ICology: the story behind IC Kollectif

Ep 31: Lise Michaud with IC Kollectif

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Lise Michaud is the founder and creator of IC Kollectif, a new resource focused on the internal communications community. In this episode, we discuss her passion for internal communications, which began when she was a reporter at a struggling newspaper. We also talk about why she started IC Kollectif and its future. 

You can follow IC Kollectif on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. And if you want to connect with Lise, find her on Twitter at @michaud_lise

Episode Transcript

Chuck Gose: This is ICology. It's a podcast dedicated to interesting people doing interesting things in the world of Internal Communications. In this episode listen to the creator and founder of IC Kollectif, Lise Michaud. If internal comms is your passion then this is your podcast. Listen in.

Hello welcome back to ICology, this is Chuck Gose your host for the show. I did want to get you caught up on an event coming up here at the end of September. It is ALI's Strategic Internal Comms for Healthcare Conference. ICology is a proud sponsor of that. This year it's in DC, featuring some great speakers including a few past guests like Elisabeth Wang from Piedmont Healthcare, Christian Hancock from the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba will be there.

I am also speaking at the event. If you're interested in attending, maybe you're in healthcare, want to come up with some new techniques, new strategies, network with people just like you in the same profession. Definitely check it out. Attend, use my code SPK0916, so like Speaker 0916 but SPK0196 and save 50% off the registration. Hope to see some of you there in DC at the end of September.

Onto the day's topic. I've been known sometimes to criticize the internal comms community for ignoring some great and often times free resources that are available and dedicated to Internal Comms. Today's guest has created one of these resources much through social media, another area where I think Internal Communication should be spending more time. That this resource became available just this year. I want to welcome to this show Lise Michaud, the Founder of IC Kollectif. Lise, welcome to ICology.

LiseThank you so much Chuck for having me today. 

ChuckWell and you've been such a great supporter of ICology since I got started it's been great to see IC Kollectif grow both in that time as we independently built these 2 vehicles yet supporting each other. Thought this would be a great chance for people to learn about the IC Kollectif, but before we get into that, well I'm curious from a personal standpoint, what is it about internal comms that you're drawn to?

LiseYeah well I've always been drawn by the human aspect of any organization and this may come from former personal experiences. If I may I'd like to go a little way back when I first started. After I got my degree in communication I started my career as a reporter in a provincial daily newspaper here in Canada. I initiated at the time a weekly column on businesses. It was focusing on employees, and I remember my boss wondering was it a good idea because our mandate was to report on news not to make employees look good within organizations. I just had this thing I wanted to do.

That's where I first discovered that employees are actually the heart and soul of the business. I think that's where I was not quite realizing it at the time. I was getting to know what Internal Communication is but from the outside. I could very much see the difference even as an outsider a huge difference between those who had good communication practices and the too many of them I could say that did not.

Then a second thing that comes to mind is as an employee I also had I would say at the time I thought it was a real bad luck to experience bad Internal Communications really from as an employee working inside an organization. It's okay to talk about it today because that organization does not exist anymore but yeah. I started as a reporter in this newspaper, it was a provincial paper, and there had been rumors for months that it was not going well. We were having a difficult financial situation.

We kept making the news. Internally we couldn't get any official statement from our managers. As a reporter I was dealing with the public all the time and we were getting a lot of questions. People were wondering, "Are you still going to be around for a while or is this thing dying?"

In some instances not only was it hurting the reputation of the paper but our own reputation as well in a way. So employees were really kept in the dark by management and still we were expected to perform as usual. Everyone was worrying as you can imagine, and then one day we just learned that we were out of job on the news. You're going to say it's a classic, but I've been through that and believe me let's just say that by then I knew IC wasn't just a nice thing to have.

Then later on when I start to work in the field of corporate communication because I climbed the ... Well I was on the side of, I was a journalist and then I became a corporate communication professional. I soon realized that if people who work in an organization don't understand their role and the impact they have with say the organization and on their organizational outcomes, there's no way they can fully contribute to the success of the organization. All these different corporate communication disciplines, and by that I mean internal comms, external comms, media relations, you really have to work hand-in-hand and understand each other because they're all part of the same organization.

To sum it up I could say that I strongly believe that Internal Communication has a potential to make a difference from the inside out to connect the dots, to provide context to all staff, build trust, influence the way organization communicates internally and it will have an influence on how it will communicate externally as well. If it's well managed and by that I mean managed strategically, that is if we focus on business outcomes rather than just activities, outputs. To me it becomes a function that is just as vital and as impactful as any other function in the business say let's say IT, finance, HR, marketing. I think it's all of this that really draws me to IC.

ChuckWell it's very clear that you have a strong passion for Internal Comms. That's how we first came across each other was on social media, I believe it was on Twitter, perhaps sharing similar articles or getting involved in the same conversations. We had a chance to meet face-to-face which was lovely, but I'm curious now let's move on to what you're creating, this new resource that you've made available to the internal comms community. It's called IC Kollectif which is K-O-L-L-E-C-T-I-F if anybody's searching for it. K-O-L-L-E-C-T-I-F IC Kollectif. Explain to everybody what this is.

Lise: IC Kollectif is intended for Internal Communication professionals, but not only them it's also I think a very interesting resource for other business communication disciplines like external comms and corporate comms. HR even, even if it's not a communication discipline because I think that we have to understand each other. In a nutshell IC Kollectif is a resource for global communication professionals. It's there to help them find relevant information to help them support the organizational communication successes. It simplifies the search for information by bringing together as much internal communication and corporate communication sources under one roof.

This one roof now is a website that was just launched a few weeks ago. Yesterday Chuck just for fun, and I do this once in a while and I thought since we were going to talk today I thought I'd do this. I typed the words Internal Communication in my browser and Google found over 24,300,000 results. There's a lot of noise on Internal Communication on the internet. These sources as you very well know they're not all equal in terms of quality and reliability. Knowing where to find the relevant sources and having easy access I think is of great help to comm pros. Really I wish I would have had this tool when I was working in-house.

The other thing too is while many communication professionals are member of a communication associations, like I'm a member of IABC, there are still a great number that are not. Those who are members they may turn to their association to find relevant information. For me for instance with IABC we have great resource, but I think that it's the sum of all that provides the best opportunity. While I was building IC Kollectif I realized how much sources, how much different communication organizations that are out there around the world, it's amazing. Just taking the time to find them all and then taking a look at what it has to offer, it takes a lot of time.

I remember while I was working in-house there was no way I could have done what I'm doing now. Being able to bring this to the professionals so that they have, provide them with an easier access I think is the key thing for IC Kollectif. 

ChuckI think you brought up a very good point at the beginning and I'll probably explain on here a little bit. There's a lot of organizations you mentioned this isn't just for the internal comms community, there's all sorts of other communication professionals who could benefit from it. I think that a lot of times what we forget especially in the small organizations, internal comms might just be a portion of a communicator's responsibility. They're trying to themselves juggle internal and external and social and not being able to necessarily really focus in on one of those practices.

That's where I think IC Kollectif is a great resource for them. If they need to pick up some quick tips because they're going to be launching their internal campaign, they can go there and do a little bit of a refresher for themselves. They might not spend all of their time during internal, they might be juggling various other channels or tactics or obligations at the same time.

LiseThat's very true. If I just look at me when I worked several years for federal government. I was Director of the Communication and I was a regional director so I looked after Internal Communication but that was just part of my job because I had to look after media relations, external communications, stakeholder relations. I had a team of 3 people but there was not one person entirely dedicated to IC. I'd say that today it's not the same game at all. IC has changed so much with social media and all the, sorry, the technology.

I think that resource like yours are extremely helpful, ICology, because it gives a chance to communication professionals no matter where they are on this planet to keep up with what's happening and get fresh ideas from communication professionals that have tested things and they can speak about it. To me I think it's great and it's great to know that it exists and to know where to access them.

ChuckNow you had mentioned that you are an IABC member, I am as well. I know that you are also on the board for IABC Montreal. I'm curious and you sort of created this with also with IABC Montreal and mine, have other chapters responded to it, contributed to it? How have they looked at it?

LiseNo, other IABC chapters have not contributed to the creation of IC Kollectif, but like last week or a couple of weeks ago I was invited by it was IABC Brazos Valley that they asked me to write a blog post for their website. They wanted to focus on employee engagement because that was the topic of IABC, the monthly topic, and they wanted to focus on IC Kollectif as well. I think the way it's not, there's not a contribution an official IABC chapter contribution to IC Kollectif but there is, there are a lot of people that are from IABC. There's a lot of professionals from any other organizations that they share stuff with us.

They participate like any other, it's not more it's not less it's just ... I don't see this thing either as just an IABC, it's not just for IABC members that's what I mean. For Maria when I spoke to her about this project, and Maria she's the person I'm referring to now it's Maria Constantinescu. She's the President of IABC Montreal. She sees this project as the way to build community around best practices and communication in Montreal. Use the chapter as a catalyst to open doors locally and at the international level as well. 

ChuckLet's start digging deeper into the site itself and the resources that are available. You said it's for a variety of different professionals, not just for internal communications but the topics and resources are focused on that. What are some of the resources available? How is the site structured? Maybe even just comment on a few that you've noticed maybe are quite popular that people have checked out.

LiseIt has 4 main subjects if you want, sections I should say. The first one is sources of information and by sources of information what I mean is where the information comes from. To me as an example IABC International that's one source of information. CEB Communication which was formerly Melcrum that's another source of information. IoIC is another one.

Under sources we have a list there of communication organizations, agencies, publications, and then we have there we list also the professional associations. We have within this section as well research and reports the recent ones that have to do with communication. We also have and we're building on blogs for communication professionals. It includes as well a list of relevant Twitter chats and hashtags to follow that has to do with communication at large. There's also a list, well it's not there yet but there will be a list of books and other types of resources which includes glossaries.

This is one section, resources. Then we have the IC Thought Leaders list that I'm sure you've heard of you're in it yourself. Then we have a calendar of global communication conferences and events that takes place around the world. We include whenever we find a new one we include it so we have conferences from now until I think June of next year. Then we have our blog, our own blog too.

ChuckIt's clear you've got a wide variety of resources available that you are adding to probably on a daily or all-the-time basis. How has the internal comms industry at large or specific communicators responded to the efforts you've put forth?

Lise: Well I think we've had a wonderful response I must say. The project was launched on Twitter on February 15 of this year. We've gone from, and it started really on Twitter as you said as you mentioned earlier. We've gone from no followers to 1,000 within 100 days. Then we hit the mark of 2,000 followers before our 6 months anniversary. With more globally let's just say and bringing together in-house communication practitioners, IC thought leaders, consultants, professional associations.

Other people too like people that work in change management field, organizational development, even HR. Those people are from across 5 continents. We've had the chance to meet exceptional people sometimes face-to-face like you Chuck. Having access to the experts, to the ones who are, who really have the experience is what we need to make this resource valuable, right?

Then if we look at success I think that we have to mention our the IC Top Leaders list that I mentioned a while ago that it's on our website. When we ask, and that was in April that was end of April, when we ask our Twitter followers to tell us who were the IC thought leaders that they were reading and listening to, we had an overwhelming response that led to the creation of our now famous, I say famous Top IC Thought Leaders list. I see that as a great response too because we could have Tweeted a question over and over again and might never had any response but we did and it was great. We're still receiving requests to add more people even now.

ChuckYou built this great site that you said those tremendous resources, lists out thought leaders, everything down to LinkedIn groups and blogs and really providing a lot of different channels and varieties for how communicators might want to go and learn more or engage more or find out more content. What are the future plans for IC Kollectif? Where do you see it growing or growing in new areas?

LiseThis website that was launched this summer to me it's really a first phase; it's basic. Now what we want to do is to build on what we have, add more sources and resources in current sections and develop new ones as well. For instance, I find that research is a really important aspect in communication. There's a lot of research that is being done but we just don't know about it. We don't know where to find it, and yet I think it would be very valuable to at least know so that anyone who wants to get access to it can.

We already have a section that is called 'Research & Reports' on our website but eventually we'd like to expand this section and add Academic Communication Research because we'd like to be able to help bridge communication and PR research with global communication professionals.

Another thing too that we'd like to do is introduce guest posts on our new blog by inviting communication professionals and experts to write posts. That's about it for now, we're not a big team, it's just me myself and I for now. I think that if we can grow the website and introduce the research, academic research on it, and also have participation of professionals and experts, I think that will be a great start, and we'll see in the future.

ChuckYou bring up a great point too about research because this is something thatI'm always love finding new data points, new efforts that companies have put toward Internal Comms, employee engagement, employee experience. What happens so often is we get excited about it when it happens and then it's very easy to forget about it because as you said you Google the word internal comms millions of resources become available. The same thing would happen with all these other terms, but I think that you're able now to highlight probably some of the more helpful or insightful research for people to begin learning and digging through.

There is so much out there and there is unfortunately there's a lot of not-so-great stuff but there's also really a lot of valuable information out there. I think by being able to highlight that and feature that for communicators it's going to make it that much easier for them to find.

You talked about wanting to grow this and get it bigger and get people participating, now is your chance to I guess talk about where people can find you, how people can connect with it, and how they can get in touch with you.

LiseYeah. Well visit our website because all our information is there. Our website is at ickollectif.com. They can write to us from our Contact page from the site. Anyone who's on Twitter can follow us on Twitter. It's @IC_Kollectif and you can easily get in touch with us via Twitter. People can also follow us on our Facebook page and LinkedIn page. We have an email too, it's info@ickollectif.com. We are very happy to hear what people have to suggest.

This is a resource for communication professionals so it has to respond to their needs. If there is anything specific that people are looking for and they cannot find it on our website, please let us know. I'm not building this for myself, it's really for communication professionals and it's there to serve a need and that need is yours, so don't be shy. Just drop us a line and we'll be very happy. We'll get back in touch for sure.

ChuckI'm sure you're open to if people find resources that they think others would be available is that best and to also email you or tweet you the link of resources and data whatever that might be, that they also find valuable?

LiseYes of course, yeah that would be great. I look forward to that.

ChuckWell because then it becomes so much inclusive with people being able to contribute because you can't have eyes and ears everywhere, you can only see and find what comes across your view, what you're able to see. I think then if you get the community engaged by sharing with you the content that they find valuable that then makes it you've got this great megaphone now that you can share it with the rest of the industry. I think being able to have people to contribute either whether it's their own resources or other things that they found would make IC Kollectif all that much stronger.

LiseYeah yeah that's great too.

ChuckWell Lise I want to thank you for being a guest on ICology and sharing your thoughts. I know I said you've been a great friend of ICology since I started so I have a great appreciation for the efforts that you're doing and what you're building all on your own so Kudos to you for building this great presence but also building this great resource for the internal comms community.

Lise: Thank you very much for having me today. You have to know it's a privilege for any communication professional to be invited to your show. I really appreciate this opportunity today. It is true, you have to know this.

ChuckWell I appreciate you, you taking the time to do it Lise. For those that aren't familiar now ICology also has a website. You can visit learnicology.com to catch up on old episodes, get to know guests better, read blog posts. Now episode transcriptions are there, check out events. Like I said it's great to have that resource where people can go. You can also follow ICology on Twitter @LearnICology to pick up show announcements as well as other internal comms news. If you're not already a subscriber, listen to ICology on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. If you like what you hear please leave a review, those matter a lot to me.

If Internal Communications is your passion, ICology is your podcast. Thanks for listening in.