Celebrating Learning at Work Week

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It’s Learning at Work Week this week, led by the Campaign for Learning.

In recognition, members of the CIPR Education & Skills Committee share their tips for learning during a lockdown, and reflect on the learning opportunities that have made a lasting impact on their careers.

Contributing their views are:

  • Charlotte Diamond, Director, Sidekick PR
  • Suzy Giles, Managing Director, Giles Global Communications
  • Adam Harwood, Media Relations Manager, AAT
  • Dee Reid, Director of External Relations, Leeds Beckett University
  • Christine Richardson, Group Senior External Communications Manager, Oxford University Press

How are you continuing to learn during lockdown?

Charlotte: ‘I’ve taken part in a number of webinars and ordered a number of books. I particularly like the panel style webinars (they appeal to my short attention span and keep things lively). Many organisations have moved their learning online and it has been great to find sessions at accessible times and on very relevant topics. These things need to be kept fresh though. Already we are seeing the same people leading the sessions for a number of different organisations, and variety of speakers is key.’

Suzy: ‘
I’m taking advantage of the plethora of podcasts, webinars and articles, especially HBR and McKinsey. There is so much out there at the moment and currently so much more for free that it’s a great opportunity. A favourite podcasts: Discovered “Castbox” and listened to The Red Box Politics Podcast (Alistair Campbell on crisis comms!) I’m also doing the AMEC International Certificate in Communications Measurement, just to keep me ticking over!’

Adam: ‘Lockdown has resulted in furlough for me, and therefore the unusual position of actually having time on my hands. I’ve part filled this with looking at the various free online courses provided by the Open University – in particular, one on succeeding in a digital world. I’m conscious working in media of being left behind by technological advances, not least in editing and presenting quality short online videos, and this has been my main focus. In addition, I’ve sought to get my CPD from the CIPR off to a good start this year, and am about to get myself a mentor through their new Progress scheme.

Dee: So much of my time is now spent in front of a screen that I’ve tried to prioritise learning that means I’m not in front of a laptop. Books – both written and spoken have been fantastic. And they make the daily walk feel productive too. Having said the above, learning to use MS Teams has helped me become more efficient and reduced the impact on the inbox!

Christine:Finding time to learn during lockdown has been a challenge as I’m having to look after a rather active toddler, alongside working full-time. I’ve been trying to allocate a small amount of time each week to learning, even if it’s just thirty minutes, which might seem like overkill, but I find that kind of structure really helps me stick to it. So far I’ve taken part in free webinars from the CIPR and PR Moment, read a number of relevant industry articles, and attend virtual industry events. Last week for example, I joined the briefing on the Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update.

What learning activity or event has had – or will have – the biggest impact on you, and why?

Charlotte:My masters in strategic communication covered so many wonderful topics from rhetoric to internal communication and gave me the opportunity, via my dissertation to further explore the world of crisis communication. The PR Fest weekly chats have also proven to be informative and fun, they provide a relaxed space for communication professionals to get together and share what is on their minds. These sessions have thrown up some really interesting topics and been a great way to impart knowledge and to learn from the experience of others.’

Adam: ‘Aside from the fact it’s worth 20 CPD points alone, I think the mentoring scheme is likely to have the biggest impact on me this year. I gained Chartered status through the CIPR at the back end of 2019 and I’m keen to see how that can further me professionally. Having an experienced PR practitioner mentor me is, I believe, going to help me on that process and I’m excited to see what the scheme has in store. In addition, the March Covid-19 crisis communications webinar (with PR Academy course leader Chris Tucker) gave me some useful tips right at a critical point for communicating how the initial phases of lockdown would impact our business and therefore upon our stakeholders.’

Suzy: ‘By far it was my CIPR Diploma with the PR Academy. Everything I have done since then in my work has had better structure and decent objectives – and I grew in confidence.’

Dee: I count myself lucky to have taken part in Investment in Excellence run by The Pacific Institute. It was by far the best learning I’ve ever done. The programme is based on cognitive psychology and the guiding principle is that everyone had unlimited capacity for growth and creativity. Even though it was over 17 years ago, I still use the techniques on a daily basis.

Christine:Like Suzy, I really benefited from my CIPR Diploma with the PR Academy. I completed it when I was still relatively new in the industry, and it really helped to shape the way I approach my work. I’m a really big advocate for coaching and mentoring too. Taking the time to self-reflect, address different challenges or issues, and learn from others’ perspectives has been so valuable throughout my career, and has since inspired me to mentor others. I was also lucky enough to attend a training session on inspirational leadership through Aspire a few years ago which was eye opening and incredibly motivating.’

For learning inspiration, check out the courses and learning resources available through the CIPR. There are also links to a number of free training resources via the Campaign for Learning website.

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