‘The freedom to learn what I wanted to learn’

Katie Marlow, Director at Little Bird Communication, speaks about the benefit of CIPR membership.

What has CIPR membership given you throughout your career?

I’ve been a member since I was a student studying PR at Bournemouth University. For my first few years working, I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that membership brings. I found it difficult to get to events and my employers weren’t that supportive of giving me time or financial support to do the training.

Since working for myself I’ve really made the most of the benefits. The best thing that I’ve got from my membership is an amazing network of friends, colleagues and sources of inspiration and support.

  • Super peers
  • Skills and knowledge
  • Confidence

In hindsight, I wish I’d done more for myself earlier rather than hoping I’d get the support from my employers. Of course, with tech it’s much easier now to connect with people and take advantage of the benefits of membership.

What did sitting on the Inside committee do you for your career?

I was on the Wessex committee for a couple of years and the Inside committee for about five years.

Being involved at this level brought me even closer to other members and the wider communications community and that’s invaluable. Being part of such an active group like CIPR Inside, I’ve been able to make a real difference helping the group develop and deliver the awards and a range of events and webinars. As a member you understand what members want and being able to help make that happen is great for your own development and supporting the profession.

Why do you do CPD?

I’m a self-confessed comms geek. I’ve got a learning bug.

For me, CPD provides structure to my learning, keeps me up to date with the latest professional developments, builds my knowledge and my network and boosts my confidence as an independent professional.

It’s only recently dawned on me that I actually need to keep learning. For the first ten years of my career working in house after my degree, I stopped actively learning outside of work. But once I started working independently, I knew that it would give me the freedom to learn what I wanted to learn in support of my work and my own development.

I signed up to CPD and started with the free webinars, reading books and joining a local network for freelancers. That network has been a huge support over the last seven years and has grown from five to over 25 members. If you work for yourself and don’t have a network like this, create one and use the CIPR to support you in doing it. It’s invaluable.

I completed the internal comms diploma in 2015. I’ve been to numerous events over the years, continue to read and join webinars, been an active committee member and most recently I went for the Chartership Assessment Day, and happily I passed.

Can you think of a favourite resource, training course or webinar that really delivered beyond expectation?

My inner geek loved doing the internal comms diploma. It was hard to find the time needed to study at this level as well as run my business and balance family life. However, going back to study a subject I love in-depth was really rewarding and inspiring. I’ve continued to find what I learned during the diploma useful for my professional work.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years and how will CIPR membership help you achieve those goals? 

As part of the Chartership Assessment process I developed a two year CPD plan and I’m currently developing my three-year business strategy. Businesses are now facing constant change and uncertainty. This has a direct and immediate impact on independent professionals like myself. It presents opportunities as well as challenges.

Communicators need more than ever before to deliver authentic communication, driven by deep insights, which connects with people. I’m planning to build my knowledge further in measurement and keen to learn about neuroscience and anthropology which supports my fascination with making businesses work better for the people that work for them. I hope that CIPR can help me with this knowledge.

As members we need CIPR to continue championing its members as professionals who are trusted strategic advisors for clients and employers.

I would love to see CIPR giving members the social platform to connect and communicate directly with each other. LinkedIn doesn’t do this as well as other platforms like slack or even yammer. The members are CIPR’s biggest asset and we all benefit from being connected to support each other.

Katie is an independent communication professional, providing support to businesses of all shapes and sizes to help them communicate better from the inside out. @ktmarlow

Find out how CIPR membership will help accelerate your PR career.

There’s no joining fee if you come on board in March.


Posted in CIPR, CPD, Public Relations

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