By Gloria Lombardi

“Internal communication is about better informed, more motivated and engaged colleagues who really make a difference to your organisation” – James Harkness, Chair of CIPR Inside

The Inside Story Awards – which is open to enter until 6th December –  recognises talent, shares important case studies, measures success and helps internal communicators to learn from the best.

CIPR Inside Chair, James Harkness (pictured right), describes the benefits of the Awards, and explains why internal communicators should share their stories.

Internal communications benefits at individual, organisational and industry levels

“With internal communication moving right up the leadership and organisational agendas internal communication is no longer ‘the poor relation’ to external communications so it’s fitting that we have our own set of Awards,” says Harkness.

The Chair sees a number of benefits from taking part in the Awards.

To Harkness it is crucial for the broader Internal Communication profession that great work is noted. “Within CIPR Inside we share best practice studies. Much of our workshop and conference programme is focused on celebrating great work from award-winning organisations as diverse as Coca Cola Enterprises to London Gatwick Airport.”

At the organisational level, the Awards provide recognition that the work done has resulted in positive business impact. “Leaders, and many senior stakeholders, are interested in the results of what we do as internal communicators. This is one way of highlighting the best outputs and outcomes of our profession.”

At a more personal level, working in internal communications – even at the most senior levels – can be a lonely role. Therefore “taking time out to take stock is important. And nothing promotes success like great news!”

Also, the fact that an internal communicator’s work has been recognised by peers can be a great motivator for “you personally and your team.” Harkness refers to Internal Communication Manager at Marks & Spencer, Roland Burton. Last year, at the first Inside Story Awards, Burton’s team won an award for their innovative intranet project. Recently, Burton has shared on the CIPR Inside blog the benefits that his team derived from that recognition.

More to add to this year’s Inside Story

When asked if the Inside Story this year has something ‘special’ or different from the previous one, Harkness talks about 11 categories, rather than seven, covering the breadth from strategy to implementation.

As a result of feedback from entrants last year, CIPR Inside have added four new entries: Best use of video, Best training course, Best use of research and measurement, and Best contribution to internal communications by an individual.

“Internal communicators told us they needed more opportunities to show the strength of their work across the board. Many organisations are now truly grasping the importance and relevance of the profession. As a discipline, it has moved right up the agenda, with dedicated teams becoming more prevalent, and more senior.”

Other differences from last year’s Awards include the entry process, which has been streamlined “making it even easier than before. We’re aware of how time-consuming the process can be so we resolved to keep it as straightforward as possible.”

To ensure that all the various disciplines of internal communications as well as the many different sectors in which they work are reflected, this year also sees a “fantastic panel of judges lined up.” Some of the judges are Fellows of the CIPR, some represent agencies, and many are senior practitioners. There are also award winners from last year. Every entry will be examined against the criteria by a minimum of two judges independently, so “there is real rigor and fairness in the process.”

Considerable thought was also given to the location of the Awards celebratory party. And the party will be held at the iconic The Gherkin on 20th February 2014.

Focus on business results

With regards to how to compile the best winning award entry, Harkness encourages internal communicators to visit the twelve practical tips that CIPR Inside has produced and shared on their site.

Running throughout the twelve suggestions the Chair also says. “To me the real things to focus on are: Why did you do this activity? What were you hoping to achieve?”

And finally Harkness stresses the need to consider measurement and results. “I think too often – and from bitter experience – we focus too much on what we do; rather than what the business objectives we were trying to influence and what the real outputs were.”

Internal communication is not just about the tools

To conclude, as the Chair, Harkness shares his own expectations from this year’s Awards.

His belief is for the Inside Story to attract entries from across the UK as well as internationally, and from organisations large and small, so that the best of internal communication and employee engagement is recognised.

This in turn would help demonstrate that “internal communication is not just about the tools. It is more about how you use them inside the organisation in a way that can bring about the changes that are needed for success.

“Internal communication is about better informed, more motivated and engaged colleagues who really make a difference to your organisation”

To be part of the awards submit your entry by the 13th December.

simply-communicate looks forward to sponsoring the ‘Best use of Internal Social Media Award’

To follow the Inside Story on Twitter go to #insidestory @ciprinside