INTERVIEW

 

 

Lee Smith

Director and Co-founder of Gatehouse

 

The State of the Sector 2018 marks the 10th edition of the annual survey produced by Gatehouse. Lee Smith, Director and Co-founder of Gatehouse, answers a few questions about the most comprehensive annual internal communication and employee engagement research to date.

Ten years ago, you decided to launch State of the Sector, an annual survey covering all aspects of the internal communication profession. Can you tell us why?

 

We launched State of the Sector in 2008, just two years after Gatehouse was founded. At the time, the internal communication profession was still very immature, and there were very few resources dedicated to it specifically.

We established this as an annual census to gain a better understanding of IC practices, channels and challenges. It was deliberately practical in its focus – this was never an academic exercise for us, but rather something that helped practitioners do what they need to do.

 

The survey has evolved over the years. In the early days it was focused on specific industry sectors, but we quickly broadened it out as the common challenges became clear. 

After 10 years, the research has allowed us to gather a considerable amount of benchmark data and to paint a fascinating picture of the moving IC landscape and the progress we are making as professionals.

You mentioned that the research has evolved over the years. What changed?

 

The first few editions of the research focused on tactics and channels. Our primary objective at the time was to understand how practitioners made sure that their messages were heard. As the profession moved from a ‘broadcast’ model, to one of engagement, we started to increasingly focus on listening strategies, feedback channels and measurement.

 

Technology has also been a driver, as a considerable portion of the survey is now dedicated to interactive digital channels and social media. A few years ago, we also introduced a whole section about planning and strategy to reflect the increasing importance for internal communicators to position themselves as trusted advisors and to operate in a more robust, professional way…

What has been the impact of State of the Sector over the profession so far? Read our interview.

The story behind the State of the Sector 2018 marking the 10th edition of the annual survey produced by @gatehousegroup 

In its own small way, I do believe that it has contributed to driving the internal communication profession forward. Every year, the report generates lots of discussion and debate and it contributes to identifying key areas for improvement.  In our own commentary, we are not shy about underlining our professional weaknesses and knowledge gaps – and recommending how to plug these. 

ABOUT Lee Smith

Lee Smith has spent more than half his life in the communication business – a career that has spanned nearly three decades, covered both internal and external communication disciplines and in-house and agency roles. 

Prior to co-founding Gatehouse, the go-to internal communication agency, in 2006, Lee held senior positions with some of the UK’s leading financial and professional services organisations. Today he advises a wealth of blue chip businesses on how to engage, motivate and inspire their employees.  

He is a Fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (FCIPR) and the Institute of Internal Communication (FIIC) and former chair of CIPR Inside. He holds an MSc in Corporate Communication & Reputation Management.

How would you describe the impact of State of the Sector over the profession?

What started as an experiment has grown to become a significant benchmark for in-house internal communicators. Many of our clients use it as a way to understand where they stand and to identify gaps in their internal communication practices.  It has become a tool to guide strategy development too. We receive many hundreds of requests for it each year and many recipients now eagerly await the annual report. 

 

In its own small way, I do believe that it has contributed to driving the internal communication profession forward. Every year, the report generates lots of discussion and debate and it contributes to identifying key areas for improvement.  In our own commentary, we are not shy about underlining our professional weaknesses and knowledge gaps – and recommending how to plug these. 

When is the survey running, and why should IC pros take the time to complete it?

 

The survey launched on 6 November 2017 and will run until 30 November: www.gatehouse.co.uk/sos2018. State of the Sector is aimed primarily at in-house communication professionals all over the world. Being the most comprehensive survey of its type, it takes around 10-15 minutes to complete. So, in return for their time, respondents will receive a pre-launch soft copy of the full report which they will be able to use as part of their planning. They will also be entered into a prize draw for the opportunity to win a place at Accelerate, our four-day IC masterclass, together with a full year of IoIC membership - a combined value of more than £3,200.

 

When will the report be published?

 

The report will be published in early February 2018 on Gatehouse website, as well as on our partners’ websites (including IC Kollectif!). We will follow up with a webinar to introduce the key findings and give people a chance to ask questions. The best way to make sure that you get the full report is by taking the survey at www.gatehouse.co.uk/sos2018 and/or signing up for our updates at www.gatehouse.co.uk/signup.

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