Making an individual contribution

Being named among your peers as someone who has made an outstanding contribution to your profession is something to make anyone really proud.

With the #insidestory 2016 awards deadline approaching we wanted to put the spotlight on the Clare Latham award that does just that – recognises people for their individual contribution to internal communication and employee engagement.ISA2016_CIPRInside_co_uk - 750x500px

We launched this award with scarlettabbott for the 2014 awards. So, now we have two winners and four highly commended winners who’ve made a significant impact on our profession and been recognised at the past awards.

The team at scarlettabbott were looking for a way to mark Clare Latham’s outstanding contribution to internal communication since she passed away in June 2013. This award was a great way for the team to do just that.

The Best individual contribution to internal communication has become known as the Clare Latham award.


Rachel Miller

Rachel Miller

Winner – Rachel Miller

Highly commended – Fiona Alsop

Highly commended – Sean Trainor


James_Harkness resized

James Harkness

Winner – James Harkness

Highly commended – Nikki Griffiths

Highly commended – Saskia Jones


We recently spoke to the two winners, both well known in our industry, James Harkness and Rachel Miller who both shared their experience of winning the award with us in the below Q&As.


What have been the best things for you about winning the award?


It was an honour to meet Clare’s brother at the awards in 2014 and learn about her. I’m proud to have won and have my work recognised through this award. There’s something particularly special about the fact it’s in Clare’s name and is uniquely individual. I encourage other comms pros to consider entering.


I’m really fortunate that I knew Clare Latham.  We worked together at Burson-Marsteller and Clare joined us from Tesco.  She was a great consultant, direct, energetic and hugely focused on delivery.  She had a wonderful sense of humour. So the fact that the award was in Clare’s memory made me feel quite differently (and positively) about the award.  What’s more was that Rachel Miller had won the Award in its inaugural year.  So what great foot steps to follow in!


What is your advice to anyone considering entering the award?


I’m encouraged to see the award now includes a panel discussion. If you’re thinking about entering, go for it. Those panel conversations alone could be helpful for your career.


I think what is particularly positive about entering any award (and why I would encourage people to enter their work for awards) is that, it makes you reflect on what you’ve done, why you’ve done it and think through what you’ve achieved.  And I think pausing to reflect on why certain things happened in a certain order are healthy.  You obviously learn from that experience too.

engageforsuccess quote

What have been your favourite aspects of your career in internal comms and employee engagement?


Too many to list! I love seeing the transformational difference effective communication has on individuals and organisations. One of my favourite aspects is the sheer variety.

I offer senior level counsel to comms pros, and never know what I’m going to be asked to advise on. From running focus groups with tiger keepers at London Zoo to helping launch the Italian version of Engage for Success in Rome, the variety of my career constantly invigorates me.

I have three very young children (my daughter is three and my twins are 10-months-old), and being able to work in a field that enables me to balance my work and home life is crucial. I genuinely enjoy my work, which spills into how we operate as a family.



What I enjoy most about working in internal comms is getting under the skin of what a business is trying to achieve and understand how IC will help achieve this. Sometimes there’s not real consensus on the ambition or the goals and that’s what makes our job so interesting.  I also think IC is one of the few disciplines where everyone has an opinion about how it should be done and people often go straight to tactics and channels rather than stopping to think through what they are trying to say and what the outputs should be.


What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced working in internal comms and employee engagement?


One of the biggest challenges comms pros face is communicating difficult news, such as the death of a colleague or restructures. I started my career as a journalist and learnt the importance of versatility and empathy early on. I’ve found my own methods for handling challenges and keeping focused on what I’m trying to achieve. I recommend equipping yourself with a good mentor and network of comms pros.


How has winning the award helped you professionally / personally?


I always welcome the opportunity to constantly improve what I do, and getting constructive feedback from peers through awards analysis is useful. Winning the award came at a time when my business was less than a year old, so it was a personal and professional boost to my confidence.


What have you spent your bursary on? And why did you choose to spend it this way?


After thinking long and hard, I bought some excellent comms books and a newspaper subscription to keep up-to-date during my maternity leave in 2015. I wrote about the bursary and my choices via my blog after crowdsourcing ideas of how to spend it.


The other great element of the Clare Latham award is a bursary for your own development.  This is one of the best things about this award.  But I suppose I’ve been so careful to spend it wisely I’m only half way through the process!!  But I’ll pick this up in the next few weeks and complete my spending spree.  What I’ve already spent it on is resources that I can keep and share and that will benefit my own learning and development.


Where does your award plaque live?


My award plaque is currently packed in a box as I’m preparing to move house, but it used to live on a shelf in my office.


My award sits with our other awards in the office in our meeting room.  I do feel in many ways the award is recognition of our broader achievements so sits happily with other CIPR Awards (and of course, other professional organisations who will be nameless)!!  With the Clare Latham Award there’s a recipient award to keep as well as the stone trophy which is passed on to the next winner.





Congratulations to both James and Rachel for their achievements and of course winning the awards. So, who will win this year’s award?


Read about the categories and the entry process here.


See who won previous years here.


Remember that this year we’ve added to this award category, providing more benefits for the winner and highly commended winners to take advantage of. Read more about that here.

Early deadline is Friday 20 November, and late entries will be accepted until 6pm on Friday 27 November.

Good luck.


Image credit: CIPR Inside images, profiles from James and Rachel. Featured image: CCO

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