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Tim Smith


Blue Heron Communications

Job Title

Communications Consultant

Time with company

14 years

Take five

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A zookeeper (as a result of watching Animal Magic on TV). Then something that involved writing, which set me on the path to a career in communications.

If you could have one wish, what would it be?

Less turmoil in the world, or if I can’t have that, Southampton FC winning the Premier League.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Iceland – in an increasingly homogeneous world, it’s so different and the scenery is breathtaking.

If you could have any super power what would you choose?

Time travel – to go back and experience some of the key events of the 20th century as they happened.

What's the one thing not many people know about you?

I have appeared on four TV quiz shows – Fifteen to One, The Great British Quiz, 100% Gold and a local ITV show, Challenge of the South – with limited success.

Don't miss this year's survey results...

Proud to be a member of the CIPR and committee member of CIPRinside.
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Tell us a bit about your role:

For the last fourteen years, I've run my own business (Blue Heron Communications) providing a mix of interim management and consultancy services.

Recently, I've specialised in developing and leading internal communications for organisations going through major transformation, often working as part of the project team leading the change. Great communications are essential to these programmes being delivered successfully and in-house comms teams often don't have the specialist skills or need extra resources with experience in communicating change. I've trained as a change manager, which is invaluable in these roles.

What’s on your internal comms agenda right now?

I've just finished a really interesting role helping Solent University develop their digital communications with both students and employees, so I'm looking for the next opportunity.

I've also developed a training course on 'creating effective communications strategies', which has been very well received and I'm working on marketing it further. There seems to be a real gap in the market for affordable learning for comms professionals (or people in other roles asked to lead project communications) on taking a strategic approach, which is how I came up with the idea.

What has had the biggest impact on internal comms in your organisation in the past year?

I think it's the way organisations are continuing to move towards using innovative digital channels to communicate with their people. There's a vital role for internal communicators to help their leadership teams to see the wood from the trees and focus on those channels, which really helps them achieve their corporate objectives.

What’s your proudest achievement or best day in your current role?

I know it’s a bit of a cliché to say ‘too many to mention’ but it’s true. The best day in any project is when it’s coming to an end and you can look back and see that you’ve delivered something that has really made a difference to the organisation and importantly is sustainable for the future.

How would you advise someone considering a career in internal comms?

Make sure you really understand your audience and what will make a difference and motivate them in terms of your internal communications. You need to get out into the business to find out about them and what they do, and not stay in an ivory tower.

And as well as your knowledge of internal comms, try and learn a bit about the disciplines that internal communications support, such as change, HR or organisational development – it will add to your value to the business and stand you in good stead for the future.

What do you think the top three trends in internal communication will be in the next year?

1) An increased focus on employee engagement, not just internal communications.

2) A continued increase in the use of digital channels, as seen as more immediate and cheaper.

3) Lots of change communications as a result of the outcomes of Brexit (whatever they are!).

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