A day in the life of…Martin Flegg

In our second feature of ‘A day in the life…’ we say hello to Martin Flegg, Internal and Change Communications Advisor at the University of Bradford and CIPRInside Committee member:







I am responsible for

All the internal communications at the University for around 1800 members of staff, and some student communications.  I’m also the lead communication advisor for the university’s change programme, which underpins our 10 year strategy.

My day

I’m always up and about quite early and my day starts with a swim in the university pool. Apart from the benefits of the exercise, swimming is also a great opportunity for some thinking time and this is where I usually map out how I’m going to approach whatever the day or week holds.

I usually hit the office about 8:30. There are just two of us working on internal communications, covering a wide range of activities and projects, so we are always very busy. Internal communications is a part of the marketing directorate at the university. There is always a buzz in the office and I enjoy being alongside colleagues who are working on marketing, PR, student recruitment, content development, social media and press.

First job of the day is to check all our feedback email accounts and see what’s come in from staff, respond to this or get it to the right person.  Then I could be into a meeting with colleagues leading the other departmental functions to discuss requests for marketing and communications work that have come in from across the university. Not everything we receive needs some internal communication, but this sort of meeting is a great way to understand what everyone is up to and to align our internal and external communications activities. I try and keep some time free in the day to complete any drafting work or communications planning, although that doesn’t always happen if something else crops up during the day……and it often does!

I usually leave work about 5:30pm. My driving commute is about half an hour. Bradford is a relatively small city surrounded by some outstanding Yorkshire countryside where I am very lucky to live. You can see Wuthering Heights from my back garden!

My week

Mondays are Staff Briefing day, which goes out on email and the intranet to everyone working at the University, including colleagues working on our two Bradford campuses and in our offices in Dubai and China.  The bigger meetings I attend, such as our Change Programme Board, usually happen earlier in the week. After that I could be working with academics, advising and planning how to communicate changes to the University’s courses, then completely changing tack to work through with HR on how to consult on structural changes or implement new polices, then working with project managers on student retention activities, procurement or IT implementations. There is never a dull moment, but that’s what I like about working in internal communications.

What I am working on

Apart from all the routine and project based communications I’m working on, I undertook an internal communications audit shortly after I joined the university. The results of this ended up as a series of recommendations for improvements which I presented to the University Executive Board. With their agreement and support I am now implementing those recommendations, which over the next 12 to 18 months, will see our internal communications transition out of purely ‘broadcast’ using email and intranet towards a more two-way, discussion based approach using things such as Executive Board Drop Ins and a regular Managers Briefing.

Implementing changes like this are not easy in any organisation, but there are some early signs that people are starting to understand and appreciate the business benefits of this sort of internal communications approach.

How I make internal communications count where I work

I’m a big believer in trying to come up with internal communication strategies, plans and approaches which play to how people naturally communicate as human beings. So, that means using more two-way and discussion base communication techniques that allow people across the organisation to connect and then challenge, explore, question and test. Think about the last really good conversation you had with someone, it probably included most of these things.

For me, trying to replicate some of that in what we do is how we get internal communications to truly support the business where we work. We’ll be covering much more about how to make internal communications count at the CIPR Inside annual conference on 1 November 2017.

How I made Internal Communications my career

I suppose that, quite by accident, I just stumbled into internal communications many years ago. At that point it wasn’t even called internal communications!

I actually started out as a Tax Inspector, working for what was then known as the Inland Revenue.  Someone spotted that I was good at writing and communications work, so I was moved on to write technical and procedural guidance for staff working in the department and from there ended up in a series of communication and marketing roles in central government.

I really committed to working in internal communications about 7 years ago, when I studied for the CIPR Internal Communications Certificate and Diploma qualifications. Studying for those taught me a lot about developing more strategic approaches to internal communications and the professionalism you need to develop to get on in the PR industry. It also made me more curious about what working in an internal communications role outside of government might be like, and I subsequently made the leap out of that and now work in higher education.

Why I joined CIPR Inside, and the committee

I joined CIPR Inside and the committee because I wanted to broaden my network and help develop and support the internal communications profession. There are lots of people working in internal communications that do it on their own or in very small teams, with very little practical or professional support from their organisations. My being a member of CIPR Inside, and sharing my experience, hopefully contributes to helping people to plug that gap a little.

My proudest moment

In my last job, I built a change communications function from scratch and led a long running communications campaign to build engagement with the organisations long term strategy. It was amazing to see all that that work really pay off for the business in so many different ways.

The best part of my job

The best part is definitely the diversity of the work which I get involved with. At the moment I’m working on a project with our Research and Innovation Team to help them grow the amount of research activity at the university.

It’s a real privilege to be an, albeit, small part of an organisation which is doing research into things which will have a huge impact on improving people’s lives and society in the future, such as advances in dementia treatment and new clean engine technologies.

The worst part of my job

I’m not just a post office for SOS (sending out stuff)…..enough said!

What I would do, if not for internal comms (plan B)

When I was at school I wanted to be a scientist, but I spectacularly failed my A ‘levels and my plans for a glittering career in Pharmacy ended up in tatters. I eventually got my science degree through the Open University and I’ve always loved biology and life sciences in general.

I recently became a beekeeper. It’s a fascinating hobby and I’ve enjoyed learning about all the physiology and biology that helps you work successfully with the bees to get them to produce enough honey so you can take a share of the crop. Perhaps I’ll end up being a bee scientist or something like that!

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-flegg-mcipr-37b6304b/

@martinflegg https://twitter.com/martinflegg

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