Outstanding Independent Practitioner
Through All Things IC, Rachel has seen impressive business success in a short space of time. She is an outstanding contributor to the industry, promoting and sharing best practice across a wide audience of practitioners, encouraging others to share and learn. She invests in conventional CPD as well as ‘learning every day’ by interacting with her community. She sees long term results from working with clients to positively change cultures and build employee brands, resulting in an ongoing stream of new business.
- Allison Thomas MCIPR
- Chris Love Chart.PR, FCIPR
- Elizabeth Underwood Chart.PR, MCIPR
- Nicola Davies Chart.PR, MCIPR
- Stuart Baird MCIPR
An overview of your experience, your commitment to professional development and how you contribute to the industry:
I believe you gain more when you give, so have built my career and All Things IC consultancy around this principle.
I began my career as a journalist in 1999, before discovering the fascinating world of internal communication in 2003. I worked in-house for a decade for companies including Visa and Novartis, and as Head of Communications at London Overground Rail Operations Ltd, creating the function from scratch. Plus, agency-side overseeing L’Oréal, GSK and Sky accounts. This breadth of experience in global, often unionised environments, revealed amazing opportunities to transform organisations and engage employees.
In 2009 I achieved a post-grad diploma in IC Management at Kingston Uni, while continuing to work full-time.
I am proud of my website and the resource it has become for the industry to develop professionally. I provide a platform for fellow internal communication (IC) practitioners to learn. I share insights, including research by competitors, and provide rich resources to help communicators.
And I do this all without charge. Eight years and 1000 articles later, my award-winning blog is thriving. It has 680 subscribers, and in 2016, 132,498 visitors read 232,422 articles.
I’ve published 200 guest posts to enable practitioners to raise their profile.
It’s a fiercely independent place – I forbid paid content, adverts, pitches or spam and provide an impartial space for practitioners to learn. Job adverts cost a minimal amount, and were introduced to fund my maternity leave and website hosting costs.
Feedback from my network shows the jobs section is invaluable. I often post pro bono adverts for charities and non-profit organisations.
As a CIPR and IoIC Fellow and accredited practitioner, CPD is essential. I was Deputy Chair of CIPR Inside and on CIPR Social Media Panel. I’ve contributed chapters/content to various PR books and skills guides.
I’m a regular awards judge and conference speaker. Google asked me to speak at their Atmosphere event 2014 about the role of social media within organisational communication.
In 2016 I launched monthly All Things IC Masterclasses to contribute to the industry. I train practitioners in a confidential environment to help them excel, and return to Kingston University annually as a guest speaker.
Over the past few years I’ve hosted three free #thebigyak unconferences alongside my fellow The IC Crowd co-founders. Our global community unites 6,500 practitioners. #thebigyak boosts attendees’ personal development. Pitches are banned, even from sponsors.
Outline your work-related achievements over the last three years, including your business objectives and/or plan:
I established All Things IC consultancy in 2013, which is a passion and joy, while on maternity leave with my daughter. I re-launched in 2015 after having my twin sons and returning to work.
My business objective is to help practitioners achieve excellence. I believe the higher the standards of IC are, the more employees benefit.
I have disclosure policies on my blog and act with integrity. This is the core of my business.
This translates into the way I run my consultancy. I’ve worked with 30 clients from a one-day to longer term partnership and the business is growing.
I’m proud every client has approached directly and invited me to help transform their communication. They include O2, Jamie Oliver Group, London Ambulance Service, Harrods, London Zoo, Tullow Oil and KP Snacks. I’ve helped them succeed through consultancy, honest conversations and bespoke training.
Most benefited from my free blog resources first, then hired me.
From running focus groups with tiger keepers, to teaching station staff how to Tweet, the variety of my work invigorates and inspires me. I can see the tangible difference it makes for my clients.
I continue to be offered partnership opportunities by PR agencies, but prefer to be an independent practitioner and offer a personal experience for my clients. This flexible, strategic approach ensures clients return and balances my professional and family commitments.
I was honoured to receive the inaugural CIPR Inside Best Individual Contribution to Internal Communication award.
Outline the biggest work-related challenge you have faced in the past three years, including details of what happened, how you overcame it and what you learnt from it:
As a CIPR Fellow I take the code of conduct seriously.
My biggest work-related challenge was being asked to act in an unethical way by a client’s senior stakeholder.
I was auditing the companies’ communication, including focus groups where employees were encouraged to share feedback confidentially.
Following review of my audit report, the stakeholder demanded to know the name of an employee who had given a comment.
This undermined the integrity, confidence and trust I’d established around the audit with employees. I’d promised them I was interested in what they had to say, rather than who said it. I overcame it by refusing under those principles to disclose the name.
What I learnt was despite being an awkward conversation, it was the right thing to do and I would do it again. Nothing is more important than trust and transparency in an organisation. That one disclosure would have undone all the excellent work.
A summary of a campaign you are particularly proud of, including details of the brief, objectives, strategy, tactics, outputs, outcomes and budget:
Brief: Provide overarching comms strategy and consultancy for a new shared services intranet at three councils operating as a Tri-borough.
Rachel to facilitate and provide leadership through decision making across Hammersmith & Fulham, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster City Council.
- Align three Comms teams around the project
- Be conduit between IT and Comms
- Mediate between business requirements and IT capabilities
- Create online experience to be proud of
- Train and coach employees
- Combine three intranets into one platform.
- Listen to employee voice
- Design solutions aligned with business needs
- Iterative approach to constantly improve
- Build advocates
- Highlight individuality but ensure consistency.
- Creation of shared vision
- Clear launch messaging
- Internal campaigns
- Coached comms teams
- Recruited advocates
Timing: Groundwork from November 2015, implementation and go live of new SharePoint online collaborative intranets: March 2016.
- Enterprise social network training
- Change comms coaching
- User research including personas and journeys
- Usage policies and mapped business benefits
- Lots of heated discussions! But positive result
- Content migration process.
- Built network of advocates
- Prepared Comms teams for launch
- Measure of success: all sites delivered on time to 15,000 people simultaneously
- Shared mistakes and learnings with 200 practitioners at IntranetNow conference in September 2016, alongside client, Tri-borough CIO Ed Garcez.