Countdown to #InsideStory Awards – hear from one of last year’s winners



As we count down to this year’s #insidestory awards party, we hear from one of last year’s winners, John Townsend, as to why it meant so much to him to take the Clare Latham award in 2016… over to John…

There are few moments in life more pregnant with that anticipatory mixture of hope and expected disappointment than the seconds before an announcement is made in your awards category. So almost a year on from the 2016 CIPR award at the Curzon cinema I can still remember the pleasant tingle of astonishment when my name was called out in the final category of the evening as the winner of the Clare Latham award.

Now I’m definitely biased, but to my mind the Clare Latham award feels like a particularly special one to win. (I know this may sound like my award cabinet is bulging and I’m pulling out a pipe and nostalgically picking my favourites – but believe me that couldn’t be further from the case, so allow me this indulgence if you will..) Firstly it’s an award that you need to be nominated for, so immediately just having someone take the time to enter you in for it means that it’s a lovely, altruistic expression of confidence in you. Secondly it’s one of only two individual awards that CIPR Inside run, so you don’t need to share the glory with anyone else! Thirdly, once you’re on the shortlist, the award is in part determined by the number of online votes you receive. This meant that it was a great excuse to get in touch with different colleagues and to (modestly of course) spread the word amongst my current organisation. As a result I also had a great excuse to tell everyone that I had won the following week!

Finally, and most importantly, the award is sponsored by the agency Scarlett Abbot in memory of their colleague Clare, who tragically died of cancer in 2013. I certainly felt that Clare’s story and the origins of the award bestowed a distinct responsibility to try to live up to the expectation to be a great communicator this year.

Aside from the anticipated ribbing at work for the first few weeks (tip for this year’s award winners – expect any difficult issue in meetings to be gleefully pivoted to the “award winner in the room”) it’s been a great experience. Aside from my family – who I apparently rarely call and who still doubt that I can work in communications – the award has also definitely lent a bit of gravitas to my work. An important part of internal communications is having the confidence to make your voice – and those of other colleagues – heard by senior leaders and having the kudos of an award in your corner certainly helps in this regard.

Part of the prize has been to join the CIPR Inside Committee and it’s been very interesting to attend committee meetings, to be a small part of the planning process for their events and to hear the experiences of so many other IC professionals. I’ve also had more opportunities this year as a result of the award to liaise with others in the industry – I was invited to present at an “ask the guru” session on storytelling and met with a lot of interesting people at last year’s CIPR conference. Although we internal communicators tend to enjoy a networking session, it’s rare to be able to work alongside others in the industry and to see all the different perspectives that entails. Furthermore having worked in charities for most of the last decade, it’s been fascinating to work alongside freelancers and corporate communicators more this year.

I sincerely hope that this year’s winner of the Clare Latham Award, and of course all of the other categories, enjoy the night and the award as much as I have. It should be a wonderful event this year at London Zoo – a bit cagey at times of course 😉 – and I’m looking forward to hearing more about other people’s work. Best of luck and fingers crossed for everyone who is entered this year.

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