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Episode 1: Katie Macaulay

By May 20, 2020 No Comments

Intentional Internal Comms
Remote Control Episode 1

With Katie Macaulay

It’s here the first episode of Remote Control!

Listen now to hear from one of the industries most influential voices, and host of her very own internal comms focused podcast; Katie Macaulay, MD at AB Comms.

In this episode we discuss:

💡 The opportunities remote working presents for internal comms

💡 Internal comms tactics from some of the world’s biggest companies

💡Why “intentional” should be your word of 2020

Remote Control - Katie Macaulay

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Episode Transcript

Jack:

With me today on Remote Control podcast is Katie Macaulay, the managing director of AB, one of the UK’s leading internal comms agencies, and host of The Internal Comms Podcast, now on its second series. So yeah, a bit of podcast royalty today Katie, welcome.

Katie:

Thank you very much, Jack, it’s a pleasure to be on the show.

Jack:

I noticed recently as well, I should add in that you’re also now a multiple award winner courtesy of the Institute of Internal Comms.

Katie:

Yes, absolutely. They gave me a Changemaker Award at their award ceremony a couple of weeks ago, which was really lovely actually. No, I didn’t expect it. Someone here had nominated me and put the entry in and yes, I had to rush out and buy a new dress so it was lovely.

Jack:

Perfect.

Katie:

Yeah, great.

Jack:

Well, I’m really excited to have you on the show. So we’re going to start talking about remote working and some of the challenges it poses and the trend of remote working that is growing. I think when we first started talking about this I was really struck by the roll call of your clients, and so I thought really you’d be able to give pretty unique insight into how some of the biggest brands in the UK and beyond are getting to grips with the change in employee preference for where they work, really. So yeah, really excited to talk to you about this subject.

Katie:

Yeah, no, I’m very excited. I think you’re right, I think a lot of our clients, they have a large remote workforce, and when I say remote I mean in different ways. So for example if you’re Royal Mail, you’ve got maybe 150,000 people who are pounding the streets of the UK. If you’re KPMG, you’ve got people working client side so they’re remote in that way although they might have lots of access to technology. So yes, absolutely, I think all of our clients have that challenge one way or another so it’s a really fascinating topic for us.

Jack:

So let’s kick off with an easy one but one that’s pretty fundamental to this whole Remote Control podcast, is the question, do you work remotely and is that common across AB?

Katie:

Yes, I do work remotely and it is fairly common across the agency. I guess I’m one of those lucky people that for me, work is very much now a thing I do rather than a place I go. And that’s true for I guess a lot of people, particularly on the agency side. I would just say though, as managing director, of course a lot of my job involves just simply listening to people, interacting with them, not necessarily about the task, but around the task.

Katie:

And that informal interaction is quite hard to do remotely. So although I could work remotely I do find myself coming in usually four days out of five to get that interaction, but yes, I definitely do do it, and it makes a big difference from a work/life balance point of view.

Jack:

Yeah, I can totally understand what you mean about the difference in the informal communication and just catching up with people where I work is much easier when you’re in the office, you can see them over the other side of the office, have a chat about what went on over the weekend, whereas someone who is maybe fully remote or 90% remote working, it’s almost an extra effort on your behalf to engage with them via instant messenger, kind of a voice call. There’s an extra process in place and I think it’s kind of working that into your behaviour, but it isn’t an extra effort. It’s just one of those things that happens and it’s definitely a change that I think a lot of people are getting on board with.

Katie:

Yeah. I think you’re right, you have to be more intentional about that, formal rather than informal interaction. You have to be much more intentional about that because it doesn’t just happen automatically as it would as you’re stood around the coffee machine, for example. So I think it’s worth bearing that in mind when you do work remotely and particularly when you manage remote workers as well.

Katie:

But I think at AB one of the things we have on our side, which is quite lucky, is we were founded as a family firm. We were founded by a husband and wife actually, back in the 1960s, and so the importance of putting family first, of getting the work/life balance right is kind of almost baked into our DNA, even though we’re not now owned by the same family as it were. And I think the heritage of that and the values of that are sort of baked into who we are, so that again makes it easier and more acceptable from a cultural point of view, which I think is also quite important.

Jack:

Yeah, and I guess from having been set up that way, and it feels like there’d be a lot of processes or policies for want of less stuffier words, but in place that kind of helps that informal communication. I like the word of intentional, being intentional about communicating with people, even if it is considered to be chitchat, it is much more than that, it’s that culture piece, it’s making people feel engaged and valued and just because they’re not sat in front of you there’s no reason why they should miss out, I guess.

Katie:

Yes, exactly. I think there’s been some research done around remote working which suggests that the conversation that happens before the meeting, and the conversation that happens afterwards in the corridor is equally as important as what is actually discussed in the room or on the call, and that’s the stuff you miss out, if you’re just dialling into the call because that’s the stuff around building relationships, bonding with your colleagues, it’s about the stuff that kind of is tangential to it but is still really very important to understand.

Katie:

So I’ve heard people actually deliberately start conference calls early, with a conversation around what people have just been up to, to get that informal chitchat going, because as I say it’s very important to just relationship building, which is at the heart of the business.

Jack:

I like that, I like the thought of almost having the informal chat almost like an agenda point, that’s quite a unique way of looking at it.

Katie:

Yeah, I think it’s really, really important actually, and it gets forgotten about I think. It’s probably a point we’ll come back to, I’m sure.

Jack:

Yeah, definitely. One of the key reasons to start this Remote Control podcast, was the research from Office for National Statistics that suggest that 50% of the workforce will be working remotely in 2020. So I just thought that was a crazy… To me, that seemed like that was huge and not true, but then I just looked around the office at streamGo and I thought, actually, yeah, every person in this office will be working from home, from a client, from a different space in the office this week. If that’s happening in ours it must be happening across the country. That really hit home. And yeah, that’s why I wanted to speak to experts and professionals like yourself, really, is to get a grip on what change is being seen and being felt by the internal comms professionals out there.

Katie:

Yeah. I mean we’re definitely seeing it. I think one thing, and I also saw that research actually from I think MORI’s done it and the Office for National Statistics has done it, to say by 2020 that 50% of the workforce I think will be able to work remotely or will be. A part of that also obviously is the rise of the gig economy, I think you’ve got 12% of the workforce who are freelancers and then you’ve got another 10% potentially, nearly 10% now who are in the gig economy, and they tend to be people again who don’t have an office. So we’re definitely seeing that increase.

Katie:

I suppose one of the things I’ve noticed since I’ve been working over the last 25, 30 years, it really has been that long, is it’s more generally acceptable to do it. People have lost that notion of presenteeism. You have to be present to be working. And now when you dial into a conference call or a video conference call you don’t expect someone to be sat in an office block, and that’s partly due to their extortionate rates that you’re charged now for real estate in most of our big cities around the world, so it just makes sense not to have people sat in those office blocks. So I think that’s part of it.

Katie:

I think we just need to be a little bit careful here because obviously there are a lot of people that still have to go into the shop floor of whatever that shop floor looks like, whether it’s retail estate or whether it’s factories or manufacturing where they don’t have that luxury. So I wouldn’t want to turn this into a two tier conversation because I think that’s also quite important to consider as well.

Katie:

But for those that are able to do it I think the challenge, potentially, that I see organisations grapple with is particularly around collaboration, and it’s really what we were talking about before, you can do the task probably better if you’re sat somewhere quiet potentially at home with less distractions, but it’s how do you collaborate around the task? So how do you replicate, as we were saying, the power of a face-to-face conversation?

Katie:

So, when I look at the technology, I’m not sure that organisations are moving as quickly as they need to for the way that we want to be running our lives. So I look at email, for example, we’ve been talking about death of email for the last 20, 30 years. We are still sending a lot of email. We haven’t yet, I think, moved to a situation where we’re exchanging information in online discussion forums, within social collaboration tools, we’re still relying I think largely on long email chains which is not helpful.

Katie:

So, I think from my perspective, those organisations that have cracked it for their employees that can work remotely, they bake in the technology from the word go. So I’m thinking of one client in particular who’s an accountancy firm where it’s hardwired into every meeting room that you are going to be talking and collaborating with people who aren’t sat in the room, and the technology is there from the beginning. When you join the organisation, you’re given your suite of mobile apps, you know what each of those are for. It’s on your device or it’s on the company device, but they’re intuitive, they’re engaging, they’re obvious. So those are the organisations, for me, that have cracked it because technology is enabling it rather than this kind of crazy situation where we’ve got 20th century technology and 21st wave are wanting to work.

Jack:

Yeah. And I think that’s a really interesting way of looking at it and it probably or definitely affects the recruitment policy of these firms as well. So that example that you mentioned there, the technology there to foster this collaboration with remote working and out at the client site or just working from a different office, kind of I guess looking at how in the recruitment process, how people adapt to technology or those different situations, and yeah I guess that’s kind of a separate side of remote working that I have not thought about before.

Katie:

Yeah, and it’s important not to be ageist about it. So one of my podcasts was with a guy that used to head up internal comms at B&Q. He found that his most active people on his internal social platform were actually the over 55s, because they had experience of products and services B&Q were selling that they wanted to share with their colleagues, and they just started to make little videos and share them with the rest of the organisation.

Katie:

So explaining to employees very early on what’s expected of them and how to use the channels and what they’re there for is really, really important, and I think to do that from the induction is again, very important. And how you actually introduce people to your organisation and onboard them should be done in a way that’s on their device, and on an application that suits them. So from the word go you’re explaining that yes if you want to work remotely, we can do it and these are the tools.

Jack:

Yeah, that’s so cool. That’s another great story and it just strikes me that segment of work at B&Q really wanted to share their experience and a message and that desire, kind of paved the way through different technology or different groups, and I think that’s probably quite a common thread amongst people that work well either in the office or remotely, is that desire to share that experience and connect with co-workers, and I think if there’s that drive there to share those experiences or learn from people then it’s going to go a long way to make up for any technology deficits or projects that haven’t been put in place by the company.

Katie:

I think the problem is that a lot of people turn on platforms, like for example they’ll turn on Yammer, because Yammer is part of Office 365, and so it comes as part of our package, let’s turn it on. You turn it on and it’s like… In fact, the guy from B&Q said this, it’s like saying well, you invite people to a football pitch but you don’t explain the rules of the game, you don’t explain how to win, and you expect people to just spontaneously start playing, it’s like okay, what do we do here? And I think that’s the common feeling when you just turn on a platform and just think, oh well people are just going to spontaneously start having these really meaningful, productive conversations. No. You have to go out of your way, you have to help, you have to show what good looks like. You do have to do some groundwork, I think, that’s the only thing I would say.

Jack:

Yeah, maybe putting a bit of structure around that will enable people to be specific. And what you mentioned right at the beginning, allow people to be intentional about their communication. I really like that, and some great examples there. Have you seen examples where it’s not… You mentioned anecdotally, people turning on tools and not doing it. Have you seen examples where companies have realised that this is going on and had to try and pivot to something else, or something that’s not gone really well straight out of the box and what have they done to turn it round?

Katie:

Yeah, I mean we get called in a lot to do channel audits. So, you’ll have a situation where an organisation, through time, has collected a series of channels. They don’t all talk to each other. Some of them someone set up a while ago, and that person’s left, and no one knows how to update that channel and what it’s really there for. So all of this needs sorting out, and so what we tend to do in those situations is work out which ones are actually working for which audience groups and sort of do a bit of a segmentation exercise and work out where the gaps are.

Katie:

I think the big thing for me that’s changed recently is intranets. Intranets, historically, were these kind of archived old libraries, for dusty archived information that no one really ever went to, and most of the stuff was out of date and completely impossible to navigate, and we still find those intranets exist inside organisations.

Katie:

What we’re seeing more of now is mobile apps, so things like Staffbase, things like SpeakApp on people’s phones, where they can do all the things an intranet was ever designed to do but in a much more intuitive and engaging way, and it sits in the palm of their hand. And that, for me, I think, is a big, big step change. But again, I don’t think you can just turn those things on and expect them to work. There’s a lot of work to do in the lead up to launching something like that, to work out exactly how it’s going to work for your organisation and your audience, and that takes research.

Katie:

So normally what we do with organisations is we’ll do the IT audit. Now, normally that means when people hear that it’s like oh we’re going to audit systems and processes. Oh, no, no, no. We’re going to look at the audience and we’re going to ask them how do you use technology, when do you use technology, what kind of technology, what works for you and how do you consume the information outside of work? Because that’s where we need to set the bar when it comes to internal comms.

Katie:

Once you’ve got all of that information, then designing things very much around the audience rather than around the organisational needs, if that makes sense.

Jack:

Yeah, no, totally. I think that you’ve just been talking there about interviewing the audience and it brought to mind a story that I heard from somewhere else I’ve worked where we talked about internal comms is for product launch, how can we get everyone in the company really geared up towards this product launch, get those key messages out there you’re going to take to market, and inevitably start talking about mobile and it’s like yes, okay, well that’s great, we could produce an app or look at push notifications. And then someone in the meeting room said, “Yes, but 50% of your audience are told to put their mobile phones in their drawers for the day.” So it’s kind of like yeah, it seems like a great idea because sure, everyone uses mobile phones, but that was very close to going further down the line without really considering the practicalities of it, and like you say just by talking to the audience that would have brought that up very quickly.

Katie:

Well, there’s an award winning magazine called Life at KPMG which we produce, it’s actually just won a set of wards from the Institute of Internal Communications a couple of weeks ago, but an earlier version of that magazine was called Highlights, and at the time all of the audience were connected. They all sat behind a screen, either at a KPMG office or somewhere else on the client side.

Katie:

But every time we researched the audience they said, “Please, please, please can we also have printed copies, because I am so sick of staring at a screen. I would love a printed copy to take away with me, to read on the train, not to be sat in front of another screen reading something. It would feel like a joy, a break.” So we kept printing copies as well as delivering it digitally. So asking the audience is so important, you will get that insight that you need to actually deliver something that’s going to work for them. So yeah. I’m a big advocate of that.

Jack:

Yeah, and I think it harks back to a conversation on a previous episode where it feels like internal comm is very much rubbing shoulders with external comms these days in terms of sophistication, the strategy behind it, I’m hanging on to this word intentional, being intentional about what the communications is. External comms and marketing has had that for a long time, there’s been lots of theories put into place and policies, tools, and it really seems like internal comms now is sitting at the same table.

Katie:

Yes, absolutely. That was actually the topic of my speech at the CIPR Inside Conference last week in Birmingham, was the convergence of internal/external communication. In some ways, internal comms is a fairly young profession still, and if you look at some of the established ways that marketeers go about doing what they do, or the way that they’re advertising, the success of advertising is measured, for example, either above or below the line.

Katie:

There’s commonly established ways of doing that, and I would say that that’s only just starting to come through in internal communication. So in some ways it would appear with convergence that IC lags behind external, in other ways I think we’re ahead of the curve. So when it comes to making a lot out of a very small budget, we are excellent at that.

Katie:

When it comes to jumping through lots and lots of hoops to get something spot on, that deals with a lot of sensitivity, we’re very good at that as well. So it’s quite ironic in a way but if you work in internal communications, it’s much harder to get something signed off often than it is for a big above the line advertising campaign, because there’s so many stakeholders and it gets very complex. So yeah. Convergence is really interesting but I’d say there’s pros and cons on both sides in terms of strengths and weaknesses if that makes sense.

Jack:

Yeah, totally. It’s really interesting to see how it’s been progressing and it feels like there is a real big launch pad there for people to make this jump and it’s potentially catching up on the youth or the professional side of things in terms of the strategy and the planning around it, will then very quickly enable to people identify the right tools and processes to put in place that really allow this internal comms boom to happen, I suppose.

Katie:

Yeah, I mean for me the big win, if you’re an IC person and you’re thinking what do I bring to the table, is employee insight. So we talk a lot and we do a lot of research every year, every organisation, no matter what they sell, whether it’s services or products, we’ll be doing a lot of customer and client insight and bringing that to the table to help develop new products, new marketing strategies, et cetera, et cetera.

Katie:

But who is bringing employee insight to the table? Because employees have this tremendous amount of knowledge about what the organisation does, how it does it, how it can do it better, and who is bringing that to the table. And then for me that’s where IC really have a huge opportunity to bring something new and interesting into the conversation.

Jack:

So I want to talk a little bit now around… Perhaps it’s more of a relationship side of things, but I was reading some research that said that 56% of employees believe that managers need to adapt their skills to manage a remote workforce. So it’s clear that it’s not just right now that your team are working in different areas or you’re a global manager now, so the teams have always been working where they are but the research of the business has now meant that you’re managing across different regions.

Jack:

I’m just wondering if you’ve seen how you come across people that have been into these management roles, or the structure’s changed so that now they’re managing people remotely, what kind of work has been done to adapt new skills and training?

Katie:

Yeah, training is a huge part of it. So all the research and IC suggests that we still worry quite a lot of IC professionals about the capability of line managers and middle managers to communicate, and we still feel that there’s more training required. I think the answer lies in supporting managers to create a regular cadence of communication throughout the week and month so that there is a very clear schedule for remote workers. They know the purpose of every call they dial into or every webinar that they’re part of.

Katie:

I would also encourage, and we’ve seen this very successfully with the Post Office for example, which is a separate organisation now to Royal Mail, but with sub-postmasters, you know those 11,000, something like that, sub-postmasters, maybe 14,000 across the country. They’re all remote workers, if you like, that are delivering products and services and the brand of the Post Office, literally across the whole of Great Britain.

Katie:

What we did for them was we created a one minute video call a week in one, and whoever you were, if you missed out on all these different emails and all these newsletters, all you had to do was dial in or download, watch this one minute film. And it had a ticker tape at the top so you could see you really were, we were just taking up one minute of your time.

Katie:

So I think from a cast perspective, it’s about a regular schedule that makes sense and there’s clear objectives for everything you’re dialling into so you know what, when, how, and why, but then it’s saying we know you’re time is precious and we’re going to value your time and you do need one single source of the truth. So we are going to provide you that, just in case you get completely blown away by all these things we’re trying to ask you to consume in an average week because it’s a very, very noisy world out there and IC, internal comms, is just part of that noise that they’ll be drowning under the weight of, potentially.

Jack:

Yeah. That’s really cool, and it makes me think of the BBC News app when I worked in the morning, kind of flick to that and the first link on there is if you need to know only five things, and it’s quite a succinct summary of what’s been in the news. So that’s kind of a really cool play on that for internal comms.

Katie:

Yeah, I think it’s just about making it really clear that… Say for example I do a Friday update at AB, I mean it doesn’t sound strategic, it’s not strategic, it literally is the same time every Friday and I’ve had people say, “If I’m on holiday I’ll just quickly look at that on workplace, just to check it out, so I’ll know what’s happened and what I’ve missed.” So it’s just providing that easy touch point for people because, as I say, it’s a really noisy world out there.

Jack:

Yes, definitely. And keeps coming back to the purpose, making sure there’s a set reason for the communication, and that everyone is aware of it, it’s not a secret reason to the person that’s going to record the meeting and set the agenda. That’s really interesting, and as I say, the purpose and intentional words keep cropping up.

Katie:

Yeah, it’s a bit of a theme there I think.

Jack:

I was just wondering, we talked a little bit about the challenges of remote working for the businesses and internal communications professionals, just wondering on the flip side of that, what type of opportunities do you think are out there for people to really benefit from the desire for remote working?

Katie:

Well, I think this is so exciting, because potentially if we really think about it, you can have world class individuals, people that are absolutely at the top of their game in any kind of training room, meeting room, virtually. And it enables you then to just ensure that the very best people are having that conversation around the topic at hand, no matter who they are and where they are, because they don’t have to travel vast distances to be there.

Katie:

I think that’s potentially really exciting. I think the other thing that doesn’t get talked about enough is reducing organisations’ carbon footprint as well, if you think about how often we have to fly people around the world or just take transport to get to places. And if that can be improved, that will be tremendous as well.

Katie:

So I do see huge opportunities and to keep hold of talent. We lose talent because it’s very expensive to live in London. We lose talent for that reason. If there was a way that we could really crack remote working in the future then we wouldn’t lose so much talent.

Katie:

So I think yeah, it’s huge opportunities. Interestingly, on my podcast very recently had two people that job share, so not intentionally exactly the same as what you’re talking about with remote working, but they do spend half of the time in the office and half the time not in the office. They’re not actually working then but nevertheless they’ve got work on their mind.

Katie:

And one thing that became very clear to me in that conversation was the time that they are spending away from the office, is crucial in enabling them to do a better job when they’re in the office. So that time away from the problem and the conversation, enable them to assimilate and think about and put into order their thoughts and ruminate on things, and they’re absolutely convinced it makes them better in their job as a result.

Katie:

So I think that’s one thing we don’t talk about a lot, but the time away from the hubbub and the busyness, although that’s dangerous sometimes because you’re missing out on some of that informal collaboration that I think is the kind of… where the magic sometimes happens with a new idea, on the flip side you probably, from a work/life balance and a mental health point of view and just solving the problem from a mental perspective, maybe you’re benefiting in that way as well.

Jack:

Yeah, I think that’s a really good point you just touched on at the end in terms of mental health, the work/life balance and mindfulness. Maybe coupled with that carbon footprint angle as well, is some real ethical reasons why remote working is good for the business as well as any link to financial performance and talent retention. But those bigger companies that have these goals for… CSR goals, then yeah, it’s certainly something to consider, and I guess invest in the technology to help remote working because it will have a benefit for these CSR goals and objectives that they’re set out in the beginning.

Katie:

Yeah. I mean if you think… In the future is it possible that all that matters to you is finding the most talented person to do the job and potentially where they live, where they do the work, potentially even what language they speak, even, potentially. Because technology is going to wipe away so many boundaries and allow you just to bring talent to bear on the problem. I think that’s quite exciting. We’re not there yet, we’re not there yet, but potentially that could be where we end up I think.

Jack:

Yeah, I think you can see little pockets of these totally remote companies kind of springing up and it’s probably no great surprise that they’re originating on the west coast of the US and spreading out from there. But yeah, I think we’re seeing them grow and grow, and yeah, hopefully become more commonplace, really.

Katie:

Yeah, I mean I just had someone on the podcast, it hasn’t come out yet, it will come out next week, who used to run an internal communications agency in the UK and a decade ago set one up in India and is now serving big, international brands, and other advertising and communications agencies by… They’re basically outsourcing work to him. So he’s doing it all remotely, he’s got the slight advantage of the time difference as well, but that model enabling the UK agencies, if you like, to concentrate on the high value, conceptual work, where some of the more mechanical stuff, if you like, rudimentary stuff can be done somewhere else, I think is quite interesting as well. Outsourcing now has really shifted and has become a very common way that we think about how to run our businesses.

Jack:

Yeah, no, definitely. So I’ve got a couple more questions that I wanted to ask and one of them we’ve touched on and we’ll just maybe go into a little bit more detail but maybe a little bit more conversation around successful uses of the technology, that you’ve seen brands use, or maybe that yourselves use at AB?

Katie:

Yeah, I mean I would just say upfront that when clients come to us and they say, “What’s a technological solution, what’s the channel?” My first question is, well, what’s the objective? Because I do see, some organisations are becoming almost like Clapham Junction, they’ve got so many platforms, they don’t know what to do with them all.

Katie:

So, again, it does come back to that word intentional. But for example, at AB, we’ve started… we introduced Workplace by Facebook, and we had something like a 98% adoption rate in about two hours. So that’s because obviously people know intuitively how to use Facebook, so therefore they know how to use Workplace. I would say that’s great for a certain type of communication, so that’s around collaboration.

Katie:

So where you want to enable people to create groups, share information, share ideas, and not rely on those big email chains. And where you want to create a bit of community around something, I think something like Workplace works very well and I’m sure in the future we’re going to see rivals to that platform that are equally as good, if not better.

Katie:

Workplace by Facebook is not so great if you’ve just come back from a two week holiday and you want to go straight to the place where you find out what you’ve missed. For that I would say you want something like Staffbase, which is more of a mobile intranet. So that’s an all singing, all dancing application on your mobile phone that gives you a lot more than just a collaboration tool, or something like SpeakApp, which is another IC app.

Katie:

So I think of course it’s important, and I think it’s really important to break down the problem and find the best in breed technological solution for you. And it’s the same with virtual meeting rooms as well. So there’s some very basic ones, there’s some really amazing, exciting rooms that you can walk into or that you can dial into. Again, it absolutely will depend on your audience, your objectives, your budget, your timelines and all those things have to be considered, I think.

Katie:

So, I don’t know if that answers the question but yeah, research really, really well first, it’s so important, and go and ask people as well what works well in their organisation. Because I don’t think we necessarily do enough sharing and that would be quite useful, I think, to do more of.

Jack:

Yeah, no, that makes total sense and kind of mirrors quite a lot of answers to that question that I’ve had in terms of people aren’t waving a tool around saying, “This is going to be the solution to all the internal comms problems for people in this office, that office, remote workers.” Yeah. It’s like unless you’ve got that plan and that strategy and the reason for the communication, then the tool and the technology is a distant second behind that.

Katie:

Yeah, I mean research and then content. So you can have the most brightest, shiniest, whizziest tool or channel, but if the content’s not updated or engaging then I’m sorry, but your money’s been wasted. Equally, we all know that there are things in our personal lives, we spend time reading or watching, and it’s not because it’s delivered on some bright, shiny tool, it’s because we really want that content. It entertains us, it’s highly informative, we’re really into it.

Katie:

So I would say relevancy comes first; bold, relevant, brave content, that is really fit for purpose for the audience, great storytelling, concentrate on that as much as finding the bright, shiny channel, because a HTML email that is sent to exactly the right people at the right time with fantastic stories, and you know that they’re clicking on it as soon as they get it because that’s what the MailChimp stats are telling you, is going to work just as well.

Katie:

So really scrutinize your data and find out what’s working today, do more of that, and then I’d say there’s certainly, I bet, lots of organisations have certain channels they can just turn off. Turn off tomorrow and see who complains.

Jack:

Yeah. Harking back to your example about KPMG highlights, that’s not a shiny or brand new tool, a physical printed magazine, but it’s exactly what the audience were asking for. So yeah, you’re dead right, it’s kind of making sure that content is reaching the people at the right time with that right message and yeah, it can be as old fashioned as print.

Katie:

Yeah, absolutely. Print, we’ve been talking about the death of print for as long as I can remember and we, I don’t know, something like 25% of the stuff we do is still printed, and for a remote workforce, when that’s sent to their home, you wouldn’t think of print being a remote solution but if something pops through your door and it’s something that you can read in your own time, that you can share with your family, doesn’t have a firewall, doesn’t need power, you can pick it up and put it down wherever you are, wow.

Jack:

Where can I buy one of these things?

Katie:

Yeah, exactly.

Jack:

Brilliant. So this is kind of the last question, and I think some of the podcast guests fear that they’ll be judged the most on their answer to this one, but don’t worry it’s a judgment free zone, but I just, I couldn’t do a podcast called Remote Control without asking, what it is on your TV that you’re watching and would you recommend it?

Katie:

Right. I’m going to say upfront I do a lot more listening than I do watching. So, one thing I am watching at the moment, I’m the only one, I think, only one in the world that hasn’t been watching Fargo, so I had to go back to the beginning on Netflix and realised why everyone talked about how brilliant that is. But I am much more of a consumer of podcasts, funnily enough, than I am of TV. So I’m going to give your listeners a couple of really good things to check out that I just thought oh my goodness me, this is just so useful.

Katie:

So people may know Tim Ferris, the Tim Ferris show, because he’s probably up there with some of the greatest podcasters of all time. But if you’re interested in how to get more done in your day, then check out his interview with a guy called David Allen, who’s the author of Getting Things Done. It blew me away when I listened to it about two weeks ago and I was just taking notes the whole time.

Katie:

But yes, if you’re worried that you’re not getting enough done in an average day, week, year, that’s one to listen to. And the thing that I’m listening to on the way to work at the moment, is Black Box Thinking, by a guy called Matthew Syed. It’s been out for a while, it won’t be a new book to a lot of your listeners, but if it’s one of those that you’ve got it on your wishlist on Amazon, I would recommend it.

Katie:

It’s basically saying that talent isn’t necessarily irrelevant, but talent is definitely not enough, and you need, what he calls the kind of growth mindset, which means you’ve got to allow yourself to fail. Put yourself in a position where you will embrace failure, which is one thing in IC we really hate doing, and then learn from it. So a lot more AB testing, a lot more let’s try it this way and change things in flight, to see if it’s going to work better another way, I think is really where we need to move to. There’s a couple of hot tips there.

Jack:

No, brilliant, I appreciate that, that’s great, thank you very much. Well, I really appreciate you coming on to the podcast, Kate, it’s been absolutely fascinating, the time’s totally flown by, I think I’ll be using the word intentional in every single conversation I have now, it’s kind of ingrained in there. But yeah, really enjoyed having you on, thank you very much for coming on.

Katie:

It’s been an absolute pleasure, thank you very much for inviting me.

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Jack Ford

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