Rachel Miller is the author of the hugely popular All Things IC, which was recently ranked in the Top 10 UK PR Blogs. Specialising in internal comms, Rachel is a consultant and trainer and has worked with some of the biggest brands in the UK.
We caught up with Rachel after she featured in the ranking to talk relationships between influencers and PRs, issues facing the PR industry and her advice for people wanting a career in comms.
What makes your blog successful?
I’m proud my All Things IC blog has helped thousands of practitioners learn about communication, PR and social media through the 1,200 articles I’ve published.
What makes it successful? Readers tell me it’s the fact I’ve been consistently publishing articles since 2009 to help solve their problems. I take time to listen to what the gaps are in their knowledge and ensure I have content to help them develop professionally. This is now at the core of my consultancy and readers know I save the really good stuff for my clients. However, anyone can access internal communication ideas and inspiration daily.
What has writing a blog taught you about the way bloggers see the PR/influencer relationship?
I started my career as a journalist in 1999, but it wasn’t until 10 years into my career that I started to work out loud via my blog to share my thinking. Blogging has underlined the importance of relationships and professional networks.
Forming effective relationships was critical to my success as a journalist and, over the years, those same skills have been amplified and enhanced by my work as a consultant and blogger.
My work has taught me the most powerful influencers an organisation has are its people. Peer-to-peer communication from employees can transform a company from the inside out.
My blogging strategy from day one has been to be fiercely independent. I’ve never accepted payment to blog or had a sponsored post. The only adverts you’ll find on my website are the latest comms vacancies on my jobs board. I know my readers value my independence and I’m transparent about the way I work. For example, if I receive a guest pass for an event, I always declare it and take the trust my readers place in me seriously.
What’s the biggest issue facing PR today?
So many! I think trust, or lack thereof, is a huge one. With fake news on the rise, we need to be smarter when it comes to ensuring our organisations are honest, credible and truthful in their communications. Professional communicators need to take accountability and champion authenticity at every opportunity.
What are the biggest changes to the PR industry you’ve seen over your career?
The way we work and where we work has changed dramatically. The smoke-filled newsroom I stepped into the week before my 19th birthday as a trainee journalist – with faxes, a dark room, a microfiche machine and one computer able to access the internet – is in stark contrast to the way I work today.
That accessibility to content, ideas and ability to share from devices that fit in the palm of our hand has increased the ‘always-on’ mentality. However, it’s also created opportunities for practitioners to design and deliver workflows and patterns that suits them.
We’ve also shifted from content creators to content curators and that opens organisations up to a vibrancy and reality we’ve not experienced before.
Will print die out altogether?
No. Print is thriving in many organisations as the most appropriate way to get information to the right people at the right time. There’s a booming business in internal communication for print.
I always want to see how employee voice is amplified and how it is coupled with opportunities for two-way communication. You need to combine print with two-way channels and chances for your workforce to play an active part in shaping your company’s ideas, conversations and culture.
What’s the best social platform?
A medium is only social if it allows for interaction and I interact in different ways across various platforms. For example, LinkedIn is how I share content and promote the work practitioners are doing, I work out loud and network via Twitter, I use Pinterest to spark visual inspiration before creating a talk and use closed Facebook groups to connect with other entrepreneurs in my professional life and fellow parents in my personal life.
What’s better, agency or in-house?
I spent a decade working in-house and loved it. I’ve been running All Things IC consultancy for five years and cannot imagine doing anything else. One of the many joys of my role is the opportunity to work closely with in-house practitioners and teams. I run monthly masterclasses to train them and offer 1-2-1 mentoring and team days. So, I’m fortunate to have the best of both worlds through the way I’ve designed my business.
What advice would you give someone looking to work in comms?
Do it! Learn as much as you can and be constantly curious. Ask questions and join networks to discover other practitioners. I’ve featured 200 comms pros on my blog over the years and love learning from their stories.
How do you work with PRs as a blogger?
I rarely have good experiences! It’s so frustrating to be subjected to pitches that start: ‘Dear blogger’ – if you clearly haven’t taken the time to discover my name or understand my niche, that’s a relationship which is a non-starter.
My readers love peer-to-peer communication and learning from each other. They want to read articles from other professional communicators and how they are solving their organisation’s problems.
If I’m pitched a product or service I say no the majority of the time. However, if a tech provider comes to me with a brilliant client story, written by the client, I’m more likely to consider it. I’m protective of my blog and want to uphold its quality rather than dilute it with inappropriate content. In short: my blog, my rules.
What’s your favourite PR campaign from the last year?
I don’t have a particular favourite, but enjoy reading the number one blog on the PR ranking, PR Examples to discover who’s doing what.
What other blogs do you read?
I read so many blogs! I’m a regular reader of the ones on the top 10 list, which I’m honoured to be part of. I’ve also been trying to uncover new voices and bloggers within the IC world and offer them a platform over the past few months.
Rachel Miller and All Things IC are both listed on the Vuelio Influencer Database along with thousands of other leading bloggers, journalists and editors.