Our work with
Malcolm McClaren once said that ‘stealing is a glorious occupation – particularly in the art world.’ That was the ethos behind Stand Up With Words, an event that we first ran for a 40-strong internal communications team at Lloyds Banking Group.
At the time, LBG was faced with a major operational challenge: integrating the separate back office functions of all the different component parts of the group. We worked with the Group Operations division – the 35,000 people who had to make integration happen.
The team we worked with was responsible for explaining to those people exactly what their senior managers expected from them, for keeping them updated on progress, and for motivating them if they started to flag. The only way they could do that was with words: newsletters, pages on the intranet, and speeches, blogs and emails from directors. They’d had some training before, but it hadn’t gone down well. They told us it had felt too much like an English lesson. It’s not good to be critical when people are working twice as hard as normal.
We took a different approach. We created a one-day event designed to inspire people about what was possible. We wanted to encourage them to see the aspirational as achievable. So we showed the team some fantastic pieces of communication, not from their sector, not even from the world of business, but drawn instead from fiction, drama, poetry and journalism. We looked at Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning prose. We looked at Oscar and Emmy winning drama. We even analysed the rhetoric of Jeremy Clarkson. We presented all this to people through a mixture of media, including video, audio, print and online.
We talked about what made these pieces work so well, and we lifted the lid on the techniques the writers used, encouraging people to steal the best ideas. We also used clips of their own directors talking, looking at what made them convincing, and showing people ways to reflect their strengths in their own writing. Through the day, we kept a tally of what we’d learned. And at the end, the team prioritised some goals that they wanted to set for their own communication.
The session was received really positively. When people were asked how useful they found it, they gave us an average score of 4.6 out of 5. We’ve since delivered the event to a number of other businesses of different shapes and sizes. We like it so much that we’ve even made it part of our own induction programme for new Quietroom people.