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Five things we loved in 2016

You won’t find any raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens in this list, but 44’s Sarah Woods takes a look at a few of her favourite things to happen this year.

It’s been a year of ups and downs – one might even describe it as an annus horribilis if it didn’t sound so much like an uncomfortable health condition.

But you know what they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day. There had to be a few times when 2016 got it right. So here are five of my favourite things from the year with some internal comms takeaways thrown in for good measure.

1. Boaty McBoatface

When the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) reached out to the British public with the #NameOurShip campaign,[1] ridiculous suggestions were always going to be on the horizon.

And the public did not disappoint. Beating other deserving suggestions – such as the RRS I Like Big Boats & I Cannot Lie – RRS Boaty McBoatface was the outright winner.

But in the end common sense prevailed. After the Research Council decided that the vote was just a suggestion and wasn’t binding, the £200m ship was named fittingly after national treasure Sir David Attenborough.

Internal comms takeaway: Humour and engaging your audience are both powerful tools in internal comms, when used in the right context.

2. Michelle Obama Carpool Karaoke

James Corden has had some pretty impressive people riding shotgun in his car, but none more so than the First Lady of the United States.

In July, the chat show host turned chauffeur to the stars took Michelle Obama on a ride around the White House grounds. While rocking out to some of her favourite tunes we were given an insight into her life, ambitions and relationship with her husband, the President.

And with close to 50 million views on YouTube – it’s clear that the public are interested in the people behind the most powerful job in the world.

Internal comms takeaway: For someone in power, such as a CEO or director – it can make a real difference when employees get to know who they are. People get behind real people, not job titles.

3. Rio 2016

For most of the year I couldn’t be less interested in watching sport on TV, but somehow the Olympics casts its spell on the world – which explains why #Rio2016 was the highest globally trending topic of the year. [2]

The discipline that really had me hooked this year was the cycling. Despite some of the events looking like they were dreamt up by a drunk person (what is with the Sprint event? To begin with, no one is sprinting…) the action and drama in the velodrome was addictive. But as well as investing in Team GB, you invest in the people.

The country fell in love with super cyclists Laura Trott and Jason Kenny. The combination of seeing such determined and hardworking athletes winning multiple gold medals, coupled with the fact they were engaged, just added that extra human element to the story that we all loved. So on your bikes Richard and Judy – there’s a new power couple in town.

Internal comms takeaway: If you can get your employees interested in other people’s stories then you’re well on the way to keeping them engaged.

4. Tim Peake in space

Major Tim Peake spent the first six months of 2016 as the first official British astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

As well as doing important space stuff, Peake presented a Global success award to Adele, completed the London Marathon on a treadmill and took part in a live webcast for school children – all from outer space.

Major Tim used social media to interact with the world in a way that hasn’t been possible in the past. An important part of his mission was engaging with the public and schools through social media, inspiring future generations of astronauts and scientists. Mission accomplished, I’d say.

Internal comms takeaway: It’s not rocket science – by using technology and social media effectively, companies can engage with people and get them to join in with conversations that weren’t possible in the past.

5. Giant Pandas move off the endangered list

In September the WWF announced that Giant Pandas are no longer on the endangered list. [3] Not only is this great news for everyone’s favourite monochrome mammals, but it represents progress in conservation, and a shift in how people feel about our planet.

You only have to look at the viewing figures for Planet Earth II to know that people are interested and invested in our planet. David Attenborough (the man, not the boat) exploring the natural world has become the most watched natural history documentary in more than 15 years. [4]

Internal comms takeaway: For businesses looking to attract the best talent as well as customer loyalty, corporate social responsibility isn’t just important, it’s a necessity.

What have been your highlights of 2016?

Merry Christmas from all of us at 44!


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