3 Key Lessons from Portland's Internal Comms Pro Event (plus 1 bonus!)

Sep 01, 2019

Recently, I was invited to participate in an event series here in Portland by a new organization called Internal Comms Pro. Internal Comms Pro was founded by Sara Jackson, who identified an opportunity to bring together internal communicators in major U.S. metros to discuss hot topics in our industry. Along with Portland, it recently visited Cincinnati, Chicago and New York. On September 24, it will travel to Charlotte. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend attending.

Like my experience in building Chasing the Sun, Internal Comms Pro identified a need based on feedback from a group of people yearning to learn from each other, took it and ran with it.

Jason Anthoine, Managing Founder, Audacity opened the event with a great keynote that looked at the role of the internal communicator and how to engage with the C-suite. Local Portland-area internal communications leaders Lise Harwin, Pete Donahue, Sara Bradshaw, and Sarah Fridovich (below) were panelists to discuss industry best practices and answer questions from a packed room at the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center.

My three biggest takeaways from the event:

There is an opportunity internal communicators grow as company leaders.

As internal communicators, the opportunity to build a presence as leaders within the company has never become more important. Internal communications is a great career path for those in public relations, and I look to those in college to consider it as an option coming out of school.

There are three keys to building trust with the C-suite.

Creating pilot programs for new ideas that can scale, learning about the business, and sharing results-based outcomes are three keys that were shared for getting a seat at the table.

Reminder: think about your employee audience.

One example: if your company has white and blue collar employees, look for ways to ensure everyone has access to information digitally. Wi-Fi hotspots and digital signage are two great examples for those who don’t constantly use their mobile devices and/or have spotty access while working.

Another example: if you’re working with IT departments on solutions to make it easier for employees to access information on an intranet, try to find compromises. For instance, if the company is using SharePoint, work with IT to build a custom landing page that is engaging but still uses SharePoint as the back end.

BONUS: We must be mentally and physically prepared to thrive in our profession.

As internal communicators, doing all this requires a lot of mental and physical strength. I appreciated the opportunity to close the event as I co-hosted a fireside chat with Sara Jackson. We focused on ways to incorporate health and wellness as professionals.

My main message: everything shared during the event requires mental and physical endurance. That means prioritizing your health and wellness to ensure you’re set up for success.

Thanks so much to Internal Comms Pro for making your way to Portland and addressing these topics head-on. You’re welcome back any time!

-m

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