And I was… I really like this setup. I like how they have them in separate boxes and you can move stuff around. You can make things bigger or smaller and generally it’s been going pretty well. And then even for the main sessions, obviously Adam’s just killing it.

Jason:

Killing it.

Priya:

I like how coordinated they are, the Bananatag colors.

Kyla:

Perfect. And it’s like, I tried to take a number of, these are other people’s images as well, but I don’t know if you all have seen How I Met Your Mother, but Barney can’t take a bad picture of him. I’m pretty sure that is our very own Adam Brayford, just killing it. So proud. So proud.

Jason:

That’s fantastic.

Kyla:

Yeah, but I couldn’t get over how many sessions there are Priya. Like I was telling you earlier, I’m in there and I’m like, “Ooh, I want to go to all five of these.” So I’m opening up all five at the same time. Nope, got to focus, got to focus, but they’re actually, they’re available immediately after the recorded, which is really cool. You don’t have to wait for an update or anything like that, so that was really nice, but which ones did you check out yesterday?

Priya:

Well, yesterday I definitely went to the keynotes. So now I can’t remember the name of the-

Kyla:

Abigail Posner was the keynote.

Priya:

Abigail Posner from Google, she was amazing talking about creative thinking, and design thinking, and how to be creative. So it was a really nice way to kick off and then ending with Max was phenomenal. It was just amazing, he’s a trendsetter, he works for a company called Trend… Now I should really know these things, but it’s a company that actually looks at trends around the world on a regular basis. And it was enlightening. There was stuff that I suspected, but there was a lot of things that were new. I was just blown away by those keynotes, as I always am, but I’m also was also pleased to hear from some of the speakers throughout the day on a variety of subjects, there was an executive panel in the morning that talked to leaders who communicate during crisis.

Priya:

And a couple of those leaders, one had been part of the Civil Rights Movement, another who’s the head of the United Way in New York. And then people from all over, I think they were all from the U.S., but it was phenomenal talking about the crises they’d been in and as leaders, how they manage those conversations. And the most important thing that they were talking about is how they listen. And that’s really switched. I mean, we spent a lot of time talking about all the messages and the stuff we send out, but I think things are really turning around in terms of building our listening skills and understanding skills.

Kyla:

I saw a couple of sessions around the idea of listening and a couple that I jumped into we’re really talking about this listening thing, which is very interesting.

Priya:

Yes.

Kyla:

Yeah. Very cool. Very cool. And I’m curious, I want to just press you a little bit on the keynote by Max Luthy, what were some of the things that surprised you that he said?

Priya:

You know what? He talked about the four key trends, and the first one was what he calls glass box brands.

And this one wasn’t a surprise to me, but I’m glad that he’s actually identifying it as a trend that before, when we thought organizations were black boxes, where what we did inside was different than what we did outside, and we didn’t necessarily have to be as transparent.

He talked about something, it’s now about radical transparency. It’s almost as if those covers are being lifted off organizations and organizations are going to need to answer for those disconnects and can benefit from the connections and the enhancement when the inside is as strong as the outside, wow, those companies can do anything. I thought that was really, really cool. I’m looking at what I tweeted yesterday.

The other trend he talked about was instead of business as usual it’s business, as social. And it’s what he was talking about, is business is now more social than it ever was before. So he provided some accessible examples like Netflix. The Netflix party that I know my kids are watching, which is you’re not only on those platforms, you’re actually being social on those platforms. The fact that you’re connecting with your friends and going shopping with your friends online and discussing a product before you hit buy, it was a really different way of looking at things.

The third one he talked about was the metaverse and it was this whole concept that we all look at those games that some of our kids, I have girls so they don’t play nearly as many games as some of the boys probably do, but he was talking about how the things that we look at and kind of go, “Those are just games,” are not anymore. He talked about the Travis Scott concert that brought in 27 million people around the world and created an incredibly different experience. He talks about the fact that black lives matter is now selling products on these games to create some advocacy, so it really is like something I would never have… I’m just like, “Okay, I’m glad my kids aren’t addicted to games,” but I’m like, “Now I might need to get addicted to games or check them out.”

Kyla:

Check it out.

Priya:

I’m going to check them out to know what’s going on. And the last piece he talked about is this whole idea of unconsumed. So we’re really thinking about our consumption habits, where it used to be, he showed this MasterCard commercial from like 1980s, where everything was about status, and everything was about the haves and have nots, and everything you can actually gather and showing off your status. And now he’s talking about when we’ve got a socially conscious lens on top of things, and let’s see that accelerated through COVID.

Priya:

He talked about the fact that we are now questioning how much we consume, think about us looking inside ourselves now in terms of what do we really need? How much do we really need? What is really important? And maybe the environment does matter, and all the-

Kyla:

Maybe.

Priya:

Right, maybe our healthcare does matter, you know? And I think that he’s… He feels that consumerism is going to come back. He doesn’t feel like we’re going to just stop traveling, but I think we’re going to just be more conscious of what we spend, and how we spend, and how do we offset some of the impacts we have on the world. And so those were really great trends to hear his take on, his examples, and really think then how does it apply to us as communication professionals.

Jason:

Yeah. I really love those four trends because it reminds me of, in the past it seems like we welcome our employees to our company, and then as soon as they walk through the door they leave their outside personal lives behind, and they’ve just kind of got their work lives on the inside. And now all of this, with this glass box idea, you’re welcomed, you’re encouraged to bring that in. And all of those things are shaping how we communicate in the cultures in which the companies have. And I think it’s fascinating to see that, that’s finally catching up with the way our employees have been living their entire lives.

Priya:

I have a friend who’s out in BC, her name is Ayelet Baron, and she wrote a book a few years ago called The Journey to Corporate Sanity. And some of the conversations she has been having, she’s working on her next set of three books right now that is going to launch soon, and she talks about let’s stop talking about work life balance, work is a part of life, and it’s really about life working and figuring out how to be yourself in the workplace and be proud where you work in your personal life. And those things, those separations, or siloing those two things is not going to be possible anymore. So change has to be driven.

Kyla:

Yeah.

Jason:

Yeah, there’s no separation. It used to be work life balance, and now it’s more work-life blending, you know?

Kyla:

Yeah, absolutely.

Jason:

So you and your company are being yourselves equally at the same time.

Priya:

Absolutely. And think about the implications to values and not just saying the values and stating them, but living with them.

Kyla:

Yeah.

Jason:

Sure.

Kyla:

Yeah, rubber will meet the road.

Priya:

Absolutely.

Kyla:

There will be a point, and it’ll be interesting to see over the next couple of years. We’re going through this massive shift right now, not only in the way that we’re working, but in the way that we’re thinking about the world, the way that we’re thinking about ourselves, the way that we’re thinking about our economy, and how we’re all connected. And so it’ll be interesting to see in the next couple of years how those values change, which ones we lean towards more, which ones really actually have… there’s proof in the pudding there, ones we can actually enact, because any organization, and we’ve talked about this a ton on the show, but any organization that went willy nilly with their values, is now kind of like, “Yikes, probably should have done a little better there.”

Jason:

Right.

Priya:

And I think we have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable for the next little while. I always talk… I mean, I talk about the discomfort zone, you’ve got your comfort zone, which everything seems great and that’s where you’re comfortable. You’ve got your distress zone, which is don’t go there because that’s not healthy for you, but there’s this discomfort zone where I think we’re going to see this real growth because we’re having the tough conversations and asking ourselves, who are we?

Kyla:

Yeah.

Jason:

Yeah, it’s an opportunity to [crosstalk 00:16:37]. It’s an opportunity to probe and question and everything’s up for grabs. And so if the future right now is kind of undefined, this is our opportunity as Comms professionals, as brands to redefine it ourselves, otherwise we’ll be redefined right out of business.

Priya:

And as individuals, right?

Jason:

Yeah, exactly.

Priya:

And it really is tying in… I mean, I think there’s no one out there who hasn’t questioned themselves over the conversations that are happening right now.

Jason:

Exactly.

Kyla:

So this is absolutely a great conversation to be having. I’m curious at the lineup that you see for today for IABC world conference, is there anything you’re looking forward to in particular? Any topics that you’re looking to dive into?

Priya:

Definitely the keynotes, I always love watching the keynotes. I’ll take a look, because I’m speaking today, I’m kind of focusing on getting ready, after I gave you some time I’m going to get ready for my presentation this afternoon. And then I’ll take a look at what the rest of the lineup is. I tend to lean towards executive sessions, and change sessions, and employee internal communication sessions.

Jason:

Sure.

Priya:

So those are the ones I tend to look at and the nice thing this year is I know that anything else I can go find afterwards, based on what people are saying. So follow Twitter, it’s IABC20, #IABC20, and I’m noting, “Oh, somebody talked about that session about Winston Churchill’s false teeth. I better go back.”

Kyla:

How do you not watch that?

Priya:

And watch that one, right?

Kyla:

How do you not? You have to.

Priya:

Because apparently it was a really great session.

Kyla:

Oh, that’s fantastic.

Priya:

From somebody who actually worked with the Royal family.

Kyla:

What!

Priya:

So I am dying to go back and see some of those great sessions that I’ve heard people tweeting about. And then what I’m looking forward to tonight is we’re having a special cocktail, it’s going to be a long day, a cocktail reception for before the IABC Gold Quill Gala. And we’re having a cocktail reception for the new fellows that are being brought in. So five new fellows, a nice diverse group from around the world, which I’m very excited about. A lot of good friends and some new acquaintances that I get to build. And then we go to the Gold Quill Gala to celebrate the best of communication results. We’re focused on insight and results, and I’m so excited to celebrate great professional communicators.

Jason:

Yes, fantastic. Tell us a little bit more about your own presentation today. What’s in store for folks who will be attending?

Priya:

Well, I’ve been maybe a bit of a broken record. How many times did you guys say communicators on this call?

Kyla:

A lot.

Jason:

We should make it a drinking game.

Priya:

I found myself… We should. I was thinking of creating a bingo card where every square was communicator. I’m sure we’d be finished like an hour, and I’ve done it too. So I’m not saying us and them, I found myself saying that really quickly because it’s what we’re used to and it rolls off the tongue, but I realized that… So we talk about looking inside ourselves and I think as professionals, we need to look inside ourselves as well. We’ve spent the last 25 years that I’ve been in this profession talking about being more respected and knowing how valuable we could be to organizations if they just listened. And I think there’s an opportunity to say, what are we doing or not doing in order to drive those results we’re looking for. And we tend to do a great job doing PR for our organizations and our leaders. We’re not necessarily that good at doing it for ourselves.

So I’ve created 10 areas, which I actually did a survey on to get people to do a sliding scale between one piece… Do you consider yourself a communication professional or a communicator? And I think most people lied because a lot of people said they consider themselves communication professionals, but if you played that bingo game, they’re all calling themselves communicators. So it really is really thinking about the words, the actions, and the thoughts that we have that we need to actually change before we can drive the change and the results that we’re looking for. And I’ve now got research to back it up. I didn’t know what the research was going to be like, but I’m going to share a little bit about that in my session. And I’m really excited about people’s reactions and if it makes people think about what is the one thing I can do differently to drive the result that I want, that would be a win for me.

Jason:

Yeah. That’s great.

Kyla:

That’s fantastic.

Jason:

It’s interesting, there was a session, I think yesterday, on the three communications hats that we wear as communications professionals. One is coach, one is sort of PR agent, and one is construction of safe spaces. And it feels to me like on all three of those hats, we all have the same logo, and it’s a little hard because truly we’re the conscience of the organization. And I believe because of that role, then that uniquely positions us to be able to help guide leaders, and managers, and the whole organization about what’s important to our employees and why that stuff is important. And we can’t ever be seen as those types of trusted advisors if we don’t do a good job of communicating who we are, and what we do, and the value that we bring in. So if it’s just as simple as changing it from communicator to communications professional, maybe that’ll help us get a little bit more of that brand equity for ourselves, and our function, and can counsel in a different way going forward.

Kyla:

Well, I’m curious what about today, because Jason, I know you and I have had this conversation, I think we had this conversation one of the first times we met, about that seat at the table and that constant conversation that’s happening. Oh, we lost Priya. Oh, there she is.

Priya:

I don’t know what happened. Like I said, it’s probably all the contractors in my house.

Kyla:

No, you’re good.

Priya:

Who are now using wifi.

Kyla:

Yeah you’re good. Well we were just talking about, Priya, why do you think now… So this is a conversation that’s been going on for a long time, this idea of getting that seat at the table and that moving from communicator to communications professional, and trying to get that the credit that communication professionals deserve, why is now so different? Do you really think things can change? And is there an opportunity in our current time that exists, that didn’t exist in the same way before? Is there something special about right now?

Priya:

Absolutely, especially when we’re hearing from internal communication professionals. What we’re hearing is they’ve got access to leaders and a seat at that COVID table at least, that they’ve never had before. And even with what’s happening with black lives matter, people are saying, “What do we say? Let’s call in the communication professional.” And they know that they need to not just come up with something willy nilly, it’s going to require some strategy, and thought, and conversation. And so we’re having access that we’ve never had before, but there are things we can do differently, now that we’ve got a seat, at least at some tables in order to drive us being involved in more. And it really is about not just saying yes and sending out the stuff it’s really about approaching everything with strategic thinking, and planning, and learning to brag.

I’ve said this before, learning to talk about what you did, and how you delivered, why it made a difference from an outcome perspective, and then being able to evaluate, go back to the table, don’t just accept that now we’re done. We’re not going to be done for a little while, don’t accept that now we’re done, continue the conversation. So to talk to people about what are the processes and the people that you need, the resources, and the platforms in order to get the content and information you need to drive a conversation with your organization. There is such an opportunity right now.

Jason:

Absolutely. I think a lot of the other functions that do a good job of that and get the lion’s share of the budget, and the staff, and the resources, and the attention, it’s because they do a really good job at measuring and showing that value. And we provide just as much value and now we just need to be really good at showing what that is. And it’s not bragging if you’re doing a good job and you can prove that you’re doing it, it’s positioning. And that’s just 101 for us.

Priya:

And it’s 101 for business executives. None of them got to the table without promoting what they did, even if they didn’t even do it and they’re taking credit for somebody else. Right? We know that. Right? [crosstalk 00:25:20].

Jason:

A lot of them. A lot of them.

Priya:

But they know how to brag. And when you’re doing the right work, let’s learn how to talk about it and connect it to what matters to those leaders and those executives.

Jason:

Exactly.

Kyla:

Well, we’re getting down to our last few minutes. I wanted to talk a little bit about virtual conferences and all that, but I don’t think we’re going to have time, but I do want to talk a little bit about what we think the future of IABC or future of conferences is going to be in general, because I know that, obviously Priya, you’re tweeting away on Twitter and you’re a huge advocate for the IABC conferences. And you’re also a big fan of the IABC Canada Party, which is something that didn’t actually get to happen.

Priya:

[crosstalk 00:26:08] happen this year. I’m sad.

Kyla:

I know, and we could have had a recreation of this situation.

Priya:

That was in Montreal two years ago.

Kyla:

Yeah. And this is, believe it or not, this is before Adam was a banana. This is his year, this was foreshadowing. [crosstalk 00:26:22].

Jason:

Pre-banana.

Kyla:

So yeah, IABC is always a big deal at Bananatag as well. We really dump a lot of time, and a lot of energy, and a lot of craziness into trying to make it really, really awesome. Not only obviously with the Canada Party, which last year we had it on a boat, there’s DJs Banana [crosstalk 00:26:41].

Priya:

That’s last year?

Kyla:

That’s last year, that’s Andrew, our product marketing manager there. And then we had someone make a way… Oh, this was the year prior. So we had a Justin Trudeau cardboard cut out. We were trying to make as Canadian as possible, and then everyone noticed at the end of the night, Trudeau was missing. And it looks like he made his way home with these lovely ladies.

Priya:

I did not, just to set the record straight. I did not steal Trudeau from the party, someone else did. And then found out that I was driving back home from Montreal, because she had taken the train and said, “Would you mind taking some stuff back for me?” She had boxes. And I was like, “Yeah, no problem. I’ll take whatever you need back home to Toronto.” And one of the things was this Trudeau cutout, and Rita, [inaudible 00:27:34], and I, just who was coming back to visit Toronto for a little bit and do a presentation here, we both drove back together and we just made the most of it. We had a lot of fun and then we arranged for Trudeau to make it back to the Canada Party in Vancouver last year. So I don’t know where he is.

Kyla:

He was in a bit of rough shape by the time he got back, but he was okay, but it was super funny. I think we did have him up at this party. I don’t know.

Priya:

You did. You did. I know I have a picture of Rita and I with the statue, but he was, with the cutout, he was really in rough shape by the time he got back.

Kyla:

Oh, it’s fantastic. Well, we’re down for the last couple of minutes here. You’ve obviously been a delight Priya. We’ve got a couple of things to go over first. Your session is at 11:30 AM, that’s Pacific. How can people find it if they’re attending IABC? [crosstalk 00:28:34]. What track are you on?

Priya:

Yeah, the engagement track, at least I think that’s what I’m in, but if you go into the agenda. So there’s an agenda tab and you can go look at what’s happening at 11:30 AM Pacific today, and then just add it to your agenda, and show up in the theater. I think it’ll be a great session and definitely lots of great discussions.

Jason:

That’s great. And of course, if you can’t make that particular session, there’s fantastic ways to connect with Priya otherwise on all the social channels and find out more about her work and stuff. I’m sure that’s showing up in the chat around here somewhere.

Priya:

Exactly, innerstrengthcommunication.com.

Jason:

That’s right.

Kyla:

Yep, we got it. Emily got us in the chat, they’re going to hook us up with some sweet, sweet links. So you can go ahead and check that out. And so you both did a great job today, but I’d like to thank Jason for joining me and standing in for Adam. I think we might have broken his rule of not having too much fun without him. He made sure to email everyone, not to have fun. If you missed Adam, as much as we did, don’t worry. He’s going to be back next week, so don’t miss it. We’ll be back on our regular time on Wednesday and Friday. And if you like the show, then share it. If you’d like to get show reminders or access to transcripts and previous episodes, visit the link in the chat and you’ll get all sorts of goodies for signing up to be a morning show insider.

Kyla:

And of course, if you enjoyed today’s show, please share it. Tell your friends, tell your colleagues, heck, tell your mom, help us spread the word and visit our page to subscribe. And if you want to keep the conversation going, why not head over to Comms unity? I know two pretty smart cookies who hang out there from time to time who were also on the morning show today.

Jason:

Yeah. Yeah.

Kyla:

It’s a great place to connect with professionals and get you those burning questions asked. Get some insight, crowdsource some ideas, and Jason and Priya are there, I don’t know what else I need to say.

Jason:

Yeah, there’s so many folks there. They’re all offering great insights and great best practices. You can ask any kind of question you want. People are open and free with their advice and it’s just kind of a safe space for the IC folks to just get in and talk amongst ourselves.

Kyla:

Awesome. And so, yes, thank you. Thank you, Priya. Thank you Jason, for being here. What a fun show. Good luck in your session today. I will not miss it.

Jason:

Good luck Priya.

Kyla:

I will definitely be there.

Priya:

Thank you.

Kyla:

Everyone enjoy the conference and we’ll see you next week. All right, bye now. [crosstalk 00:00:31:07].

Priya:

Bye everybody.

Kyla:

Bye.

Jason:

Bye.

Kyla:

Now we get to do that thing where we just wait a couple seconds. So it doesn’t lag.

Jason:

Right, it’s awkward.

Kyla:

So I have to get your opinion. Priya, did you hear our elevator music before it all started?

Priya:

No.

Kyla:

Okay. What did you think, Jason? How do you feel about that?

Jason:

Oh, I loved it. I loved it.

Kyla:

It’s good.

Jason:

I’ve missed going to the dentist and that’s what I hear when I’m at the dentist office. I can relive some of my fun dental visits.

Rallying Employees for External Campaigns with Caroline Dunnet

Summary

This week we decided to spice things up a bit and kick-off IABC Virtual World Conference with two pre-conference, special edition Bananatag Morning Shows.

Adam was busy charming IABC World Conference go-ers as one of the MCs, so we invited our good friend Pinaki Kathiari to help co-host. 

In this episode, we had the wonderful Caroline Dunnet from Edelman on the show, chatting about her Gold Quill Award-Winning Case Study for Dove+Men Care Global Paternity Leave Campaign. She gave us a sneak peek at her session for World Conference and talked to us about how they adapted the campaign to resonate across national, political, and cultural borders while rallying employees to become internal advocates. 

Resources

#TakeTheTime | 5 Dads. 5 Weeks. | Dove Men+Care
Free Back-to-Work SharePoint template

Transcript

Kyla:

(silence) Good morning and welcome. I’m Kyla Sims.

Pinaki:

And I’m Pinaki Kathiari and you’re watching a very, very special IABC World Conference episode of the Bananatag Morning Show.

Kyla:

But depending on where you’re tuning in from, this might be your lunch or your happy hour. Regardless, you will usually find us here every Wednesday and Friday at 9 AM Pacific and 12 PM Eastern, getting in integral communicators from around the world to share practical advice and tips about communicating during COVID 19. And having some last minute chat as well.

Kyla:

But today, we’re doing things a little differently. As you can see, in honor of the IABC World Conference happening this week, we’ve decided to spice things up a little bit. We’re going to jump on a little bit early before everyone gets into the conference so we can chat a little bit. We’re going to talk about what everybody’s learning at the conference. We’re going to interview some awesome speakers from the conference about their sessions. So you get a sneak peek behind the scenes.

Kyla:

And of course, I’m joined by a new co-host this morning. Adam is busy emceeing the World Conference, so I asked my good friend Pinaki, CEO of Local Wisdom, and former morning show guest, actually our first morning show guest to help me out today. So thanks for helping me out Pinaki.

Pinaki:

Thank you so much, Kyla. And thank you all. Sorry.

Kyla:

No, go ahead.

Pinaki:

I’m sorry. I was just going to say, I just thank you. I’ve said it before. I’ll keep saying again. I love what you guys are doing and it’s a pleasure to work with you all. I know I’m no substitute for Adam, but we’re going to have a good time and I’m really excited about our guest and the topic today because it really hits home. Yeah, so thank you.

Kyla:

That’s great. Okay, so we have Caroline here. You can see her. Hello, Caroline, how you doing?

Caroline:

Hi, good. How are you guys?

Kyla:

Doing good. Well, it’s been a while since you’ve been on the show, Pinaki. We started March 23rd and a lot has changed since then. A number of things and well obviously the obvious things like the world. But also lots of things have changed in your life as well.

Pinaki:

That is right.

Kyla:

Something very special has happened recently.

Pinaki:

That is specifically last week. It was on June 3rd, we introduced a new family member to our household so I am a proud parent of a new baby daughter named Annika.

Kyla:

Exciting.

Pinaki:

Exactly, so I am officially on paternity leave, but this is a fun time right now and it’s a pleasure to join you all and, like I said, on this topic.

Kyla:

Yeah, and so we didn’t plan it this way, but actually what Caroline’s going to talk today about is about a campaign she did with Dove Unilever about the Dove Plus Men Care Campaign around paternity leave. So we didn’t actually plan it this way but it’s actually, it’s perfect to have you on.

Caroline:

Perfect timing.

Kyla:

Yeah, it’s absolutely perfect.

Pinaki:

Exactly. Amazing how things just come together like that, right?

Kyla:

Yeah, well I’m really grateful to have you both here. I’m really excited. If you’re live in the chat right now, make sure you say hi. Tell us where you’re tuning in from. And if you’re attending IABC World Conference today, let us know what session you’re most looking forward to. So Pinaki, why don’t you introduce Caroline for us.

Pinaki:

Right on. Yeah, I think Adam will be a bit jealous because he’s not co-hosting today because we have a really wonderful session here. And the talented Caroline Dunnet will be joining us from Edelman. And Caroline is a Senior Account Director at Edelman’s Brand Practice, where she’s a Client Strategist and an Account Lead. So she develops integrated campaigns and programs, basically leading CPG brands. And just some of the many brands that she’s worked with over the years includes Best Buy, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, and Unilever.

Pinaki:

And specifically, Unilever is who we’re going to be talking about today because Caroline is speaking at the IABC Virtual World Conference tomorrow. And she’s going to be talking about her Gold Quill award winning case study on the Dove Men Care Take the Paternity Leave Campaign. So today she’s joining us from her hometown in Toronto, Canada. So Caroline, thank you so much for joining us today. We’re really happy to have you here.

Caroline:

Yeah, thank you guys. I’m excited.

Pinaki:

Right. So it’s great to have you here and today we’re going to be talking about creating campaigns. And not only one that resonates with the global audience but also rallying internal audiences that bring together that internal and external. Before we get into all that, let’s just get to know Caroline just a little bit better.

Kyla:

Yes, yes, yes, yes. Okay. So everyone’s going to have to bear with me just a little bit because I’m doing all the technical on the back end. But we’re going to do our favorite segment that we like to call Getting To Know You. So how it works is we get to ask you as many questions as we can in 30 seconds and you have to respond on the spot as quickly as you can. Does that sound good, Caroline?

Caroline:

Sounds perfect, I’m ready.

Kyla:

Okay. All right, okay. We’re going to pretend that there’s 30 seconds on the clock, but we always go over. It never actually works that way. All right. So where were you born?

Caroline:

I was actually born in Nova Scotia, so I’m a Maritimer at heart.

Kyla:

Nice, nice.

Pinaki:

What was your favorite sport?

Caroline:

Basketball. I actually grew up playing basketball so I’m a huge Raptors fan as well. Hoping they come back.

Kyla:

What was your first job?

Caroline:

I worked at a golf course as a golf cart, drink server.

Pinaki:

Nice. Now if you could work from anywhere during this quarantine, where would you work?

Caroline:

I had to think long and hard about this one, but I think it would be Siargao, which is an island in the Philippines.

Kyla:

Oh interesting.

Caroline:

If you haven’t been, it’s beautiful. I highly recommend.

Kyla:

And who would play you in the movie of your life?

Caroline:

Also, very tough question. I had to poll a few friends for this one. So I think some of them said I look like Olivia Wilde which I don’t see at all.

Kyla:

Oh I totally see it.

Caroline:

But I honestly think I could play myself. I could have a second career in acting.

Kyla:

I love it.

Pinaki:

Oh, that’s interesting. I think we should dip into that a little bit later but speaking of acting and then so what was the last TV show that you binged?

Caroline:

Defending Jacob. So it’s a series on Crave, I think. Or Apple TV.

Kyla:

Oh nice. Well, thank you for being such a good sport. Excellent answers. And now that we’re well acquainted, why don’t we just get down to it. All right?

Caroline:

Let’s do it.

Kyla:

All right.

Pinaki:

Okay, so you’ll be presenting at the IABC World Conference tomorrow on a campaign you did with Unilever. And by the way, congratulations that you won a Gold Quill Award so first of all, let me say that.

Kyla:

Good job.

Caroline:

Thank you.

Pinaki:

Right, exactly. Yay for that. So you’ll be speaking tomorrow at 11 AM PST, right? So are you excited, first of all? And have you presented at the World Conference before?

Caroline:

So I haven’t presented at the conference before so a bit nervous but I’m really excited and I think this campaign was incredibly rewarding to work on so I’m very excited to be presenting tomorrow.

Pinaki:

Awesome. I think that makes sense and we were talking earlier, I think when you are really passionate about it and you just put your heart into it, presenting is going to be a piece of cake.

Caroline:

I’m sure.

Pinaki:

So we know you’re going to rock it.

Caroline:

Thanks.

Kyla:

And can you … Go ahead. No, go ahead. Sorry, I keep cutting you off.

Pinaki:

Really, right? No, I’m just kidding. No, so just to talk a little bit about the campaign, can you just tell me a little bit about the campaign and what your session is going to be about?

Caroline:

For sure. So just to provide a bit of background so at Edelman, we work on a variety of Unilever brands within beauty and personal care, food, and home care. And Dove Men Plus Care was one of those brands. So as you mentioned, I’ll be presenting tomorrow for our paternity leave campaign that we developed in partnership with our agency partners Ogilvy and Mindshare and it’s a very exciting campaign. I think it’s rooted in brand purpose which we’ll get to in a minute. But yeah, so that’s what I’ll be talking about.

Kyla:

Fantastic. We have a short video from the campaign. I feel like we should watch it. What do you think?

Caroline:

Let’s do it.

Pinaki:

Let’s hear it. Roll that.

Kyla:

Awesome. Okay, so you’re going to have to give me two seconds to just figure out my life here. Make sure [inaudible 00:09:23]. All right. Let’s make this widescreen. All right.

Video Speaker 1:

“It’s worth it. Changes your perspective of everything.”

Video Speaker 2:

“Besides the financial stress, I don’t see any drawbacks to it.”

Video Speaker 3:

“You know, you just roll with the punches and see how it goes every day.”

Video Speaker 4:

“People might say that it’s wifely duties, but it’s not. It’s family duties.”

Video Speaker 5:

“It helps you build a bond with your child that a lot dads have been missing out on.”

Video Speaker 6:

“When I saw her smile, my heart grows bigger and bigger.”

Video Speaker 7:

“Even the couple weeks I just had, I’m never going to get that back again and I wouldn’t trade it up for any money in the world.”

Video Speaker 8:

“It just adds up to what I actually want to do as a father.”

Kyla:

So good. So good.

Caroline:

Very good. Yeah, so Ogilvy were the masters behind that beautiful creative.

Kyla:

Oh it’s so good. So I’m really curious, why a paternity leave campaign? What’s the motivation there?

Caroline:

For sure. So I mean as many of know brand purpose is incredibly important now more than ever. And Dove, the female brand within the Dove portfolio, that was a brand that was born on purpose. Everyone is familiar with real beauty and what Dove stands for in supporting inclusivity and diversity. And so when Dove Men came to fruition in 2010, they wanted to start from the very beginning by establishing what they stood for as a brand and what their purpose meant. And that paternity leave. So they wanted to support breaking down stereotypes and debunking what it means to be a man in today’s society and support men in taking the time to spend with their families on pat leave.

Kyla:

Very cool.

Pinaki:

Thank you so much for doing that. Seriously, I mean just even-

Caroline:

For you right now, it’s even more exciting.

Pinaki:

I know. I mean that video was touching. And you’re right. Like going on paternity has a whole bunch of other emotional things that come out for men as well. That was really touching. It was almost like tear jerking. And like last night, I was up with the baby crying, burping and everything like that so I totally feel it. Even like some of the stigmas that you said or the myths type of thing. Even like my wife told me, just yesterday, she was like, “After a baby is born, they promote that skin to skin with the mom.” And we’ve been talking about that throughout the whole pregnancy. And then she was like, yesterday she was like, “You know what? That’s preferred for fathers too.” So it was like, let’s go skin to skin and enjoy that time with your child. And yet, we don’t stop and think about that. But it’s something that’s truly a bonding experience so thank you for doing that.

Caroline:

Absolutely. And I mean I think establishing that relationship early on, there’s tons of data and even research that we did that proves if you spend that time early on, you’re only going to have a stronger relationship. Your child is going to call out for dad just as much as they call out for mom in some instances and so it’s really important to promote active fatherhood and having dads involved in their kids’ lives early on.

Pinaki:

Absolutely, absolutely. And there’s a huge impact from society. This is the birth. This is the beginning of it. And so, the future depends on it, right?

Caroline:

For sure.

Pinaki:

So what was interesting is that we work with a lot of global brands and global companies so Unilever is not different, right? Paternity leave, though, is different in different places throughout the world. So how did you manage adapting something across the different areas and the different policies and the different legal systems? And so make sure it resonates?

Caroline:

For sure and I think for me personally, I work on a variety of a Unilever brands at Edelman and it is a global company. And Edelman is also global so there’s the benefit of working on global brands because you’re able to connect with global marketers and discuss different campaigns. But then the real challenge is bringing that campaign to your market in a locally relevant way. So for paternity leave, yes the Canadian policy is very different than say the US. This campaign similarly ran in the US, but with very different nuances. So I would say there’s three key takeaways when taking a global message or program and adapting it for a local audience.

Caroline:

The first would be changing and adapting your creative and copy. So for example, in the ads that we just saw, there was multiple versions of those and there was shorter cut downs on Instagram and Facebook and the copy on those had to be very relevant for Canada. It couldn’t talk about fighting to get a policy made. The policy’s here. We need to fight for men to actually take the time that they have.

Caroline:

The second would be our call to action so similar to … Our tagline in Canada was “Take the time.” Because men have five weeks access to take that time with their newborn. In the US, their message was “Take the pledge.” So they have a pledge for people to sign and then funds that they had would then be given to men if they were able to take that time off with their children but the messaging was very different. And that call to action for consumers was very different. We were encouraging men to take the time they have access to.

Caroline:

And then, I would say the third one would be how do we leverage influential voices to help bring our campaign to life? So that would be through a spokesperson who we partnered with, influential dads who would share their own stories on social, and then also internal communicators which I know we’ll get to ensuring that your internal employees are also advocating for that campaign.

Kyla:

And we’re seeing brands around the world right now being called out for saying one thing in the media and then doing something a little bit different internally. I mean that’s generous, but for such an emotional campaign, there’s a high risk of having a little bit of like “Oh yeah” emotional kickback from employees if the external doesn’t match the internal. So what did you do to make sure that the external messaging matched with what the organization was doing internally?

Caroline:

Great question. And I think oftentimes, that can sometimes be forgotten. Sometimes you’re thinking first, especially at an agency, we’re always thinking how do we reach the consumer? What is our consumer message? But it really is important to think internally first and do we have the credibility to walk the walk?

Caroline:

And so something that we did is we worked really closely with Unilever HR and their corporate comms teams to figure out what are their policies? And how are they communicating pat leave benefits internally to their employees? And figuring out even the percentage of men who have taken paternity leave and what their experiences are?

Caroline:

And so, before we even launched the campaign, we had those conversations to figure out what was happening internally and then, before we went live, we actually had a town hall at Unilever and communicated what the program was in order to help build that credibility from the ground up and make sure that their employees were also on board.

Pinaki:

That’s awesome.

Kyla:

Very cool.

Pinaki:

That is very awesome. We have to applaud you and Unilever for doing that. I mean in answering the last two questions, you’ve basically reached out to all of your audiences in a very specific, compassionate way, internal and external, all right? Which is pretty awesome. How did that work out? Like how did rallying specifically the internal audiences really help make this campaign successful? Were there any interesting stories or any tidbits from the internal success?

Caroline:

I think starting at the town hall a few things that we did was (a) chatting about what the campaign was and what it stood for. But also giving internal employees, whether they are taking pat leave or not, a toolkit so that they know (a) what are the internal policies? Who do they need to speak to if they have more questions? And (b) if they want more information or if they want to share information with their own networks, where does that information live? And so making sure there is some sort of campaign hub or landing page where people can get all of the information they need too about the particular topic of pat leave.

Kyla:

And that’s like probably been more relevant in terms of internal communicators having to rally all of the employees for an external initiative. We’re seeing that during COVID and, of course, with the Black Lives Matter movement in such a huge way. I’m curious, what advice do you have for internal communicators who are being asked to support external initiatives by rallying employees? Like what did you find the most helpful?

Caroline:

I think I always say like context is kind so providing as much context as you possibly can and the why. So like why are we, as a brand and as an organization, standing for paternity leave? And why are we going out with this message so strongly because it helps people understand the background and the nuances and it’s easier for them to get on board with something that they fully understand. So I always, I think context is incredibly important to make sure that people truly understand the whole reason behind a certain message.

Kyla:

That’s great advice. So we’re actually down … Time flies. We’re actually down to our last 10 minutes with you, Caroline. And you know what that means? I mean maybe you do, maybe you don’t. It’s the Bananatag Tool Tip of the Day, but today it’s just a tip. So Caroline, what is your tip of the day?

Caroline:

My tip of the day is ask questions. And I mean it sounds like a very simple tip, but as I previously mentioned, the why is so important. And so whether you’re an agency or Internal Comms, asking why and uncovering … And don’t just stop at asking the first why. Ask two or three why’s because sometimes and oftentimes, that will uncover a new opportunity or put you down a whole different path than where you originally were going with a certain idea. And I think that starts from the very beginning of a new brief or a new campaign idea, or in the middle of a program if you’re thinking about what’s working and what’s not, you need to continuously ask yourself why.

Pinaki:

Awesome.

Kyla:

That’s great. That’s a fantastic tip. Fantastic. It’s never a bad idea to be asking why. And we actually have a special bonus awesome tool from Pinaki today which it’s a little bit … It’s not completely in tune with what we’ve been talking about, but I know that our audience is going to go absolutely buck for this. They’re going to be so excited. I know this because I work in content. But Pinaki, why don’t you tell us about your tool tip, what you’re sharing today?

Pinaki:

Yeah. So several weeks ago, we’ve all been … Like I said, it’s been months we’ve been dealing with this COVID 19 and working remotely. So I challenged my team to come up with some ways where we can help solve challenges that internal communicators will be facing in the upcoming months. And we had a bunch of ideas. One that really came out and we started working on was how the world is opening up and people are coming back in.

Pinaki:

So internal communicators, we’re all going to be challenged with letting employees know how they’re going to return into the workplace, right? And Caroline said a little earlier today, they created a hub on where they could give the information for this campaign. So we did something very similar. We created a template, Microsoft SharePoint intranet hub and it comes with architecture, design and content. And it allows you to customize it for however it’s going to work out for your organization whether you’re coming back to the workplace or not or going to hold out for a little bit longer, right?

Pinaki:

This is just one tool that we’ve come up and it comes with a checklist for things that you need to consider when coming back to the office, a content manuscript, all the graphics you need, and a tutorial on how to set up this SharePoint modern intranet. And ultimately, it’s there to set up a communications hub to communicate everything that your employees need to know about coming back to the office and what it’s going to be like. So we’re really hopeful that this could help. It’s for free and I believe Kyla will be sharing the link to everyone.

Kyla:

Yeah, absolutely. And I know it will be a hot commodity because that’s where everybody’s at right now is that reopening point. And yeah. It’s a big deal because again, like this is very unprecedented. Nobody has a playbook for like oh what do you do when you’ve had a global pandemic and everybody needs to come back to the office. So that’s so wonderful. Thank you to you and the team at Local Wisdom for putting that together. I know people are going to be so stoked on that. And yeah, thanks everybody. We’re going to put the link in the chat for that.

Kyla:

And of course, yeah. I think we’re getting near the end here. If you’re … yeah, of course. Oh Caroline, your session is 11:00 tomorrow, am I correct?

Caroline:

Yes.

Kyla:

Excellent so make sure that you do not miss that.

Caroline:

Tune in. I only grazed the surface. There’s lots more to talk about.

Pinaki:

She gets much deeper tomorrow.

Kyla:

Yes. And of course, Pinaki, you did a great job today but tomorrow I’m getting another friend of mine to join me, Jason Anton of Audacity: Bold Thinking At Work. He’s going to join me as co-host which I’m sure will not be as fun as today. I’m sure it won’t be. But he can try. He can give it a shot. He can try to usurp Adam. And Adam’s just going to be … I wanted to trash talk Adam just a little bit more, get him all riled up. But I’m sure he’ll be very jealous.

Kyla:

Of course, we have the lovely Priya Bates on the show tomorrow, talking a little bit about her session and what it’s like attending IABC virtually this year so if you’re curious about what a virtual World Conference looks like, definitely show up tomorrow at 8:00. We’re going to look a little bit deeper into that. And if you enjoyed today’s show, please share it. Tell your friends. Tell your colleagues. Heck, tell your mom. My mom watches, I’m pretty sure, so help us spread the word and visit our page to sign up for the morning show updates and you’ll get special show reminders, exclusive content, and more from our morning show guests.

Pinaki:

And I wanted to take another moment to thank you, Kyla. Thank you Bananatag. And thank you, Caroline. You’re awesome. Great answers. I’m so touched by the work. And also by the information and the wisdom that you shared. One last question, do you have any final words of advice, any parting advice to our guests?

Caroline:

Stay positive. I think now more than ever, it’s bit of an uncertain time. People are dealing with a lot on their plates. And yeah, just try to keep yourself up.

Pinaki:

Excellent.

Kyla:

Great advice. So thanks, Caroline. If you’re attending IABC World Conference, definitely check out her session tomorrow at 11:00 and if you’re around tomorrow morning, you could come hang out with me at 8:00 here at LinkedIn, let’s do it. Thank you again, Pinaki, for being here. What a great show. And thank you everyone in the chat for coming and participating and watching us live. And we’ll see you tomorrow morning, all right?

Caroline:

Thank you both.

Pinaki:

Thank you.

Kyla:

Okay, bye.

Pinaki:

Bye bye.

Caroline:

Bye.

Pinaki:

Bye. I want to say thank you to Kyla’s mom as well, if you’re watching. You did a great job.

Kyla:

Her name is April.

Advocating for Yourself and Internal Communications with Priya Bates ABC, MC, SCMP

Summary

In this episode, Priya Bates ABC MC SCMP and IABC Fellow chatted to us about what it takes to be an internal comms pro right now and how we carry all the skills, influence and insights we’ve gained during COVID-19 into the future. She also talked to us about why this is the time to be advocating for more budget, resources, and technology for internal communications.

Resources

Debrief Template
Communication Structure Template
Communication Briefing Template
Inner Strength Communications
IABC Online Communities

Transcript

Kyla:

Good morning and welcome. I’m Kyla Sims

Adam:

I’m Adam Brayford and you’re watching the Bananatag Morning Show. It’s your number one source for communication inspiration and really the only reason we shower and look nice anymore.

Kyla:

That’s true. But depending on where you’re tuning in from, it might not be your morning, it might be your lunch hour, it might be your happy hour, by the way, happy Friday. But regardless, you’ll find us here every Wednesday and Friday at 9:00 AM Pacific, 12:00 PM Eastern. We’ll be here talking to professional communicators from around the world about what it’s like communicating during COVID-19. We’ll talk about tips, we’ll talk about tricks, we’ll talk about best practices and we’ll connect with everybody in the chat and of course have some laughs.

Adam:

Yeah, you may have noticed we had a last minute guests change and today we’re joined by a budding star in communication, just looking for her big break. We thought we’d book her on the Bananatag Morning Show. We have one of the biggest names in strategic communication Priya Bates, ABC, MC, SCMP, XYZ, IABC fellow joins us today. She has a successful history of supporting major businesses through Internal Communication during change management initiatives including mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, workforce reductions, program changes, brand initiatives and launches and more. She’s the president of Inner Strength Communication, providing culture, engagement and Internal Communication solutions to organizations to help them successfully manage change and deliver results. And a faculty member with Challenge Factory, offering communication coaching and training to managers and leaders through their center for leadership innovation. She has an extensive history in communication including positions with Loblaw, HP compact, ATNT and more. Not to mention she’s an IABC fellow. Today she joins us from her home in Ontario, Canada. Priya, welcome to the Bananatag Morning Show.

Priya:

It’s nice to join you. I’ll be at last minute, but I know we can make this an absolutely great show.

Adam:

Absolutely. Thank you. None of us are strangers here, I’ve known you for some time now through IBC Kyla and Nanotech have collaborated with you over the years, including, I think we have a visual, we did a recent blog post with you on owning your value as a strategic communicator and that was just an awesome, awesome piece of content. There’s a video available on the Bananatag blog. We were really excited when the fates aligned to bring you to us this morning or this afternoon depending on where you are.

Priya:

I had so much fun that day with you guys in Vancouver and I was there because my daughter was looking at UBC as a potential university and she actually got in. Whenever they allow her in, she’ll be starting in the BCom program there.

Kyla:

Oh, so we’ll see lots more of you is what you’re saying?

Priya:

That’s right.

Kyla:

Excellent.

Priya:

I don’t know if she wants that, but…

Kyla:

We’re not the… There’s lots of content being created right now during COVID-19 and of course we’re creating some content. This is a piece of our content, but you’re also doing something really cool that we’d like to talk about, your coffee chat. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?

Priya:

The coffee chats started out as my solution to a bunch of people who’d always contact me every week to say, can I pick your brain over coffee? And when we were really, really busy, that was hard to find time to do that. I figured I’d proactively put aside a couple hours a month and do a live session, so I started that in the fall. In the new year, I was thinking of regrouping and deciding what that would look like and as soon as the crisis hit, I thought, this is what I need to do, bring it online, and it’s been a pleasant surprise. It’s meant to be a very small group session that’s supposed to create connection and conversation. Not a one way presentation, but we pick a subject, I bring in a guest and the conversation is, what is the gold? Everybody shares their experiences there, we don’t record the session because we want it to be a safe space for people to have a conversation. So far it’s been amazing, incredible guests and we’ve got a global audience. That’s been a pleasant surprise as well.

Kyla:

That’s incredible. If people want to find out more about this or maybe even join, how do they find that information?

Priya:

Follow me on LinkedIn, I publish each guest every week. There’s only a maximum of 12 that are allowed to register for the event. You can look it up under Eventbrite, Inner Strength Coffee Chats, and you should be able to find the whole list of the May lineup and then we’re in the process of creating the June lineup now.

Kyla:

Perfect. And I’m sure we can link to that in the chat as well. I’m sure everybody’s going to be super interested in that. But before we go any further, we have to ask a very important question. What do you have in your cup today?

Priya:

First of all, I want to focus on the cup. Do you see that?

Kyla:

Yeah.

Priya:

Let me show you the back.

Kyla:

Oh, that’s an original.

Priya:

An original-

Kyla:

That’s a beat peg original.

Priya:

I think Chris sent this to me years ago, early in my… I started Inner Strength in 2014 and it was around then, I guess that he had sent me this mug along with a bunch of swag. In the cup is my coffee with vanilla, milk and always a little sprinkle of cinnamon. That’s my morning coffee.

Kyla:

Perfect. That sounds great, [inaudible 00:08:03]. Today we’re going to be chatting about what it takes to be an Internal Comms Pro right now and how we can carry all of the skills and the influence and the experience that we’re having right now into the future. But before we do that, we’re going to do, my favorite segment, getting to know you.

Adam:

My favorite too. One of these days we’re going to have to sing it as a [inaudible 00:08:25] Andrews. It works if you’ve got 30 seconds on the clock to ask you as many questions as we can and all you have to do is just respond with the first thing that comes to mind. Sounds good?

Priya:

Got it. Ready?

Adam:

Let’s go. Favorite kind of pizza?

Priya:

Margarita

Kyla:

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Priya:

Star Wars for sure.

Adam:

Could you live as a vegan?

Priya:

No. I can talk as a vegan but I really do like meat and seafood.

Kyla:

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Priya:

Priyanka Chopra.

Adam:

Wow, good. What is the best thing about working in Comms?

Priya:

Something new every single day and getting to know a lot of great people from around the world.

Kyla:

And what’s the best thing about being an IABC volunteer?

Priya:

The learning. I haven’t stopped learning from the time I started in 1994. It’s been wonderful.

Adam:

I love it. Thank you. That’s our rapid fire. Good answers, Priyanka Chopra.

Kyla:

Yeah, she’s so great.

Adam:

Now that we’re acquainted, let’s get into today’s talk. It’s going to be such a good topic.

Kyla:

Yeah. There’s been a lot of discussion around how this time for Internal Comms Pros, like it’s a big deal. It’s time for us to rise to the occasion, there’s lots of opportunity. A bit not the best circumstances, but there’s a lot of people talking about how this is a great opportunity for communicators. But is it safe to say that that’s easier said than done?

Priya:

It depends on where you are and how you’ve been functioning so far. I always say that the work we do in the planning we do and the investments that we’ve made in the good times serve us really, really well in the tough times. And so if you’re in a situation where you were able to plan, where you were part of business continuity and you already have the seat at the table, that’s been a really easy transition. That planning meant that once you were in the crisis, you went on automatic and you had the tools, you had the templates, you had the processes, you have the approvals and the governance all there. If you were thrown into it, I think it’s been a little overwhelming from communication practitioners. They see the opportunity but they’re in reaction mode. I’m seeing a lot of communication professionals who are in that reaction mode feeling a little overwhelmed right now, but also afraid to ask for help.

Adam:

In your chats that you’re having, your coffee chats, is that something that you’re seeing a lot of people who are a little stressed, people who are maybe not used to being part of the crisis response dealing with that for the first time?

Priya:

It’s a lot of pressure. It’s the pressure of first of all being thrown into the spotlight when it’s not something you’re used to, but then it’s the volume because never before have we had the situation where they’ve realized the importance of communication with people all remote. Then even as we go back, the phased approach that’s going to be required. If you’re a global company, knowing that everybody’s going to be on a different phase with a different rule depending on where you are around the world, makes it more complex than it usually is.

Adam:

Absolutely. Internal Comms Pros by nature tend to have a diverse skillset. They are strategic, they have to be empathetic and think of the needs of their audience. But maybe as generalized rule, they come short on tooting their own horn. Is that a problem? And if so, why?

Priya:

It is. I think that the one thing about Internal Communication Professionals as opposed to those who choose PR and external relations is that we like to be behind the scenes. We don’t want to be front and center where we feel that our job is supporting our organizations, supporting our leaders and not necessarily taking the spotlight for ourselves. That’s a natural image or culture or style that Internal Communication Professionals tend to fit into. But then what that also means is, if you’re not ever telling people what you did, what you plan to do and what you did for them and how you connected it to the business, it means it’s often forgotten. So we’re sitting here waiting for the recognition and the kudos and not getting it because we never told anybody what we did. We did it silently behind the scenes. And you never want people to take advantage of that. I don’t think they realize… and you don’t want them to wait until you’re gone delivering all that great work to realize what you actually did for the organization.

Adam:

[crosstalk 00:13:18] Sorry, you go on Kyla.

Kyla:

Oh, no, no go, you go.

Adam:

So Canadian of us. What are some ways that you can do that? Like if you’re not someone who is accustomed to, let’s say bragging or maybe you’re not demonstrating your value, you’re showing your value, but you’re not demonstrating it over the head. What can you do?

Priya:

I’ve got a blog that I wrote on LinkedIn called learning to brag. You can see that on my website and on LinkedIn, and we need to learn to brag. As a consultant, it’s almost following the process, being an internal consultant in your own organization. As a consultant, I have to come in and fight for the work and tell them what I’m going to do for them before they decide to sign on the dotted line. Still follow that process, what are you going to do? I have to create a plan with the several checkpoints saying, here’s how we’re delivering and here’s what we’ve accomplished when we’re coming to the table and letting them know.

Priya:

And then at the end where we’re doing a debrief and saying, this is what we delivered for you so that we can encourage them to hire us again. Think about that process and how you bring that to life inside your own organization but it’s very purposeful. It doesn’t happen by accident. And I think that’s the thing that strategic communications is. It’s not things that we just happen to do and react and run by the seat of our pants. It’s very purposeful, it’s very strategic, it’s for an end in mind. We just need to apply that same strategic process to ourselves.

Adam:

The last time we talked, you spoke about the one step you can take to become more strategic as a communicator is to ask questions. And it seems to me that idea of a debrief is along those lines too.

Priya:

Yeah. There’s a briefing at the beginning, which is ask the questions in terms of what your clients need and your partners need, and I’ve got briefing forms that are on my website that you can use, and then it’s the debrief at the end, and I’ve got created debrief specifically for this situation but it can be applied to any program that you’ve got, to actually talk about what did you do, what did you deliver and what do you need the next time so that you’re on that continuous improvement.

Kyla:

As we’re moving through this, if there’s IC Pros out there right now who are in the crux of this, maybe they didn’t do much of a debrief in the beginning because they just get thrown into it. What sort of things should they be looking for, tracking and taking note of to present at the end?

Priya:

Look at the form that… I put a debrief form on my website, which is innerstrengthcommunication.com/resources. And that has all the briefing forms. The debrief form right now is right on top. There’s three areas. There’s one thing I want people to do, write down what you did before, like three phase. What did you do before the crisis to get ready in terms of communication activity, what did you do during, to track every single piece of that, and what did you do after. Because you want to track that, you’re going to forget. If you’re not proactive about tracking what you delivered and who delivered it and who was responsible, you’re going to forget, start tracking that now. At the end of it, take some time to reflect and think about what worked, what didn’t, and what recommendations you’d make for the future.

Priya:

I think about it in terms… Whatever the change is, there’s three areas that you want to focus on. It’s people, and that means resources. Did you have the right resources? Did you have the right people involved? Who would you invite to the table next time that you hadn’t, that you wish was there next time?

Priya:

Processes, what’s the governance? What are the approval processes? Because a lot of you are going to be struggling with lack of approval processes that went wrong or approval processes that were so crazy and bureaucratic that we didn’t get things out on time. You’re going to be reflecting on that.

Priya:

Then platforms, the time to ask for technology, whether it’s Bananatag or other mobile apps, is now. Here’s the thing with the debrief, if you’re not brave enough and courageous enough to ask for it now, you’re never going to do it. This will be the time to have those conversations because people are so close, the business case is going to be there. Write it down, even if you don’t get a chance to present it to a leader, send it to them to know that you knew what you did, you actually thought it through and you had a solution. That’s going to make a big difference

Adam:

Actually. Quite an opportunity for any communicator right now who is in house with an organization or even consulting. Here’s how it went for the last several months, here’s what was the challenge for us, here’s what kept us from getting the right message out to the right people quickly and in time and here’s what would have changed that.

Priya:

And don’t forget, here’s what we did right.

Adam:

Yeah.

Priya:

Don’t forget that. That’s the learning to brag. Here’s what we delivered well considering the circumstances and here’s what we think would make it better next time. Because people will be looking at next time now and we’re starting to see companies and clients who are looking at technology solutions, who’d put it on hold. Who said, I’d like to do that now they’re all thinking, I wish I’d done it, I wish I was prepared.

Kyla:

And it’s bigger than just bragging too. By doing that debrief and making sure that your leaders are aware of what was going on, you’re actually teaching them and you’re teaching your whole organization how to move forward, you’re evolving everyone. If you want to frame it, it’s not just learning how to brag about yourself, but you have a responsibility to educate and keep people moving forward.

Priya:

Yeah. I talk about learning how to brag because that’s so out of the comfort zone, it really is, you’re trying to help. In that process, you’re demonstrating your expertise, you’re demonstrating your strategic thinking, you’re demonstrating your connection to the company and your connection to the impact and the business results that you’re really focused on.

Adam:

I love it. We have a question from Michael who I believe was at the Ovation awards and IABC [inaudible 00:19:37] with you last evening. A question for Priya. Oh, this is a doozy. What are your top three tips for communicating internally to your organization in a rapidly evolving pandemic? Pretty relevant right now.

Priya:

I love alliteration, everything I do is alliteration because I think it’s also a memorable. When we’re teaching managers or organizations, what to think of, I think of three things. Contact, how often do you want different groups connecting with your people? And that’s at the different levels. The reason you want to really be proactive about that is you’re not wanting to create too much noise, but you’re also wanting to say to managers, we expect you to connect with your people one-on-one or in a group on a regular basis. Everybody has some consistent way of delivering it.

Priya:

Second is content. We have a lot of information right now and there’s the facts and we want to be sharing that with people on a regular basis and in a timely way so that they hear the truth from you first.

Priya:

Then the last piece is context. I think we’re doing a pretty good job providing the content, the facts, what’s happening in your location. But we’re not actually telling people why we’re making the decisions we’re making. We’re so focused on telling them the stuff and checking the box and saying, we did it, we’re not providing the humanity. We’re hearing that a lot, where are we putting the context and the caring and the reasons why we’re making good decisions or tough decisions? The reason why we’re asking frontline workers to be out there during a time that it’s not as necessarily safe to do so.

Priya:

Really thinking about, why are we… and asking as Communication Professionals, why? Is going to be the difference between people who are just saying we’re delivering communication versus we’re communicating and having a conversation with our people. It’s the focus on more C words. I think that it’s no longer about campaigns, I think the campaigns are dead during the situation. It’s about managing the conversation. And that’s a regular back and forth asking people how they’re doing is really important.

Adam:

That was a tweetable quote. It’s not about campaigns, it’s about conversation.

Priya:

Yes.

Adam:

For managing the conversation, that’s great.

Kyla:

I love that. We’ve talked about how this is an opportunity for IC Pros. We’re all learning a lot regardless of your experience level. How can we take these lessons that we’ve learned from dealing with COVID-19 as Communications Professional and bring those into the future?

Priya:

Measure.

Kyla:

[inaudible 00:22:28].

Priya:

And I think I said that when we were together in Vancouver in November, I think we forget to do that. Part of doing that debrief is writing down what happened, what didn’t. For those clients of mine who I worked with to implement technology platform solutions, I had one client in particular who had 19% of their employees who went to their internet. It was really low, that’s what they said anyway during an audit that we delivered. As soon as we launched a business platform with them, that increased to 65% of their employees going to their internet and maybe 35% downloading a mobile app. When this crisis hit, the numbers went through the roof. And I think you guys saw the same thing with, maybe you’re not bringing in new clients as such, but the one clients you did have all of a sudden decided to put more seats.

Priya:

They may have purchased something for 500 of the office employees, but now they wanted to extend it out to all of their field employees as well. So that’s where… because all of a sudden the value was there and now those companies who have the tools measure what happened. Ask employees through surveys if you don’t have the measure about how they felt before, during, after, this is the time to do your research. [inaudible 00:23:49] I’d love to come in and help you do a communication audit during this situation because never before are you in a situation where, first of all, employees who are working from home probably have the time to fill out a survey depending on how busy they are. But it may be now or shortly after that you actually do a communication audit that can feed into what you need to improve going forward. So, the measurement is key.

Adam:

Yeah. My IABC friend, Phoebe day, has been on the show before and one of our local IPC board members, Julia White, both attended your IABC Canada West conference in Banff session on communication audits and said it was a game changer for them.

Priya:

I’m thinking of delivering that online, if anybody’s interested I’ll add a bit of a cost, but it will be well worth it. If there is interest in that, I’m happy to deliver a program like that online.

Kyla:

I’m sure there is.

Adam:

Tell us in the comments right now. Speaking of comments, we have a comment from Cynthia Allen. We just launched a wellness podcast for mental health awareness month. The feedback and engagement has been very positive. I’d like to consider using podcasting as a regular Comms channel. Would you recommend it as an IC channel? What type of content would you recommend for a podcast internally?

Priya:

When I worked at one of my… One of the organizations I worked with, when I was with Inner Strength is the Ontario Nurses Association. And we launched a podcast to an audience that’s not used to podcasting and it was really interesting. But, I love, I think podcasting is growing by leaps and bounds, I love the opportunity to hear it online. It’s a nice format for executives who aren’t necessarily comfortable in front of a camera and I’ve seen it used really well for like sales staff who can listen to it when they’re driving someplace and hear from their leaders. I think that really thinking about why do you want the podcast and who is the audience, will help you determine what content you’re going to provide in it.

Priya:

But I think there’s great opportunities to share information. Make it more conversational, it’s not just about the content, it’s about the context. And really create an opportunity for storytelling through that contest. With the podcast, there’s no reason that it has to be one executive that you’re interviewing. I bet you could bring in stories from the field and stories from your employees about what’s happening that you can edit into those podcasts as well. What do your employees and what are your stakeholders need to hear and want to hear, two different things. What do you want to tell them? What do they want to hear from you? And then be able to drive that content in a conversational manner that they feel that they’re listening in. I think that’s the great thing about podcasts, it’s like you’re a fly on the wall listening in on a conversation and you’re getting insights that are really important.

Adam:

That comes nicely on the heels of our last episode where we talked to another IABC fellow, Jennifer [War 00:27:11] on storytelling. Now in this session, I can’t believe it, we’re down to our last five minutes and you know what that means? It’s time for a Bananatag tool tip of the day. Why don’t you instill upon us your tool tip Priya Bates?

Priya:

The first one was the professional one. Download the debrief sheets and go to the resources section, it’s free. There’s no requirement to put in your information, it’s all available publicly. Take advantage of using that information. The other thing is, this is something that my daughter gave me for Christmas and I want to see if I can show it to you guys. Can I show it to you?

Adam:

Yeah.

Kyla:

Oh, there you go. Yeah.

Priya:

This is my bad-ass button. And so whenever… I think that we forget to give ourselves the Pat on the back and inspire ourselves, we’re waiting for other people to recognize us, but I think we need to… I do affirmations every morning, I try to meditate, I try to do those things to kind of pick myself up. Let me see if you can hear this.

Speaker 4:

You can do it. Do what you love. You create your reality. Feed fear a suck it sandwich. You are a bad ass.

Priya:

I love that.

Adam:

Mother’s day is coming up. Maybe some of us can just steal that idea. [inaudible 00:28:34] great in COVID when you’re separated to have that all the time, that’s genius. I love it. Perfect tool tip of the day. A couple of announcements and then we’ll throw it back to you Priya. Next week on the show we have an amazing lineup, we have Kim Clark. Who you may have heard from before on our diversity and inclusion for Internal Comms webinar. She works in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Communications and calls herself, culture of belonging designer. She’s also a lecturer at San Jose State university. You don’t want to miss this, she’s absolutely fantastic.

Adam:

We also have, we’re just really keen on IABC fellows here, We just can’t get enough of them. We have John Clemens, who is a consultant, a fellow, a professor at the university of North Carolina at Charlotte. Look for those event invites. Help us grow the show, share them if you don’t mind at Bananatag and we’ll see you for those shows as well.

Kyla:

Absolutely. And if you’re not done learning yet, I know of a place where you can connect with people like the lovely Priya Bates and ask them your burning Internal Communications question. It’s Comms unity, come hang out, connect with people in Internal Communications, ask questions. We’ve got such vibrant conversations happening there with over 300 communicators strong in there now. We’ll put the link in the chat to join. Definitely come and hang out. And of course, if you’re an internal communicator who is sending lots of email right now, wouldn’t it be nice if it was just a little easier to collaborate with your teammates [inaudible 00:30:16] on that? We are now the most collaborative email designer in Internal Communications. So you can have multiple editors in there making up your emails, making them fast, getting approval and sending those out and then sending measurable emails so you can get insight and feedback on those emails and making sure that they’re resonating with your audience.

Kyla:

If you’re interested in trying out our email designer and our collaboration features, definitely check out in the chat right now. We’ll put a demo link in there so you can talk to one of our AEs about all of the awesome features that Bananatag offers, that’s all about us. Before we go, Priya, thank you so much for being here, we know that it was last minute, but you’re amazing. What a wonderful chat. So many good insights and I know that everybody in the chat definitely enjoyed it.

Kyla:

Before we go, do you have any final words for our audience for dealing with what they’re going through right now?

Priya:

Know how valuable you are. I’ve said that Internal Communication is an integral enabler of business success. You are the gap between what an organization wants to deliver and employees actually creating that experience. Know your value, know it from the inside out, build inner strength and I’d love to help whenever you want to give us a call. Whether it’s with training or mentoring or coming in and delivering the audits and consulting. Good luck, hang in there, be ready to ask for help and learn to brag.

Kyla:

Awesome. That’s great advice, I love that. Know your value, that is so important right now. You heard it everybody. Priya Bates, thank you so much. Thank you everybody in the chat for joining us today live and we’ll see you on Wednesday with Kim Clark, don’t miss it. Going to be an excellent show, she’s an absolute treat. Everybody have a great weekend, take care of yourself. Do something for you, relax, enjoy. We’ll see you next week. Bye now.

Adam:

Bye.

Putting Employees First with Anthony Vaughan

Summary

In this episode, Anthony (AJ) Vaughan host of the E1B2 podcast joined us to talk about why not putting people first is a mistake and how we can learn from employees and the power of scaling your feedback process.

Resources

The E1B2 Podcast

Transcript

Kyla:

Good morning and welcome. I’m Kyla Sims

Adam:

I’m Adam Bradford, and you’re watching the Bananatag morning show. So you must be very intelligent

Kyla:

But depending on where you’re tuning in from. This might not be your morning. It might be your lunch. It might be your happy hour. Regardless, you will find us here every Wednesday and Friday at 9:00 AM. Pacific 12:00 PM Eastern, and we’ll be here interviewing incredible communicators and thought leaders from around the world about what it’s like navigating the COVID-19 crisis. Getting some tips and tricks for making sure that you’re connecting and we’ll also be having some laughs as well.

Adam:

Absolutely. Now we are so glad that you’re tuned in. We see you in the chat. We’re glad that you like the elevator music that we’ve got during the countdown, we couldn’t really decide if we’d liked it or it was making us nervous, but-

Kyla:

It’s a little controversial. Actually, again, it’s a little controversial. Some people like it, some people hate it.

Adam:

Natasha thinks it’s reminiscent of the 70s, Tiki bar. I like it. So thank you for tuning in. We’ve got Amy from Minnesota. We’ve got people from all over. So say hi, tell us where you’re from and send us your questions throughout today’s show. Meanwhile, you may have noticed we have an amazing guest with us today. Anthony Vaughn, who prefers AJ is an out of the box. rappel hybrid, obsessed with all things, entrepreneurship and employee experience. He’s a former two time founder, advisor, executive and proud son. His rise in the world of HR is one that is definitely not typical, but his focus and dedication to putting employees first drives him to help forever change the world of work. Today he joins us from his home in Baltimore. Please. Welcome AJ Vaughn.

AJ:

How are you guys doing? I love the intro. So I love it. Anyway.

Adam:

Now use it on your show reel.

AJ:

As I was listening, I was like, “This does sound pretty good. I like this.” So I appreciate it.

Kyla:

I love it. So before we get started AJ, do you have a cup of tea today?

AJ:

I do.

Kyla:

What is in that cup?

AJ:

In front of it, it looks like it’s a 1965, maybe Camaro here or something like that. And then there’s some in here. So it looks pretty good.

Kyla:

What kind of tea? What kind of tea are you rocking?

AJ:

Just some classic green tea.

Kyla:

Nice green tea. We haven’t had green tea on the show yet.

AJ:

Okay, cool. Just a classic.

Kyla:

We’ve had lots of British tea, but no green tea.

AJ:

Okay. So I’m enjoying it.

Kyla:

So today we are going to chat about the internal communicators role in getting executive buy-in. We’re going to talk about ensuring that employee feedback is put to good use. We’re going to be talking about putting the human back into internal comms. But first we’re going to get to know AJ just a little bit better.

Adam:

That’s right. It’s our favorite segment of the day. It’s getting to know you. The rules are pretty simple. You got 30 seconds on the clock. We’ve got a bunch of questions you’ve not been prepared and you have to do is sit back and say the first thing that comes to mind. Sound good.

AJ:

I’m ready. I’m ready.

Adam:

All right. Let’s dive in. What’s your go to delivery food during isolation?

AJ:

Ooh. Chipotle

Kyla:

What’s the last show that you binged.?

AJ:

I binged a lot of shows. Entourage. That’s out of the box.

Adam:

It’s such a good show. Favorite place in the world?

AJ:

Exactly where I am right now.

Kyla:

Oh, what did you want to be when you were little?

AJ:

A sports agent?

Adam:

Can you pronounce Elon Musk and Grimes baby name?

AJ:

I don’t even know what their baby names are.

Kyla:

It’s A weird, it’s just a bunch of Roman numerals.

AJ:

That’s interesting.

Kyla:

Who inspires you most?

AJ:

Oh my mom. Yeah.

Adam:

And a very important question. What is the best dinosaur?

AJ:

Don’t know too many dinosaurs. What’s the smallest one. Let’s go there. A little out of the box.

Adam:

No, that’s good.

Kyla:

I don’t even know.

Adam:

That is out of the box. Good choice.

AJ:

The one that’s underrated.

Kyla:

That one. I like it. Perfect.

Adam:

Well, now that we are acquainted, let’s get down to it, shall we. Fantastic. So trying to find the right graphic here. So we can do you justice. AJ you host a podcast which is called E1B2, can you tell us a little bit about it?

AJ:

Yeah. So about eight months ago, I decided to start the E1B2 podcast employees first business second. It really stemmed from just, we don’t have to get too much into it, but it stemmed from a really tough situation I went through my own entrepreneurial career where I did not put an employee first. That was really the reason of why the business does not exist today. So I really wanted to try to create the podcast to kind of just bring a lot of thought leaders together, learn from them first and foremost, because I don’t directly traditionally come from this world.

                So I wanted to learn a lot. And then also wanted to kind of test out a lot of my out of the box perspectives in real time and see how the listeners and subscribers would gravitate to it. And then inevitably see how the guests would gravitate to it. My approach to this E1B2 philosophy is a very practical, but it tends to be a little out of the box. So I don’t know. I just try to put out some content to the world that I think it needs to be heard a little bit more and implemented in business. So it’s something I’m passionate about.

Adam:

I have to admit it’s really embarrassing. I only realized in this moment E1B2 to employees first business second. It takes a bit of time.

AJ:

Yeah, it’s okay. It’s okay.

Adam:

What you’re saying resonates though, our CEO, Corey, has a story kind of similar to that from the early years of Bananatag, where he’s walking in the office and ask the employee how they were doing and just for real feedback and their experience. They said, “It’s great. I love the work, but I feel I’m a number.” That really resonated with him and since then, the focus on culture at the company is huge and employee experience. So you can’t underestimate how that transforms your workers’ lives.

AJ:

100%

Kyla:

I’m curious why you chose podcasting for this particular venture?

AJ:

So this is actually interesting. So I suffer from severe ADD. I have throughout my entire life, I took medicine for 15 years, so I’m not great writer. I’m not a great writer, not a traditionally great reader. So I tried a lot of different forms of communication and I’ve just been told throughout my life that I was great at communicating. Great at just kind of resonating with people, making people feel comfortable. Yeah, just decided that podcasting would be the go to move and I’m enjoying it. Yeah. It’s creating a lot of opportunities that I didn’t expect.

Kyla:

What are some of the things that you’ve learned from doing the podcasting?

AJ:

Huh? What are some things that I’ve learned? That building up an audience actually through podcasting is a lot harder than a lot of people make it seem. There’s a lot of different tactics and nuances that you have to get involved with to really grow that listenership, if you don’t have a lot of ancillary dollars laying around to generate ads and such. So that’s probably one thing I’ve learned. And then on the podcasts itself, I’ve actually learned that a lot of my out of the box perspectives are not as foreign as I thought they were, which is nice to hear, to know that I’m on the right track, so.

Adam:

Well, hopefully we have a multiplication of audience that will come out of today. We’ve got some viewers tuning in from all over the US and the world. Hi Kristen, in Indianapolis. I know, you know Kristin Hancock.

AJ:

Yeah. She’s on the podcast.

Kyla:

She’s amazing.

Adam:

[crosstalk 00:10:22].

Kyla:

[inaudible 00:10:27.

Adam:

Dangerous.

Kyla:

So AJ why is the human element so central to the work that you do? You speak about it a lot.

AJ:

Yeah. I’ll give a very brief story. I’ll try not to cry. So my very first business I started when I was actually 19. So I was still a kid I’m just now maturing. My mom tried to tell me. So long story short, had a business doing very well. And then inevitably one of my top employees said, “Look, I want a little bit more of a role here. I want some equity in the brand.” Me being in a very arrogant 19 year old kid, former D one athlete, just being an idiot just completely said, “No, you’re crazy. That will never happen.” All he really wanted was a nice long steak dinner, a few drinks, and just really talk about his future and really wanted to just explain to me why he felt he deserved that.

                And now that I’m looking back on it hindsight 2020, he was the linchpin of every single contract that we had within the organization. Now from a business perspective, that was a horrible way of building the organization. But let’s put that to the side at the human element. I could have at least had that conversation. I could have at least showed some empathy and some compassion for what he wanted and would have been interested in it. I didn’t do that. So why I’m so interested in the human element is that was the exact reason the business ended. He walked away from the brand a little under six months later brand literally went to zero because of a few different factors, but that was the main factor. And ever since then, I really care a lot about this. It’s more important at a very emotional level for me than I think a lot of other practitioners in the space. So it’s really close to my heart.

Kyla:

Well, you’ve experienced it firsthand. It’s interesting because big brands, I feel in the last couple of years are finally realizing that this is a thing and actually talking about professional development of their people. Or giving them the proper balance and actually addressing that human element. But a lot of people never really thought of that or put any importance on it because they didn’t have the experience of the true one-to-one like, “Oh, we lost this person and it was a big deal. We could have done things differently.” So I think that even on a small scale, that’s such an important lesson broadly for organizations. So that’s really great. I’m curious, when you think about internal communications, so employee communication, and we’re thinking about the human element, how do practitioners really weave that in a bigger setting?

AJ:

So in a bigger setting I think… And look, I’m probably the wrong person to talk to as it pertains to scaling that human element, right? Because for me, I like to try to scale the unscalable, right? For example, I’ll give you a very practical example. The company that I was with recently before we got shut down due to COVID, we were looking at almost 200 employees. And again, that’s not big on the scale of, there are companies that have thousands of employees, but at that scale, I had my CEO tell me it’s impossible for you to try to conduct one-on-one conversations and new career mapping at the individual level. Let’s try to figure out other avenues, right? Surveys, things of that nature to kind of understand and get a pulse on what people wanted and what people would never want to do.

                I accepted that, but I still went ahead and went throughout my process over a two month period of time, I would have thoughtful one-on-one conversations that are 30 minute, 45 minute clip until 9:00, 10:00 in evening at sometimes because again, throughout my personal situations, I really wanted to get a true sense. I wanted to see their eyes. I want it to feel the energy in the room. I want it to actually know what was happening and at a macro level, again if you’re a company of 500, 600 people, it may take you eight months. I don’t know. But I think it’s worth it. I think it’s worth it. I’ve heard Claude Silver of Vaynermedia talk about this. That’s a perfect example. They have a very big brand. I think they’re maybe 1,000, maybe 1,500 people now. She said over the course of eight months, she conducted 15, 20 minute meetings with every single employee. And that’s a direct, direct internal communication that I think is important. That is a version of scaling unscalable that I really appreciate.

Adam:

Here’s the thing in the world right now, which is mostly digital. It’s easier than ever. I think we have all of these constraints in our minds about, “Oh, well, maybe I’ll go to the other office when I can travel there.” And three months, there’s no reason you can’t have the CEO doing breakfast with the CEO every week and after COVID as well.

AJ:

100%, at the very least in person and via platforms like there’s Zoom or other platforms, you can do a company wide fireside chat, you can get really creative that way. You can have 70, 80, 100, 500 of your employees sitting on a chat here and just listening and have someone, kind of keeping track of what’s being said and answering questions in real time, as the person that’s kind of going through the information. So there’s different ways to do it. But I really liked that one to one or one to small group setting. Because I can just feel… You get more out of it, you get the truth out of it. So that’s just my personal perspective of it.

Kyla:

Well, I think that you’re right on the money. Because a couple of weeks ago, we were talking to Angela Sinickas she’s been in internal communications doing measurement stuff before it was cool. We were talking a little bit to her about, how do you start measuring your internal communications? She said, “Sit down with people and talk to them.” That’s the first step. Talk to people, get a pulse on what’s going on, have focus group, ask questions. Put things out there and see how people respond and have your little circle of people that you trust to try things on and then go wider.

                So I think there is some difficulties with scaling one-to-one conversations, but the sentiment is still true that we still want to get that feedback and that feedback is so important. There is something to be said about creating that personal environment, the kind of things that you might get out of a one-on-one are not necessarily the things that people would say in a bigger group. So it’s really important. Of course, everybody loves to feel they’re cared about. Having someone actually sit down with you and talk to you it’s a big deal that they’re taking time out of their day to do that. I think it’s really great.

Adam:

There is a great conversation going on in the chat right now. People have been very inspired by you sharing some of your earlier perhaps learning experiences in your career. Michael Blackburn, who we’d seen on the show before, it’s in our mistakes and stumbles that we find the most growth. So lots of inspiration in the conversation. So keep the questions.

AJ:

Appreciate it.

Adam:

Yeah. Keep the questions coming in the chat. Meanwhile, speaking of feedback, Bananatag, we’re big on measurement naturally. Our customers, these are our pulse survey tool to gather feedback from their employees every week, every day. But gathering feedback is just one part of the equation. Can you talk to us about the biggest mistake you see brands making once they ask their employees for input.

AJ:

This is something you probably heard a million times, but I’m still seeing brands made this mistake, not implementing what they receive, right? Again, at a macro level and a micro level, my little small world and the people that I’ve talked to, they are collecting the data just to check the box, right? It’s part of their job description to put out these surveys and collect data and so they’re doing it right. I don’t want to get in this whole conversation actually of a… I was actually going to say something, but I don’t want to be too controversial here of the mindsets of why certain people just check the box. So let’s go beyond that, but they just check the box, right? They check the box and then there’s no executive meeting. There’s no thoughtful process or conversation at the high level between those executives.

                Okay. Let’s look at this data. Let’s go through this thoughtfully, let’s set a three, four hour meeting. Let’s really skim through here and pull some silver linings. And then let’s say, you’re not even going to pull any silver linings. Let’s say you’re not even going to implement anything that came back. You can at least reach out to those employees, those buckets, those categories of the feedback you got and let them know that they’re being heard. That you guys are going to consider some things or that you guys are going to try to find a way in the future to implement it. But right now, maybe it’s not the right time.

                I think there’s something to be said there, but from what I’ve been saying, and again, I don’t want to speak at a broad level. A lot of people just checking the box because it’s part of the job description. It’s a part of the deliverable. They don’t want to lose their job. They don’t want to get in trouble. So they do what they need to do to get by. The best way I can put it, that irritates me. Let’s just leave it there.

Kyla:

Well, and it’s interesting because what you’re saying or what I’m hearing is a non-response is a response. When you don’t reply to people or you don’t tell them that you’ve heard them, that in itself is a response. I think Priya said that in the chat here, she said, “You’re just telling them we don’t care. We don’t care.” It’s interesting though, because I know that a lot of… We’ve seen this on the measurement side. So Bananatag does all of these metrics with emails. So you get overnights and all this other stuff, we definitely see with some communicators. This is not to put them down, but some people are afraid of getting that feedback. They’re afraid of getting those numbers because they don’t want to see the bad stuff.

                They don’t want to see that they might not be doing the best job or that there’s room for improvement. But our CMO, Chris Wagner, he always calls it. He always explained it as like, you’re afraid of the bad poop, but it’s a golden opportunity, right? You can only go up, even if the feedback is bad, even if the numbers are abysmal. What a great opportunity you can only go up, you can only improve. So it takes a little bit of coaxing, I think.

AJ:

I didn’t mean to cut you off, but you know, what’s interesting about that. I’m always curious of why. Again, I get really deep into psychology. I’m always curious of why a CEO or CMO or COO or one of the executives, or even a manager. Why wouldn’t you want to unpack the negative? For me, I get excited about the negative. I get excited when I get a call from, I wont disclose the name. I get a call, this is a real story, I get a call from someone that is completely stressed out to the point where there may be tears coming. I get excited about that moment to go into that one-on-one, having thoughtful conversation. Or have a dialogue over email, or have a dialogue via Zoom, whatever the case is going to be. I get excited about that because now I know that I built enough of a safe place for them to at least come to me with that information. Because here’s the other thing that I’ve been noticing too, is that you’re putting out these surveys, you’re utilizing these tools, right?

                That you guys have and a lot of other brands have as well, right? But you guys don’t even have, unless you guys, the brands don’t even have enough of that emotional glue to actually get true empathetic feedback, actual insights, right? You’re getting, I like to call PR fluff responses that in some cases may not actually bring value. So I don’t know. Again, from a psychological perspective, I would to kind of unpack at some point in my own mind, why certain people kind of shy away from the negative. I want to lean into it. I’m excited about. I want that stuff.

Kyla:

I think that’s something that we all in, no matter what our profession or realm, definitely we could all lean into it a little bit more and see how we can improve. But AJ, I wanted to talk a little bit about buy-in, you’ve talked about it a lot, and there’s a reason for that. One of the things I want to know from your perspective, is internal comms really less sexy than an external comms? Is that why we don’t get as much buy-in?

AJ:

It may be less sexy. I will agree with that. It may be a little less sexy, but I would say it’s… Let me throw it back to you guys. Actually, what do you think is more important? If you ask what you really put your finger on it, what do you say was more important? And then I’ll give you my answer.

Adam:

Well, I’ll completely steal the answer from Priya Bates who is watching today and we see her in the chat and I’ll paraphrase her badly. She wrote a post that was comparing your relationship with your internal audience versus external to marriage versus dating. So when you think about it, that way, the internal is more important because that’s the relationship that is harder to get right, because you can’t take them for granted they’re going to be there forever. If you don’t get that right, that can become an external problem.

AJ:

Bingo. Yep. I couldn’t agree more. Internal is more, it’s definitely less sexy because there’s a lot more scary stuff there. Again, going back to what we talked about before, there’s a lot of bad, there’s a lot of good, there’s a lot of gray, there’s a lot of things to unpack. It gets a little cluttered there, but I guess a little emotional at times, but the internal definitely is much more important. From a buy-in perspective, I see this a lot in the internal comms community, as well as the traditional HR community. A lot of practitioners… I have a little bit of advantage of my career is the two brands that I started, the advising that I’m doing. I’m happy I started those two brands and now I’m purposely doing the advising on marketing, branding, operations and other aspects of entrepreneurship.

                Because I think that’s part of the issue, right? A lot of internal comms or traditional HR practitioners, they may not know a lot of those things like the back of their hand. And executives at the highest level, may subconsciously look to them as stay in your lane here, stay in a little box, do what you do best, any other data, any other information you have, I really don’t want to hear it. Or I’m not going to lie to come to this table and talk about it. So for me, I’ve always said this, if you’re a 55, 60, or if you’re 30 or if you’re 20, just jumping into the space, try to find different ways to volunteer, raise your hand. And to have two week shadowing opportunities for hour, two hours a day in other buckets of the company and start to get to know those individuals and start to gain their trust and gain their respect. That’s the way for me, how it’s worked well. I’ve seen other people use that tactic as well.

Adam:

I love it. Now time is flying. So we’re going to come back to this in just a minute, but we’re down to our last five minutes. Don’t know how that happened and we all know what that means. It’s time for the Bananatag tool tip of the day. AJ you’ve been like full of insight today. It’s been awesome. What tip would you share with the audience today?

AJ:

I want to go back to the surveys, actually. I know we kind of already talked about that, but I really want to hit home on a tactic before the actual tool of the survey, right? You have to have that emotional glue in that buy-in. You have to have that relationship. Again, if you’re running the department here or if you’re running the department of HR, if you’re an executive at the highest level, leverage the lower level managers. Leverage the other advisors, the other support in that brand. So build the internal relationships at a lower level and allow that to scale up.

                If internally people don’t have a… If they don’t feel you actually care about them and pardon my French, but just give a shit, then that’s an issue, right? That’s a problem. Because again, if there’s not that emotional glue there, then when you actually go to implement the amazing pool of these surveys and other avenues, that’ll be problematic. And then I’ll just slide one more in there. Internal podcasting, it’s a real thing guys. A lot of brands are finally starting to think about it. I see you clapping there. What’s what’s going on?

Adam:

I think we talk about it less than any communication channel internally. I think it’s such a great idea.

AJ:

Internal podcasting guys, entertainment and education blended in one, find it doesn’t always have to be the CEO or the person that is the best at the role, it can be a very entertaining employee paired with someone at the highest level that can bring a lot of the tactics and the information. And then a very entertaining employee that just brings a lot of energy, has great relationships internally within the community of the culture. You kind of want it to be a podcast that people are literally looking forward to, to get some good laughs on the ride home. And then also to get that good information that you want to drive home as well.

Adam:

I love it. Honestly, AJ, I think we should have you back just to talk about that specifically. It’s such a good topic. I’m going to give a few announcements and then come back. Next week on the show, we’re delighted to have a few dynamic guests on the show from London, UK, Kathryn Kneller. I think I said that wrong executive coach and founder of Internal Comms Mastery. And from Ottawa, Canada, Andrea Greenhous, founder, author, and chief internal communication strategist at Vision2Voice Communications. And we’re very excited that as of today, you never have to miss a show again. You can sign up to get access to our previously recorded episodes, morning show, expert content and upcoming guest info and reminders. So Emily from Bananatag from our team will post a link to that in the chat so that you can sign up.

Kyla:

Awesome. If you’re communicating to employees and wondering if anyone is reading your emails or you want to get that feedback that were talking about with AJ today, without having to launch a huge survey, Bananatag actually offers embedded pulse surveys. So you can put them right in your emails. There are one question surveys they’re fully customizable. So you can track anything from sentiment to whether people understood things, star ratings, really anything, and you can also enable commenting. So you can get that qualitative feedback as well, giving people the opportunity to actually make your internal channels a little bit more, two way. If you’re interested in seeing these features in action, check out the demo, link in the chat and we can show you all of that cool stuff and more. So AJ you’ve been great. This has been an absolute delight. What a treat. Thank you so much for coming on.

AJ:

I appreciate it. Yeah.

Kyla:

Do you have any parting words for our audience today?

AJ:

Any parting words? I actually don’t. I think I said a lot. I think I said a lot. I’ve done a little bit of a deep dive into what you guys are doing. I’m actually going to get really excited about using your product. There’s a lot of cool things there on the pulse side of things. Yeah just guys, just try to find a way, I think the internal podcasting is something that really is there, that a lot of people are not taking advantage of. And then that emotional glue, I’m a big fan of it. I talk a lot about it on my podcast. Just try your best to really build those true relationships, because I think you’re going to get a lot out of the surveys and you’ll be able to actually implement the data that you get from those surveys and know that it’s true because you have real relationships.

Kyla:

Fantastic. Great advice. Great episode guys, if I might say so myself. Thank you, everyone for joining us. We’ll be back here on Wednesday. Have a great weekend. Take care of yourself, have a break this weekend. And remember we’re all in this together. You got this and we’ll see you next week. Bye.

Adam:

Bye.

Kyla:

See you.

Adam:

Side note, the vote is in and it seems people are hoping the smallest dinosaur would be the little baby Raptors.

Kyla:

Baby Raptors.

AJ:

Baby raptors. Okay. That’s super cool.

Adam:

I kind of want one.

Kyla:

What? No, have you not seen Jurassic park? You won’t want a raptor.

AJ:

Oh God. Oh gosh.

Careers in Communications with Angee Linsey

Summary

Angee Linsey was on the show this week to chat about the effect COVID-19 is having on the careers of communication professionals. Though the future is uncertain, Angee highlighted the prospect of more opportunities for those communicators who are measuring and demonstrating their impact during these troubled times.

Resources

Her book Dare to Be Deliberate
The Dare to Be Deliberate Podcast
Career Action Plan
Linsey Careers Recruitment and Coaching
Values / Vision Exercise

Transcript

Kyla:

Good morning and welcome. I’m Kyla Sims.

Adam:

I’m Adam Briefer. And you’re watching the Bananatag Morning Show. It’s the show with the best countdown music in the game.

Kyla:

It’s true. But, depending on where you’re tuning in from, it may not be your morning. It may be your lunch, it may be your happy hour. But regardless, you’ll find us here every Wednesday and Friday at 9:00 AM Pacific, 12:00 PM Eastern. And we’ll be here talking to communicators from around the world about what it’s like communicating during COVID-19, how to leverage what’s happening right now for your career and get some tips and tricks as well.

Adam:

Absolutely. Now, we see you in the comments tuned in. Hi, Kristen. Hi, everyone who is with us today. So say hi, tell us where you’re tuning in from, ask questions throughout the show. We have an amazing guest. And meanwhile, you may have noticed that guest, Angee Lindsey is with us today. Angee Lindsey is a recruiter and career coach. She’s also the President of Lindsey Careers, which is all about how to hire, get hired and manage your career with intention. So she’s going to be an awesome guest. She’s also the host of the Dare to Be Deliberate podcast, which are five minute episodes with tips for how you can be more intentional in your career. Today, she joins us from our home in Seattle, Washington. Please welcome, Angee Lindsey.

Angee:

Hey, everybody.

Adam:

Hello.

Kyla:

Awesome. Well, it’s so great to have you, Angee. It’s good to see you again. You were actually one of our first Comms Lab speakers, so it’s so nice to be able to do this. Something like this with you again, I know that everybody’s going to love it. You’ve got lots of good stuff to say, but before we get into that, what do you got in your cup?

Angee:

Well, I have a daily split shot latte from my favorite coffee shop that’s right behind my house called, Firehouse Coffee. Little plug for them if you’re in Seattle.

Kyla:

Nice. I love it. That’s great. So today we’re going to be chatting about how organizations are shifting from crisis to transformation and what that looks like for internal communicators and how to situate yourself in the midst of this crisis for your career, which I think a lot of communicators are thinking about right now. But before we get into that, the serious business, let’s get to know you just a little bit better.

Adam:

That’s right, Angee. You know what’s coming. It’s the segment that we like to call, Getting to know you. You’ve got 30 seconds on the clock. We get to ask you anything that we want and you just have to sit back and answer the first thing that comes to mind. Sound good?

Angee:

Okay. This is the part that has me nervous.

Adam:

You’ll do perfect.

Kyla:

You’ll do great.

Adam:

I love it. All right, Angee. First question. What was your first professional job?

Angee:

Professional job? I worked at the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan as a communications professional. Unless you want to count the Army as a professional job. I joined the Army right high school.

Kyla:

I did not know that.

Angee:

Oh, yeah.

Kyla:

That’s great. What’s your middle name?

Angee:

Lee.

Adam:

Does Seattle really rain as much as they say?

Angee:

No, it’s all a myth to keep people out.

Kyla:

If you could travel anywhere right now to go on a vacation, where would you go?

Angee:

Portugal.

Adam:

Should I eat the pie that’s in my fridge for breakfast, yes or no?

Angee:

Absolutely.

Kyla:

And what’s the best career advice that you’ve ever received?

Angee:

Oh, goodness. The answer is always no, if you don’t ask the question.

Kyla:

Spicy. I like it.

Adam:

Good answer. Now, since we’re talking about careers today, we might have to circle back to one of those first answers, the Army, in a little bit. But to get us started, Angee, so glad to talk to you today. The topic of careers is one that we haven’t necessarily been able to dive into too much lately. So it’s a real treat. So let’s ask your first question. You’re a recruiter, you’re a career coach, you help people be intentional with your careers. But, what does that mean?

Angee:

Well, I believe that we tend to think about our careers at one of two times. When we’re miserable or when we need a job. We’re out of a job and we need a job. And I really believe that we should be thinking about our careers all the time. Not obsessively, but there are things that you can do. Just little tiny things that just help you move through your career in the direction that you want to go more smoothly. You bring on champions that will help you get where you go, where you want to go. And I think that learning how to do those things early in your career will elevate you throughout your career. That’s what I mean by it.

Kyla:

We have some people in the chat here. We’ve got someone thanking you for your military service. Of course, thank you. And then we’ve got Gabriel saying, “It does rain that much.” He’s contradicting what you’ve said. I don’t know.

Angee:

What just did that so that he wouldn’t come back. Right?

Kyla:

Yes, of course.

Adam:

Gabriel. So what’s one step that someone can take now if they want to be more intentional in their career?

Angee:

Well, there’s lots of things you can do. But I think the one thing that is one of the most important things is really nurturing your network. And so I say for everybody, figure out a little, create a little habit. Like every morning, jump on LinkedIn. And don’t just like what other people say, actually send a private note. Just make a commitment to send a private note to at least a couple of people every day. That is just a genuine, authentic, congratulations or, “Just wanted to say hello. I saw your post. And it made me think of you.” Just acknowledge other people’s presence. And then once a week, try and just reach out and have a catch up call with somebody just to kind of strengthen that relationship. And once a month, once we are able to start going out for lunch or coffee again, go have coffee or lunch with someone in your network who’s not your coworker that you sit next to and have lunch with all the time.

Adam:

Kyla, [crosstalk 00:00:11:23]. Go on.

Kyla:

I’m sorry. Go ahead, Adam.

Adam:

I was just going to say, Kyla knows that I like listening to audio books that are narrated and pretending that I read. One of the ones I’ve been listening to is Michelle Obama’s, Becoming. And she talks about wanting to get out of her corporate law job and into something that felt more meaningful for her. But not knowing what that was. And so she spent months and months just talking to anybody she could in any kind of area to learn what would resonate. So it’s interesting. I think that’s kind of what you’re describing.

Angee:

Absolutely. I mean, I think the power of curiosity is another thing that’s going to propel your career, because I just always find it interesting how people kind of ended up where they are professionally and what twists and turns their career paths took. And I know I kind of geek out on it just because it’s what I do for a living. But I really think it’s interesting. Everybody has a good story and you learn so much from it. And you discover really cool jobs that you didn’t even know existed that can change your career path.

Kyla:

And it’s really interesting, I asked this question in a comms unity a couple of weeks ago. I asked what everybody’s background was, how they got into comms. And it’s so funny, so many people didn’t even know that comms was really a thing. But they ended up there. And all sorts of different backgrounds, which is so interesting. It really speaks to the profession that you… Not have to, but there’s definitely space to be a jack-of-all-trades and specialize in all different kinds of things. And it’s very attractive. One thing I also learned from comms unity yesterday, Jacinda, who is the Prime Minister of New Zealand. She has a background in comms.

Angee:

Really?

Kyla:

Hey, you could be Prime Minister of a country.

Angee:

That’s awesome. And she knows how to stay cool on camera. Did you see her the other day when the earthquake happened?

Kyla:

Yeah. Bless. Bless. She’s amazing.

Adam:

I saw that with the sound off at first and you really, if you just watch her, it’s barely, barely, she barely shakes. Very good.

Angee:

We’re having a bit of a shake or something like that.

Kyla:

That’s amazing. So one of the shifts that we’ve seen during COVID-19 is that organizations are finally recognizing the impact of internal comms. So what does that mean for people in the profession and what does that mean for their careers?

Angee:

Well, yes, thankfully, right? I mean, I think that internal comms has been elevated in recent years. I’m thrilled for that. But especially now, companies are recognizing that their most important stakeholder are their employees. And as we’re moving from this crisis mode into a transformational mode, and everything I’m reading, and one of my podcasts last week was an interview. And John Oneida talked about how this transformational period for organizations is not going to be a quick event. It’s going to be multi-year. And it’s going to require some phenomenal, not only communications to employees as they return to offices or continue to work from home. But then also what does that mean for the culture of corporate… The corporate culture when everybody is scattered and working from home? How do you maintain the culture of the organization? That’s going to require some really heavy lifting on the communicators part.

Kyla:

Yeah. And it’s not… You see in tech companies all the time, it’s about the ping pong table and the free beer or whatever. But, how are you supposed to do that when everybody’s working remotely or scattered? So it really comes down to what are the values of your organization? How do you make decisions? How do you organize? How do you treat people? Which I think when you look at a lot of these big organizations, when you really put people to the fire of these organizations, put their toes in the fire, it’s like, you might not measure up. You’ve been spending lots of money on these perks, but how you treat people, or your management style, or the way that you compensate people is just not up to task. So it should be a very interesting, interesting time.

Angee:

For sure. Yeah. And communicators, I think this is really an opportunity, I think for communicators to shine. Because for those people who can come in with a point of view and really have a seat at the table and talk about strategies that are going to help those organizations transform. They’re the ones who are going to rise. If you’re going to sort of sit back and not really talk about what you could possibly contribute to the organization during this time, you’re going to get lost in the weeds. So definitely step up, show your point of view and show how you can help the transformation. Because this is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to communicators really affecting the bottom line of a business.

Adam:

That’s a really good topic. So you talked about internal comms has gotten more and more prevalent in the last few years. But moving forward, coming out of this, we have to hope that now that we’re really on a widespread scale, seeing the value of internal comms around the world, that that will have a ripple effect moving forward. And then maybe there will be a bit of a shift towards greater focus on that moving forward. So how can communication professionals be a part of ushering in that kind of change in your point of view?

Angee:

I think that communicators are going to have to be more agile than ever. If you’ve been primarily a PR person, media relations person, you need to bone up on your internal comms chops. If you’ve only been an internal comms person, it’s really going to be to your benefit, we all know this anyway, internal is external and external is internal. Nothing is only in one side of the spectrum there. So it’s really important to be as broad as you can be. But I just think sharpening those internal skills is going to be the critical factor. And understand the language of the business. We know this already, but if you can really get to the heart of the business goals and how you can help communicate to employees to achieve that, that’s where it’s going to work out.

Adam:

Now, speaking of organization and business goals, we’ve got someone who really should be a journalist, or a PI or something, Blaze Tracy. It’s the best name. So Blaze says, “Employee first is my philosophy as well. I’ve seen employee communications jammed into the marketing team or as an afterthought stuck in the HR group. Where do you think internal comms best sits in the hierarchy of an organization?”

Angee:

Okay, this is my opinion only. I’m going to be like Oprah. I’m only going to say my opinion. I absolutely feel like having communications under a very senior communication leader who reports to the CEO is the ideal situation. Of course, that internal comms person is going to just work side-by-side with their HR team. If they’re working on employer brand stuff, they’re probably going to be very close connection with the marketing side too. But they need to work… Communications is one strategy. Your internal and external messaging is the same. And if you have internal comms sitting over with HR, and they’re not part of the broader comm strategy, that’s not going to work out. That’s not the best situation. So I say, put everybody under comms and work closely, cross-functionally

Adam:

Hear, hear. Now, when we come out of all this, we’ll face a different challenge, which is both in our organizations. And when we look for new work, we’ll have to illustrate the impact that we as internal communicators have made. Can you talk a bit about your advice in this area?

Angee:

Well, from a career perspective, I can’t give advice on how to do that. But I can say from a career perspective, measuring your work matters and being able to demonstrate how you moved the dial in any way, shape or form. When you’re talking to the C-suite, they all have measurements. The CFO has measurements, the CMO has measurements. So what are the measurements that you need? And track the progress, whether it’s doing pulse surveys, or full employee surveys, focus groups, whatever the case may be. Make sure that you’re tracking your progress.

Adam:

Now, for internal comms, what kinds of measurements have you seen people regularly incorporate into their work to do just that? Now, you’ve mentioned a couple focus groups, pulse surveys, which are great. Obviously, through Bananatag, we’re big advocates of regular pulse surveys. Any other advice that you’d give to folks who are operating as internal communicators and want to demonstrate that value?

Angee:

Well again, I’m not an expert on that particular side of the fence, because I’m more about the career side. So I’ll just say, know how to talk about the measurements that you’ve used. And then know how to tell the story behind the measurement. Data’s only good if you have insights to go with it. And so that’s where communicators shine. And that’s going to also cross over when you’re interviewing for jobs or talking to your boss about moving up to the next level within an organization. It’s really just showing what you’ve done and telling the story behind it.

Kyla:

And I’m curious, so obviously with COVID, there’s been this light sort of shown on internal communications and internal communicators. And there is a lot of people losing their jobs right now. I mean, thankfully I don’t think it’s as bad for communicators, because they’re seen as essential in these organizations right now. But if people are looking to get into communications, how do they buff up their skills? You’ve talked about networking before, but what should they be focusing on if they want to get into comms?

Angee:

So are you thinking of someone that’s already mid career or just newly minted?

Kyla:

I would say mid career. Yeah.

Angee:

Well, I think that, like you said earlier when people are networking and they sort of stumble into communications, I think you have to have some basic skills, of course. Excellent writing skills are top of the list for me and for the hiring leaders that I work for. Writing is essential. I think people sometimes think of communications as a fun kind of career. And I plan all of our holiday parties for whatever. And that’s not really what communications necessarily is. So definitely strong writing. And really being able to connect the dots, because I think one skill set that communicators bring is they have a lens of how messages land on stakeholders. And so having that kind of skill to connect the dots of what’s happening, how are you telling that story? And how is that story going to land on the key stakeholders, whomever they are?

Kyla:

And I was reading, I think it was yesterday, I’m subscribed to the Reagan Communications newsletter. And they’ve been doing a daily newsletter since COVID came out. It’s an incredible, actually everyone should go subscribe to it. It’s really great. They have lots of good stuff in there. But one of the articles that they posted to is saying that they’re expecting that organizations that are not doing so hot in communicating or treating their employees well during COVID can expect some big attrition when people have the opportunity to leave. So if you’re a communicator, and you’re working for an organization, and you’re not feeling super hot about what’s going on and you don’t feel like you have a voice, when do you know it’s time to leave? And how do you take that next step, especially when things do seem really uncertain right now? And it doesn’t feel like maybe there’s a guaranteed job at the other end of things.

Angee:

Yeah. I think it’s such an individual decision just because we all have circumstances. We have bills to pay, mouths to feed, things like that. If it were four months ago, I am a big proponent of create your career vision, and then make it real, and figure out your dream job. And right now I’m telling people, you might have to take a job, not the job. And we have to survive. And that’s just the reality of things. And it is an uncertain time. But I would say that whatever job you take or whatever job you’re in, make the most of it, expand your skills the best you can, use it as a stepping stone. Even some people are taking roles right now when it’s a step back a little bit from where they were just because they need to have employment.

                And I think that’s going to be fine too. If you’re making a career decision that may not be the perfect resume builder, don’t worry about it. This is a time where you’ll get a hall pass. And it will be fine to skip back to where you were when things kind of calm down a little bit. And use this time to just really bone up on whatever skills you need to sharpen. And so I guess that’s what I would say about that.

Kyla:

Yeah. That’s great advice. That’s great advice.

Adam:

If you’re trying to explain the blip like that in your resume, the answer is 2020. Very defensible.

Angee:

Exactly. Exactly. I had some college students, I was talking to college students that didn’t get internships this year because internships just disappeared. And one of them said to me, “Well, I’ve been told since I started college that if I don’t have an internship between my junior and senior year, I won’t get a job next year.” And I was like, “No, 2020.”

Adam:

Yeah.

Angee:

No one will blame you.

Adam:

Absolutely.

Angee:

But, if you’re in a job that you hate, I think I didn’t really answer the question. If you’re in a job you hate, and you’re feeling like your employer’s not appreciating you. Is it time to make a move? If you have an opportunity to make a move, sure. But, know that companies are taking a long time to hire. And some of them have positions on hold just because they don’t have the bandwidth to even bring somebody on right now.

Adam:

I’m trying to think about onboarding in a different kind of world. Yeah. So we’ll have a chance to get to your audience, comments and questions in just a minute. We do have Sophia saying, “Very fresh perspective, Angee. Thank you.” We agree. But for now you, one of the things you help people do is get work. But for people who are already in jobs, what are some of the mistakes that you see, or some of the challenges that you see your clients in internal comms facing? And how do you work through those with them?

Angee:

Tell me more. That’s such a broad question. I don’t want to go off on a tangent on something.

Adam:

Incredibly. Are there any examples, any anecdotes that you can share of when you’re working with clients to help them be more intentional in their careers, any barriers that they face to doing that and how do you help them?

Angee:

I think one thing is sometimes we get blind spots about ourself. I mean, self-awareness is so critical in how to be intentional in anything in your life. But if you are… Just demand like, “Hey, I’ve been here two years and I want to get promoted right now.” And you’re going to your boss saying, “I deserve a promotion.” I think this is a common thing people think. Well, I’ve been here a certain amount of time. Therefore, I should get this promotion. And I hear that a lot… People come to me a lot to work on how to level up their career.

                And so we create a strategy on how to have a good career conversation with your boss. Find out where you are as it relates to that next level up. Where are the gaps in your abilities, or experiences, or skillsets? And then how can your boss become your champion and help you develop those, fill in those gaps, gain the experience you need so that you are eligible for that promotion. That way you’re showing a business case basically on why you deserve that. It’s not just because you’ve been there a certain amount of time. It’s because you’re doing the work that really elevates you to that next level.

Kyla:

Well, that’s great. And this is actually a great transition. We’re down to our last seven minutes with you, Angee.

Angee:

Okay.

Kyla:

And you know what that means. It’s the Bananatag Tool Tip Of The Day.

Angee:

There it is.

Kyla:

You have a great tool tip for us today that everyone’s going to love. Why don’t you tell us all about it?

Angee:

So I’ve sent you the career action plan. And basically the career action plan is a document that you can just fill out. It’s what you can do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually, to be more intentional in your career. It gives you a few little ideas, but also just think about the things that are important to you. Annually, one of the things I do to be intentional in my career is I re-look at my career vision. And I rewrite it. And every year I kind of look at it, did it come true? What do I need to work on? Where is it? And once a quarter I meet with at least one of my mentors. Because that’s really important for me to maintain that relationship. So what do you want to do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually?

Kyla:

That’s great.

Adam:

I love that.

Kyla:

So we’ll provide a link to that. I think we’ll put it in the chat. And everybody can get their paws on that. Very cool.

Adam:

Yeah. We’ll link to Angee’s website where you can find out more information in general. So a few announcements before we come back to you, Angee. Friday on the show, we have Anthony Vaughn, host of the E1B2 podcast. A podcast designed to put employees first and business second. We’ve been so lucky to get amazing guests like Angee and Anthony on the show. I think we’re at something like the show 22 right now. It’s just crazy how fast it’s gone. And if you like the show, help us grow. Give us a like on Twitter, @Bananatag. Follow us on LinkedIn so you never miss a show. And every now and then if you want to feel compelled to share one of our posts about the show, we wouldn’t be mad at you.

Kyla:

And of course, we’re very excited today to announce that Bananatag is officially more than email. That’s right. This week we’re launching our multichannel features, which means that we’re now integrating with third-party employee communication channels, like Slack and MS Teams. That means you can create and schedule messages to Slack. And soon you’ll be able to integrate with Microsoft Teams as well. And that’s all on top of our amazing collaboration features that have already launched, which means you can stop the back and forth and all of those approval chains and just get everybody in that darn email. Get everybody putting their content in, editing, doing what they got to do so you can make your content better. And you can get it out faster. In our most collaborative email designer on the market. And if you’re interested in that, definitely check out the chat.

                We’re going to have a link there to have a demo with one of our account executives. A friendly member of our Bananatag team who is going to show you all of that cool stuff. And all the other amazing features that would just take me forever to explain right now. So just go get a demo. It’s going to be great. I promise. Angee, you’ve been an absolute delight. It is always a pleasure to talk to you. It’s always a pleasure to connect. I hope that we get to connect in person sooner rather than later. But, do you have any final words before we leave?

Angee:

Thank you for having me here. I love Bananatag. And I love all of the people that… Internal communications is such a fantastic field. Every time I get a search that’s for internal communicators, I get to meet some of the most incredible talent. And so thank all of you out there for being like that.

Kyla:

That’s great. Yes. Internal communicators are the best. I feel like I’m so lucky. I didn’t know much about internal communications before I started working at Bananatag. And then of course, like as a writer, I started obviously doing research and talking to people in internal communications. And I’m like, this has got to be the best audience to create content for ever. Just like the friendliest, happiest, greatest, most appreciative bunch.

Angee:

They really are.

Kyla:

They’re really awesome. Well, thank you everyone for tuning in. It’s always a treat. We’re going to be back here on Friday. Make sure you’re here. Go ahead into the chat, go back and check out all those links that we’ve put up there. There’s so much good stuff to check out. And of course, thank you for tuning in. We love having you and we’ll see you on Friday. Remember we’re all in this together. Take deep breaths. You can do this and we’ll see you next time. Bye.

Angee:

Bye.

Adam:

Bye. So a lot of us had police sirens in our background today.

Kyla:

Yeah.

Adam:

What’s going on out there?

Kyla:

It’s a wild world.

Angee:

Hey, my dog didn’t bark. That’s the good news.

Adapting IABC during COVID-19 with Patrick Armstrong, SCMP

Summary

IABC Board Member, Patrick Armstrong SCMP joined us on the show from Australia to chat about the effect COVID-19 has had on membership, how his local chapter is getting creative about connecting communication professionals amid the restrictions, and the opportunities that newly remote IABC events are highlighting that will stick well into the future.

Resources

Microsoft Teams

Transcript

Kyla:

Hello and welcome, I’m Kyla Sims.

Adam:

And I’m Adam Brayford, and you’re watching the Bananatag morning show. It’s a show by Bananatag in the morning.

Kyla:

But, but depending on where you’re tuning in from, it might not be your morning. It might be your afternoon, it might be your happy hour, but regardless you can find us here every Wednesday and Friday at nine Pacific and 12 Eastern. And we’ll be talking to communicators from around the world about what it’s like being a communicator during COVID-19. We’ll talk about best practices, tips, and tricks, and hopefully have some, a few laughs as well.

Adam:

And meanwhile, you may have noticed that we’re joined by quite a dapper gentleman, Patrick Armstrong SCMP. He’s a senior advisor in communications and stakeholder engagement. He is also treasurer on the board of directors for IABC New South Wales. And he is an experienced people leader, driving measurable communication for organizations to achieve their business people and cultural strategies, particularly through times of change. So he’s an excellent guest for us today. Today he joins us from his home in Sydney, Australia, Patrick. Welcome.

Patrick:

Hello guys. How are you?

Adam:

[crosstalk 00:02:11]. So good to have you on now, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room, this is our first episode that’s not truly live. Patrick is joining us from the future to record an episode in the past. It’s like, an X-Men movie or something because of time zone, we’re recording this on our Thursday and we’ll be posting it Friday morning.

Adam:

And as it airs Kyla, and I will be in the chat, engaging with you at home. So we are here. We are talking to you, but we are prerecorded. So you’ll see members of our Bananatag family in the chat saying, hi, commenting and asking questions throughout. Now, Patrick, it’s so good having you on today. You and I first met at IBC’s leadership institute conference in Long Beach, California, a year or so ago. I think.

Adam:

Yeah, I had, I had just gotten my SCMP certification after that terrifying exam. At that point, had you already gotten yours?

Patrick:

No, I had not. No. I thought I’d take the opportunity while I was there to actually do the exams. We hadn’t hadn’t hosted any in Australia at that point. So if they were going to try and do our first one here in New South Wales later on this year, so amazing experience there, right? Yeah. Three hours was, was quite grueling.

Adam:

Yeah. Yeah. I took me right up to the last second. I don’t know about you.

Kyla:

Well, before we get into things, we do have to acknowledge another elephant in the room. Patrick, has anyone ever told you that you kind of look like the third Wilson brother?

Patrick:

You know what? I’ve never had one, which was very strange. I’ve had very strange ones like Sean Penn [inaudible 00:03:48] never got, but I’ve no, I’ve never had that one Wilson brother, there you go. I can kind of see that one. Actually.

Kyla:

You must just have one of those famous faces. Everybody thinks that you would think somebody [crosstalk 00:04:00].

Kyla:

So one more thing before we get going, I would love to know what’s in your cup today. What do you got in your cup this morning?

Patrick:

Morning here? The virality of New Zealand. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a strong skim flat white. [crosstalk 00:04:16] If that means I’m not sure that’s a flat white is very much an Australian beverage. It’s kind of a double shot with milk, essentially, a cappuccino with less froth and without chocolate.

Adam:

[crosstalk 00:04:33] I love that when I’m not having a low class instant beverage and I’m actually paying for it, it is a skim, flat white it’s, that’s a good choice.

Patrick:

Ironic in North America has. I didn’t realize that

Kyla:

It has, but I think I know that it’s very popular in Vancouver, but I think it’s because we’re the second we have probably just about as many Australians as Australia at this point,

Patrick:

[crosstalk 00:04:56] But I was in Canada for a little while and I couldn’t believe the Aussie accent in Whistler. It was like being home.

Kyla:

Oh yeah. It’s the capital of Australia. Whistler is the capital of Australia. This was something that we know.

Adam:

Just announced. You’ve heard it here.

Kyla:

Yeah. Okay. So let’s get down to business day. We’re going to be chatting about navigating COVID-19 as an IBC board member and the effect that has had on all communications and communicators, especially in Australia. Since we don’t really, I mean, I feel like maybe it’s the time zone thing, but we talked to a lot of people in North America. We talked to people in the UK, but we’re going to find out what’s going on down under, but first let’s get to know you just a little bit better.

Adam:

That’s right. It is our favorite segment and we’ve surveyed some of our viewers and we know you like it too. It is the getting to know you rapid fire questions, rounds. So here’s, here’s the rules. You got 30 seconds. We got questions. You got answers.

Adam:

And it all starts right here. Patrick, what is your favorite kind of pizza?

Patrick:

Anything with a pepperoni and salami.

Kyla:

Star Wars or star Trek?

Patrick:

Star Wars, hands down.

Adam:

[crosstalk 00:06:10] Well, we’ll go with it. Should we end the interview? It’s done. [crosstalk 00:06:16] All right. Next question. Could you live as a vegan?

Patrick:

Absolutely not.

Kyla:

If you had to choose a different first name for yourself, what would it be?

Patrick:

Something bold and [inaudible 00:06:33] Armstrong. Perhaps. There we go.

Adam:

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Patrick:

Owen Wilson, according to you. He’s got the money.

Kyla:

That’s great. What’s the best thing about working in communications?

Patrick:

I like the variety of it all. I think it’s one of those jobs where you never know what every day is going to bring. You know, it brings up probably all the skills that I had in my life from filmmakers, the strategist, to writers, to whatever. I love the fact that we’ve got so much scope in what we do and, and being at the pointy end of things. When most of the time in the organizations that we work in.

Adam:

Absolutely. Well, thank you for being a good sport, Patrick. Now that we’re well acquainted, we know all the important stuff, Star Wars, Star Trek, we’ll come back to that later. Let’s get down to it. Now you’re a senior business communicator, although, very young, but we can call you a senior. What have your observations being on the role that we play as professionals throughout a crisis like this?

Patrick:

I think when crises hits, I think communicators really come to the for. And I think that’s know we really are at the pointy end of things when, when things like these happen. And I think for us, what I guess I’ve really seen is that we really sort of step up into that advisory role, particularly with our leadership communications as well. So I don’t think there’s a communicator alive who hasn’t dropped all they’ve done and start helping their leaders to help support the businesses, to get them through more effectively what’s been going on. I just think it’s time to sort of, to drop, to drop the BAU and move into it. There’s some really great innovative stuff as well. So again, I’ve had so many conversations with communicators saying, how do you run the Yam Jam because you don’t have any experience in video.

Patrick:

Has anyone got any experience in, all different types of video who’s using team who’s using younger, better, all these sort of stuff. I think most people are really stepping up and saying using it as a really great opportunity to, to push new things within the business as well. So I think that’s what I’ve really seen more than anything else, particularly that leadership piece. If you will, like I said, we’re going to talk about being a trusted advisor and I think the timing we’ve been crises is when really step into that role enormously as well. I think probably the biggest thing is that, we’ve never probably worked harder in our lives and I think there’s a lot of people be quite stressed in that as well. So I think it’s really important that we as communicators take a deep breath as well and look after ourselves, cause you know, we, we are very much at the pointy end of these things and I know I’ve certainly never worked harder then I have in a very long time throughout all this.

Patrick:

The most people I know are in the same boat.

Adam:

No kidding. I will admit I’ve not heard the term Yam Jam. What is this?

Patrick:

A Yam Jam. So when you jump on Yammer and you get your, senior your business leaders to go to people in real time, I love them. I mean, if you can do them well, it just gives you opportunity to break down the silos and get your leaders on there. Ask questions in real time. It’s been an hour and you spend an hour inside. They’re going to be on this time and ask any questions that you want. So it’s really good fun. Definitely worth doing it, if you’ve got the right kind of organization.

Adam:

Brilliant. I love that.

Kyla:

I know that there’s been a lot of conversations in commsunity about using things like Yammer and like that’s a great use case. I love that.

Patrick:

Yeah. Yeah. Yam jams are great. And because people are using video a lot more. I know I’m sort of a people I’ve got a background in, in video production and things of that. So people are asking me, how do you go about it? What are some of the software you use? How do you use it effectively, things like that. And I think that’s a really quick and easy way for people to get their leader messages out there. And I think video the last 10 years really become such an important medium in anyone’s armory as the communicator.

Kyla:

Absolutely. So you’re an IBC board member as well. How have you been adapting to this new way of working with IBC? Has, has it been difficult with the transition to a fully digital.

Patrick:

How I look, it’s been a shift. There’s no doubt about that. Where we have our model very much in Sydney is around a lot of face to face events. We have guest speakers, we have panels, we have all those sorts of things and we’ve just had to go, okay, well that can’t happen. But the show must go on. We got to keep satisfying our members and giving them what they need. So we have hosted some absolutely terrific online events, through things like Zoom and whatever else, which again, I wish I’ve watched as you know in Zoom, in six months, I have to say, cause it’s, it’s exploded. Right? And again, it’s a really great tool. You know, we, we have beak out chats. We had people talking, we had it also have live chat, things like that. And events have been really good. And what we’ve actually found is one of the big hindrances we have in Sydney, we’re really, we’re in big city with 5 billion people, busy transport, that kind of stuff.

Patrick:

We find that a lot of our events used to be very CBD focused. And people were saying who live, who work in the outer suburbs, things like that say, well, we can’t get to your events. How can you do something in our area? And it’s not necessarily easy for us. And I think what this is really is broken down that silo and allowed those people who haven’t been able to attend our events before to start to come and, think out event last week had something like 45 people want to, the biggest that we’ve had for a very long time. Cause people can just log in at six o’clock and just, and do it. And people, the feedback is absolutely terrific. So I think what we’re going to probably start thinking about when COVID is actually all over is, do we have to have all our events online? Does it have to have a networking van up or can it be just as effective doing it in an online medium, at least alternative events

[inaudible 00:12:27]

, but certainly part of what we now are going to start doing as a chapter.

Adam:

Yeah. We shared a we have the tool tip of the day segment. And one of our first shows was with [inaudible 00:12:37] our senior director of people and culture here at Bananatag and she shared a tip, which is an app called donut. And we’ve loaded all of our employees in there. And once a week, it randomly generates pairing. So three random members of our team are paired together. And again, several options for times they can meet for 20 minutes and a bunch of questions they can choose from and just socialize and connect. And it’s that same kind of idea, suddenly because we’re all constrained in a certain way, there’s more opportunity to get imaginative and connect with people you wouldn’t normally. So very cool.

Patrick:

Absolutely. I think it’s an amazing opportunity because I think it’s going to change the way a lot of business is done. Right. And there’s already talk around, return to work now a lot bit business saying we’ll get back to the old model we used to have, do people want to start working part time or think, when they’re always has done and dusted, there’ll be some really interesting kind of conversations to be had more broadly in the way businesses are run. I think it’s quite exciting actually. So we’ll see what next year brings.

Adam:

Absolutely. We want to say a quick hello to our friend Advita Patel. Who’s joining us on LinkedIn. Advita I’m so glad you’re not in bed. What time is it there? I don’t even know. It’s so great to have you and everyone else who’s watching on our prerecorded show. Next question for you, Patrick, we just can’t get enough academics, IBC people. So you’re also an academic. How has COVID-19 changed the way that you’re teaching and interacting with students?

Patrick:

Yeah, I mean, we had the, you know, it’s changed a lot. I have to say we very much had to midway through the first term change our whole teaching model potentially. So COVID happened. I worked with the largest universities in Australia and you know, with week four, we’ve got a lot of international students and they’re saying I have to go home. I, my work abroad scheme has been canceled. I’ve now going back to Sweden, the US, Malaysia, China, India, whatever, all over the world.

Patrick:

And then we’ve had to re-read our entire course. And a lot of the course that I was particularly teaching was around class patients had 20% of your grade was turning up to class and participate in class. Obviously when people are in time zones all around the world, you can’t get up to have that structure. And so we had to really completely remodel how we, so we’re actually doing in term two to, doing videos, submissions doing, again, using the patient, like we did say on zoom to sort of chats and things like that, participating through things like that and, and really engaging students in a different kind of model a different kind of way.

Patrick:

But I think that’s going to happen pretty much I would say until at least term two and possibly later part of the year in August, October as well, but again, there’s opportunities in that, so I think it’s, it’s giving students a lot more flexibility, again, that tyranny of distance thing. I mean, most students have to travel over an hour and a half to get to university every day. So of a lot of time back to through that, that actually helps, things like mental health and stress and all those kinds of things. So I just think it’s an opportunity to, just to rethink things very broadly. And look, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think online learning will ever take over from a classroom. I don’t think that, but I, but I do think that again, it’s another one of those things where it could be used as a complimentary thing in the future to integrate into the courses and things that we teach. But yeah. I don’t think nothing ever beats face to face.

Kyla:

Yeah, absolutely. So I’m curious, you’re teaching, but obviously like as an IBC board member, you’re all navigating this stuff together. What kind of advice and tips are you giving to communicators right now to navigate through COVID-19?

Patrick:

The biggest thing that I find sometimes we communicators is that they don’t kind of know the value often that we bring. And I think that the idea or the [inaudible 00:16:40] about things that we sort of, we just often getting on with things and whatever else. But I think now the biggest advice I can have is that [inaudible 00:16:46] and say, I am an expert in this. People are looking to me to help them in these things, our senior leaders and things that aren’t communications experts, they aren’t video maker. They aren’t experts the way that we are. And they’re looking to us to really do that.

Adam:

[crosstalk 00:17:02] Oh, that’s a first, I love it.

[crosstalk 00:17:09]

Oh my goodness.

Kyla:

I love it. That’s super funny. [crosstalk 00:17:20].

Adam:

There’ve been so many opportunities for things [crosstalk 00:17:24] I’m surprised that doesn’t happen more often anyway you were saying.

Patrick:

So I think, I think that’s the real advice that I would give people is to say back yourself. You are an expert and you have got a lot to say and you have lots of offers and we’ve got skills that people don’t necessarily have in a lot of organizations. So those, those creative skills, even as well, we can make videos. We can things like you guys doing a Bananatag and innovating by doing online channels and things like this. This is all the kind of stuff that I’m talking about that we can really offer organizations. And my biggest advice to say use this an opportunity to think outside the box and try new things and do things differently.

Patrick:

And you’ll be really surprised just how receptive people in senior leadership roles are and what you might often, we often get blockers and that’s not going to work and whatever else, sometimes you just do it and then sometimes you just do things and you go, okay, Hey, it worked the world hasn’t fallen down. And so I think that’s the biggest advice I give you what is a real opportunity in this to drop the day to day tactics and innovate. I think that’s certainly what I’m doing in my area and certainly in the IBC and everything and teaching as well.

Adam:

You know, it’s interesting for creatives, I think constraints can be a catalyst for creativity. You know, if you’re operating within certain constraints, then you have to imagine how you can make absolute most of that. And it feels like that’s the opportunity for communicators to, if you’re focused and your audience are all living a shared very specific experience, this is the time to take advantage of that common understanding.

Patrick:

Hmm. Oh, I could, I couldn’t agree more. That’s exactly right. You know, innovation is bred out of adversity, isn’t it? And that’s absolutely correct. And so I think, yeah, I think all of us communicators embrace it and push there is opportunity to push the envelope a little bit.

Adam:

[crosstalk 00:19:24] Absolutely. Oops, sorry, go on.

Kyla:

Oh no. I was going to say Patrick, what you were saying about just trying things and just doing it, if there ever was a time to sort of push, senior leadership or those are those traditional blockers of things that you want to try or innovate on, like everyone is way more receptive probably than they have been ever to new ways of doing things, because we simply don’t have the choice, but also just we’re in such an uncomfortable position anyways, that it’s like, well, what is one more experiment? One more thing that we’re going to try. What does that really going to do? Especially when you get perspective on like the stakes, right? The stakes are, of course, you could try a new channel, you could try a new product, but, no one’s going to get hurt and things are not going to get worse for you. Like you can really only go up from here. Let’s be honest.

Adam:

Motto of twenty twenty

Patrick:

You’re going to play 21. It can’t get worse. Right.

Adam:

So one of the, opportunities that we talked about before, this is, in a crisis like this, sometimes when you don’t have the channels built out to reach your audience right, you can fast track that usual process that would normally take many, many months to build out a very fulsome content strategy and leverage certain channels to work for you. Maybe talk to us a little bit about what you think that looks like.

Patrick:

Yeah. I think in the last [inaudible 00:20:59] years is one of the best channels that I think that is used to communicate is now is things like teams. I think teams absolutely a terrific tool. And the office 365 suite has been game changing as far as I’m concerned in terms of what it can do. But you know, you’re doing things like Yammer, Yammer’s on there now. You’ve got, you’ve got teams, you’ve got all the different sort of regular traditional products and things like that. But I think teams have been a game changer in many ways. I pushed in every organization I’ve worked in for the last few years, [inaudible 00:21:28] it’s got the collaboration aspect to it. So insofar as you can do chat, you’ve now got, you can do, you can do video through it. You can do document sharing through it.

Patrick:

You can do all these different types of things that I think particularly when people are now working remotely, being able to sort of be able to have a one stop shop where you can sort of collaborate in lots of different types of ways. I think it’s absolutely game changing. So if you’re in an organization that uses Microsoft, I think, and you’re not using Teams. And I think there’s a real opportunity in that to push that as an agenda, because it’s got a capability, which I think is just, is, is so useful for the communicators. So yeah, that would be my biggest tip in terms of, in terms of tool.

Adam:

I love that. I know it’s funny how fast these shows go and Advita I mean, you have great comments. We have to keep featuring you today. So thank you. It was we’re going to make a couple of quick announcements and then bring it back to you Patrick, next week on the show, we have some amazing communicators and we will be sharing those with you during the live show. We’ll be revealing those. So watch for that. And you know what, while we’re here, give us a follow at Bananatag LinkedIn, Twitter as well, never miss a show, make sure that you’re following us as well.

Kyla:

Absolutely. And of course, if you’re not done with this conversation, join us in Commsunity. It’s the place to be. It’s a place to connect with communicators from around the world and experts. And we will keep talking about what it looks like returning to work and how to communicate all that. What, how you can leverage Microsoft teams or Yammer, or have a yam jam, definitely check out the link in the chat and join us there. And of course, if you’re a communicator or you’re communicating with employees right now, and you need to know if they’re reading your communications or you want to find out the content that they’re most interested in, you can now get set up with Bananatag same day. That means like real fast turnaround.

Kyla:

The best part is you don’t have to limit users, which means you can get everyone who is sending important internal communications onboard and sending beautifully branded measurable internal emails. This means that you can collaborate remotely speed up that process to get those important comms out and get real time feedback. The link for a demo is in the chat. So you can talk to one of our AEs about what Bananatag can do for you. But before we sign off, Patrick, you’ve been an absolute treat. Thank you for joining us here. You know, your morning, our afternoon, all of this chaos of scheduling and all that. I really appreciate you taking the time. Do you have any words of advice as we sign off.

Patrick:

Just keep safe and just keep doing what you’re doing and keep pushing the envelope. And yeah, and I think use the opportunity that we’ve been given here for good, I guess, and help you to think differently and change things.

Kyla:

Perfect. So you heard it here first, everybody remember we’re all in this together. You can do this, you got this, now’s the time take risks and we’ll see you here next week on Wednesday. And until then, keep safe, keep healthy and see you next time. All right, bye. [crosstalk 00:24:56].

Adam:

Word of the day, Yam Jam.

Kyla:

Yam Jam, it makes me think of like making jam with yams.

Patrick:

You can do that too. They’re great fun. They’re really good. If you’ve got kind of leaders who want to do it, they’re quite engaging, but if you’ve got a, quite a hierarchical organization through, by this to break down the hierarchy and get your senior leaders.

HR and Comms Careers with Megan Thorburn, CMP

Summary

We were lucky enough to have the past president of IABC Edmonton, Megan Thorburn, CMP join us to chat about what it’s like being an IABC Chapter president during COVID-19 and the similarities and differences of having a career in Human Resources and Communications.

Resources

The Peleton Training App

Transcript

Kyla:

Good morning and welcome. I’m Kyla Sims.

Adam:

I’m Adam Brayford. You’re watching the Bananatag Morning Show and we’re so happy to have you here with us today. Joining us with a very special guest from our local neighbourhood.

Kyla:

Yes, but depending on where you’re tuning in from this might not be your morning. It might be your lunch hour might be your happy hour, but regardless, you’ll find us here every Wednesday and Friday at 9:00 A.M. Pacific and 12:00 P.M. Eastern. And we will be here talking to communicators from around the world about what it’s been like communicating during COVID-19. We’re going to talk about tips. We’re going to talk about tricks and we’re definitely going to have some laughs.

Adam:

Absolutely. Now we see you joining us in the comments. Thank you so much. Say hi. Tell us where you’re tuning in from, tell us how you’re doing. And meanwhile, let us introduce to you our guest today, Megan Thorburn CMP. Hello. Megan is a human resources consultant from EPCOR and she also happens to be president of IABC Edmonton. She’s previously worked in comms for Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission, Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta. And more today she joins us from her daughter’s playroom in Edmonton, Alberta. Megan, welcome.

Megan:

Thank you. Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be here.

Kyla:

Now your mom is watching today. Is that right?

Megan:

That’s what I’m told, she RSVP’d. So yes.

Kyla:

What’s her name? [Marianne 00:02:48] Kostyuk. Well, good morning, [Marianne 00:00:02:52], welcome to the show.

Megan:

Hi, mom.

Kyla:

Perfect. Before we get started, we got to know what’s in your cup. Well, in my cup appropriately coming from my daughter’s playroom and my world’s okayest mom mug, I have a tasteful blonde roast with a dash of almond milk.

Adam:

Today, I also have blonde roast. Is that Starbucks?

Kyla:

Yeah.

Adam:

There you go.

Kyla:

That’s good.

Megan:

There you go. Perfect.

Adam:

Well, today we’re going to chat about shifting careers and life as an IABC president, but first we’re going to get to know you a little bit better in a segment that we like to call, if I can make the slides work.

Kyla:

“Getting To Know You”. We botched… We’re bad. We got to do vocal training and practicing.

Adam:

One of these days. All right, let’s try it again. Getting to know you.

Kyla:

People are like, “No, please stop”.

Adam:

Make it not happen. So how this works is we got 30 seconds on the clock and we get to ask you as many questions as we can to get to know you a little better. And all you have to do is just say the first thing that comes to mind. Sound good?

Megan:

Sounds frightening. I love it. Let’s do it.

Adam:

All right. First question. Cat or dogs?

Megan:

Dogs.

Kyla:

Best 90’s singer or band?

Megan:

Roxette.

Adam:

Best flavor of wings?

Megan:

Salt and pepper.

Kyla:

What’s the best thing about being an IABC president?

Megan:

Leading an awesome, awesome team.

Adam:

Equally important. What’s the best dinosaur?

Megan:

Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Kyla:

How do you feel about spiders?

Megan:

I will light a house on fire if I find one, unfortunately for my husband, it’s just the facts.

Adam:

I’ve seen you personally react to what you thought was a spider before. It was one of the great joys of my life to see that level of fright.

Megan:

Awesome.

Adam:

Thanks for your candor. All right. Great to get to know you a little bit better now that we’ve done that. Shall we get down to it?

Megan:

Sure.

Adam:

Now there’s any number of studies out there that speak to the number of times that a person typically shifts careers in their lifetime and you know, it’s, it’s no longer the norm for someone to stay with one organization for their entire career. So I don’t know what that looks like for communication pros, but you can certainly see people coming to communication from a number of different paths. For you, Megan, your path in comms recently led you to a new and different kind of opportunity, I hear.

Megan:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Adam:

Tell us about it.

Megan:

Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been in communications for over a decade now and I originally got into communications cause I noticed that at my workplace, before I went to school, I was the person who did all the bulletin boards, the newsletters and at first I thought that must, I should be a journalist, and no. So then I thought, well maybe I should go into communications. I hear that’s great. I want to make internal communications great for everybody around me and make sure everybody has the tools and things they need to do their jobs well. And so that’s what kind of led me into this path. And I’ve had a great career, a very diverse career, doing all kinds of communications, media relations and public relations, stakeholder relations, marketing communications. I’ve run the gambit. And I keep coming back to internal communications and starting to think about my next career move.

Megan:

I really started to think about wanting to move into broader leadership roles and kind of diversifying my knowledge and my skillset and in kind of talking to a lot of those around me, human resources just kind of kept cropping up as something that’d be really interesting to kind of get my fingers into. And so I have a great employer who’s incredibly supportive and it really believes in that diversity of talent. And so I was given the opportunity to jump into human resources and as internal communicators sometimes we bellyache a little bit about HR and it works both ways, but there’s so many similarities and so many ties between them, there’s that passion for interpersonal communications and interpersonal relationships. And there’s a vested interest in employees and making sure they have what they need and really kind of making people’s lives just a little bit better through doing a good job.

Megan:

So that’s kind of where I landed, where I am today and I’m loving it. Absolutely. Is it a little strange that I’m the president of a professional association chapter for communications and then I jumped ship halfway through? Likely, but I like to think-

Adam:

Traitor.

Megan:

Right? I’d like to think that’s enriched my leadership skillset in order to lead the chapter a little bit better too.

Kyla:

Well, absolutely. We see a lot of crossover with internal communications in HR. At Bananatag, we see a lot of HR professionals using our tools as well, which sort of surprised us at first, but there’s a lot of overlap and a lot of similar interests. So there’s certainly a lot of overlap there. But as you spend more time in HR, could you tell us about what’s been the same, what’s been different, that sort of stuff?

Megan:

Yeah, absolutely. I’d say in terms of what’s been the same. It was interesting. I was at the outset, very careful that when I was approaching meetings with clients very intentional that I wasn’t going into it with a communications mindset thinking I’m going to solve this, I’m going to create this communications plan. Cause it’s no longer my role. And in fact there are very capable people at my organization filling that role. And so you don’t want to be that person in the room trying to do all the things. So, I kind of mentioned it offhand to my boss that I was going to have to kind of flip my mindset a little bit and think a little bit less strategically in terms of communications. And she said, “No, actually I’d rather you didn’t. I want you to think about how things might be framed or perceived and allow that to guide you and the advice you’re giving and from an HR perspective.” And so that’s been really, really helpful in terms of having that background and knowledge and expertise.

Megan:

And so I’d say that’s a huge similarity is that there is that strategic thought that goes into everything you’re doing. Differences. Implementing programs is different than communicating them. So there’s kind of those and kind of intrinsic differences that go along with it. But again, having that knowledge kind of helps you understand both sides. And so you’re able to implement a program and then think about how somebody might communicate that down the line as well. So I’d say there’s more similarities than differences, but obviously two very fun professions in their own right.

Adam:

Absolutely. Now one of the other reasons it’s fun to catch up with you today, both you and I are going through the same experience, which is for the past 11 months or so, we’ve served as IABC chapter presidents, you of course leading the Edmonton chapter. Tell us what led you to… because a lot of our viewers are from the IABC world. What led you to get involved on a board of directors at that level?

Megan:

It kind of became a natural evolution for me. This is my seventh year on the board. I joined the board when my daughter was eight months old. And so for the entirety of her life, basically I’ve been volunteering and I’ve had the opportunity to be in a number of different roles. And if I may just really quickly plug, if you can and want to volunteer, please do because it’s a great opportunity to gain experience and any number of things you’d never normally get experience in like recruiting students and doing finances, which is something communicators don’t really get a ton of experience doing, sponsorship, and all those things. As I worked through and kind of gained experience in a number of different portfolios in talking to my colleagues, they really became kind of the natural next step in terms of having that knowledge base of the board and of the chapter and of IABC. And I’m taking that next step to kind of lead the board with that knowledge. So that’s kind of how it landed in that way, for sure.

Adam:

It’s a scary step for a lot of people, maybe not jumping onto the board, but going to that vice president, president track. It can be a several year commitment. What kind of sealed the deal at the end of the day? What made you want to go that distance?

Megan:

I think knowing what type of leader I would be and seeing that it could help shape a positive way forward for the board. We’ve been extremely lucky to have amazing and strong leaders in the past, leading up to my time. And I’m really pleased and excited for what’s to come next. And I think knowing where your fit and your approach lies in terms of that. It’s always really encouraging to know. I bring forward a much in the same as my communications approach and HR approach, bring forward a focus on interpersonal relationships and communication, I like to think that that’s really informed my leadership approach in terms of the board. And I think it was the right time for my personality. I think there’s always a different time in terms of different chapters and the different things that they face and the different leaders they need.

Megan:

I felt like what I brought to the table would be helpful right now.

Kyla:

Absolutely. And you’ve been reading through a very interesting and unprecedented time is everyone saying? And so COVID-19 has disrupted businesses for sure, but also not-for-profits like IABC and we know like with IABC World Conference, we’re going virtual, but how has this impacted your chapter specifically and how have you had to adapt?

Megan:

It’s definitely impacted us. Edmonton is one of the largest chapters in the world and any IABC’ers who are likely on the channel are going to start rolling their eyes soon because we are known as people who like to brag. Kind of a big… No I’m just kidding. It has impacted us. So I lay out how it’s impacted us, but with the full recognition that it’s not the only impact some people’s lives, but this is just very specific to IABC.

Megan:

The timing of it couldn’t have been worse in terms of the programming we offer. So we have awards program called our Capital Awards Program and it occurs every spring and that’s where we have communicators in Edmonton submit their best work. It’s judged by people from across the world. And again, a Capital Award recognizing their good work. And we hold a big gala at the end of May with our AGM. And it’s just a really big event for us and something of which we’re extremely proud. And of course, because of today’s situation, we aren’t able to move forward with that. So that has to be one of the biggest impacts obviously alongside with other professional development events, we’re planning on holding and networking events and that sort of thing. So to borrow from all of the kind of cliches have kind of come forward lately, we pivoted in our new normal and quickly came forward to something else.

Megan:

So on June 18th, we’ll be holding our very first virtual AGM and networking event. And we’re going to be announcing some really exciting Capital Awards related pieces there. So it’s really forced us to think outside the box and as with any organization, we’ve been forced to think about things differently and perhaps just not approach things the way we have in the past. And so it’s been really interesting, but definitely stay tuned, June 18th is going to be an exciting night for sure.

Adam:

So cool. So cool in that it is the coolest it can be right now. Not so cool [crosstalk 00:14:54] but what is cool is a lot of people are turning to online AGM socials. Obviously you have a team that’s working on this, it’s not all you, but maybe you can walk us through what are some of the ideas around how to make something like that successful because you’re just under a month out now, I think, right?

Megan:

Yeah, absolutely. So we have a large board, our board is 22 people, so we have senior directors and then director level. So we have groups of teams. And so certainly this has been an effort across the board for everybody, all hands on deck in terms of moving to this new piece. Definitely it’s been working with our team and leveraging all of our resources, both in talent and in actual material resources to get the job done. But doing so in a way that’s respective of the fact that we’re doing this because of pandemic, but also pandemic means everybody’s busy, too. Communicators are busier now more than ever. And so how do you completely reimagine an event on the fly when everybody’s working flat out already, right? So it has really brought us together as a team, bringing together a marketing communications team, our programming team, the executives jumping in and really starting to… It’s just a lot of discussions around the pros and cons of every approach.

Megan:

And what do we have available to us? Who can we talk to? Who can help us out? I know one of our board members for instance, their organization has a subscription to Zoom that we’re probably going to be using for the networking event, and that was brought forward. So I mean just kind of like pulling in everything we can and recognizing the wealth of knowledge and assistance that kind of lives there already. It’s like you said, “It’s not just me.” It can’t be just me. It would be terrible if it was just me. And that’s certainly not the point of leadership as we both know. It’s been a lot of meetings, a lot of discussions, our Slack channels been on fire, and just trying to collaborate to find something that we think will be great for our members to attend and be involved with and doing it in a way that’s not going to exhaust us. So that’s the nice side, you always balanced with these types of volunteer roles, for sure.

Adam:

Well put. We have a question from one of our good friends, Kristin Hancock, anyone attended any formerly in person events, turned virtual conferences that they thought were done particularly well? And Kyla and I, at Bananatag and with our events lead Emily, who’s behind the scenes today, we do a lot of events. So we’ve been basically combing through any kind of examples that we can. And I think we’ve seen some cool ones, right Kyla?

Kyla:

Yeah, there definitely has been. There’s been some hits and some misses, that’s for sure. And I think what’s interesting about communications events especially is… And one thing that I know that we’ve been looking at is that networking piece. There’s the one side of like doing presentations, we’ve all kind of figured out how to do a presentation on Zoom or whatever, but when it comes to the networking piece that we know the communicators find so valuable doing that in a digital space is really hard when, say you have a Zoom room with 150 people in there, how do you really network in a room like that? You can have break out rooms, et cetera. But yeah, that kind of stuff. It’s really interesting to see what people are coming up with. Some people are doing Slack communities or having like separate chat functions.

Kyla:

But the networking piece, I think is key. If somebody could figure that out, we’d be good.

Adam:

Yeah. I will say, I scoffed at the idea initially, but we recently tried with our IABC chapter, the idea of a breakout rooms in a social and it seemed kind of silly. I’m like, “If I’m tuning in I want to talk to the maximum number of people possible”, but it was actually really good. We had a room of 25 people and then they were split into five different rooms. And we all talked about a question and came back and it was just kind of natural because it took you away from that wall of 40 people and “Do I talk”, and broke it up a little bit? So it seems like we’ll be continuing to figure out these fun ways for another stretch of time. I would imagine.

Kyla:

One thing I really love that I’ve seen people do is that because the presentations are not necessarily live, they’ve gone in like done more interactive and sort of engaging presentation. So they’ll film themselves. I was at a content marketing digital conference, which you expect the content to be pretty good there, but the keynote did a film. He basically recorded himself in lots of different locations and that sort of thing, whereas he would have just been on stage going through slides at the time. So it’s really about leveraging what is available to you and how can you really ramp it up. So as much as it is kind of annoying to not be in person, there’s also lots of opportunities there to do things a little bit differently and maybe be a little bit more engaging and you kind of have to, because you’re competing with a lot of other stuff. If you’re doing everything digitally, as well.

Adam:

Yeah. It’s a whole new playing field. Sorry. I tried to make a sports reference and I really fumbled on it. Oh, I just did it.

[crosstalk 00:20:22]

.

Kyla:

Wow.

Megan:

Good save.

Kyla:

-successful sports reference [crosstalk 00:20:26] you’ve done, I feel like.

Adam:

Oh my goodness, Megan, we’re down to the last 10 minutes, saved by the bell and you, and you know what that means. It is time for our Bananatag Tool Tip of the Day. Not that one. Kyla, why don’t we ever touch anything? There we go. Megan, why don’t walk us through your Tool tip?

Megan:

Absolutely. So nowadays we’re all on our phones now more than ever. I’ve been trying to think of it as a tool for good instead of evil in terms of how I’m feeling. Likely along with everybody else, always on here for Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn, everything to try and stay connected to what’s happening. But what I found was, looking for some great apps to stay healthy. All within terms of mentally and physically, and I definitely have found that with Peloton. So you don’t need a bike, is how I start this out. Peloton offers a number of programs in terms of running, meditation, yoga, cycling, walking, all sorts of things. So I think they have a 30 day trial free trial. You can download it and take some of their meditation programs. I’ve just completed a 14 day sleep meditation program, still sleeping. So that’s good news for everybody. But it’s important to where we can take care of ourselves and in ways in which we can. And certainly having a bike has been great. I do own one, just being able to connect with Adam and go for our weekly rides as well.

Megan:

So it’s another way to connect with others. You can take classes together too, so you can take a running class together, even if you didn’t have that equipment. So that would be my Tool Tip of the Day.

Adam:

I love it. Yes. And it has been so fun doing something with you, despite the fact that we can’t be in person and having our favorite instructors and all that is great. So a few more things to draw your attention to before we turn it back to you, Megan. One is, that next week on the show we have Patrick… nope, not next week… Friday. We have Patrick Armstrong, SCMP another fantastic IABC chapter leader and Senior Advisor of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement with Commonwealth Bank in Sydney, Australia. So tune in for that. It’s going to be a really good show. Watch for our event invites. And if you liked today’s show, how could you not? Megan is amazing. Give us a share and we would appreciate it.

Kyla:

Absolutely. And if you are not done with this conversation and you have more questions and you want to keep going, you don’t have to stop. We have the power, we have the tools, just join us in Comms-unity and we can just keep on going, we can talk about virtual events. We can talk about the crossover between HR and internal communications. Everybody’s in there. Everyone cool that you know is in there. So you might as well just join, right? There’s a link in the chat. You can join us in Comms-unity. We’re aiming to make it the best and brightest brain trust in the communications industry. There’s lots of interesting people in there and we’re always having really great conversations. So definitely join us in there. And of course, if you’re a communicator or an HR professional, who’s communicating with employees, Bananatag can help. We’ve got the most collaborative email designer in the industry, which means you can create beautiful emails in real time with your team collaborating remotely.

Kyla:

We also offer unlimited users. So that means it doesn’t matter if you’re an HR or internal communications or marketing or whatever, you can give a user permissions to anyone in your organization so that they also can be creating beautiful branded internal emails and getting real analytics and feedback on those emails, as well. So we’ve also just launched our Slack feature, which means you can push messages straight to Slack, which is very exciting. And we’ve got lots of cool new integrations coming out in the next couple of months, as well. So stay tuned. If you’re interested in checking out, Bananatag, there’s going to be a link in the chat, go talk to one of our account executives about how we can help. And before we sign off, Megan, you’ve been wonderful. This has been an absolute treat. It’s been great to meet you, but before we go, do you have any parting words for our audience?

Megan:

Just stay well, stay safe and to borrow from what I keep repeating to my board and my colleagues, just grant yourself some grace. We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s okay if things aren’t getting done exactly the way you want them to get done, they’re not going to and that’s okay. But just having this whole community here, obviously the community that Bananatag has built here, the community that IABC offers, is just a great wealth of resources. Tap into that and just be patient with the process and with yourself.

Kyla:

Beautiful. Now is the time to be leaning on your community. There’s lots of resources out there. And remember that we’re all in this together. And of course you got this, we’ll see you here on Friday with our guest, Patrick from Australia. Definitely don’t miss it. Otherwise, thank you all for tuning in. It’s always been a treat. We’ll see you next time. Bye.

Adam:

Bye. Awkward wave to fit in this thing.

Kyla:

High five.

Megan:

Are we high fives? There.

Adam:

So talented.