Executive buy-in of “huge importance” to comms strategy

Jane Lawrence discusses winning the HR Excellence Award for most effective communications strategy

Executive buy-in is of “huge importance” to a successful communications strategy, according to Jane Lawrence, group internal communications manager for Northumbrian Water Group, which last year won the HR Excellence Award for Most Effective Communications Strategy.

“It was important for the senior leaders to be walking the walk, and not just talking the talk, when it came to our strategy,” said Lawrence. “It was underpinned by their support and ensuring they were visible through all of the stages.”

Lawrence joined Northumbrian Water Group four years ago in the newly-created role of group internal communications manager. “It was like having a blank sheet of paper,” she explained. “We went out and researched what we wanted to do because a one-size-fits-all approach wouldn’t work. We have employees who are digging holes, and others who are testing water for safety, and they have very different communication needs."

Lawrence said she felt “so excited and really proud” of her team when they were given the award. “I was thinking ‘oh my god, this is amazing, I don’t believe it!’ It was a really well attended event.”

Northumbrian Water Group has continued to develop its award-winning strategy. “Our focus now is on measuring the outcomes of our actions,” Lawrence said. “We found 86% of our staff were satisfied with our communication strategy, and 70% wouldn’t change anything.

“We asked 700 members of staff for their opinions in surveys, focus groups, and polls, and one suggestion really stood out. They said that when they contact their bank they get to choose how they communicate with them. We thought that was absolutely the right way to do it.”

Do you have a fantastic communications strategy? Due to demand the deadline for entries into the HR Excellence Awards 2016 has now been extended to 21 March. Visit www.hrexcellenceawards.com/ for details of how to enter