How to get CIPR Chartered

Last month I took the plunge to become Chartered. It was one of the most tiring, yet utterly rewarding days of professional development I have ever experienced.

I want to thank CIPR Inside who provided me with a one-off learning bursary as part of the package of goodies for winning the Future Leader Award at the Inside Story Awards this year.

Continue reading “How to get CIPR Chartered”


15 things I’ve learnt so far from LG Comms Future Leader Programme

I am on the 2017 LG Comms Future Leader Programme and I’m very glad I took the time to fill in the application form. I followed the journey of the previous cohort and knew I’d get a lot from the scheme. I didn’t quite realise how much value I would wring from this opportunity already.
To kick the programme off, there were Best Practice days in London last month. These were two of the most valuable days of CPD I have done in the last five years. We heard from some awesome people in our industry, and we also had the space to consider what sort of leaders we want to become. It left me with a lot to take on board.

Continue reading “15 things I’ve learnt so far from LG Comms Future Leader Programme”

PR Week: So, you want my job?


Earlier this year I took part in PR Week’s ‘So, you want my job?” feature, to give an insider look at my role within the fire and rescue service.

The original article was published on PR Week.


Sarah Roberts


Comms Manager, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Starting salary/salary band for the job: 

£35k upwards

What qualifications do you need? 
A degree or relevant equivalent experience. A professional qualification does help and shows commitment to continuous learning – I completed the CIPR Diploma and this was a fantastic foundation to build upon and my next step is to become Chartered.

CIPR Inside Story Awards 2017 win at the Zoo

After being nominated by my incredibly supportive line manager, I was shortlisted within the Future Leader category for the CIPR Inside Story Awards.

I was asked to submit a paper on the value of internal communications, what my top achievements in my career have been and what I thought the future had in store for IC. Following this, I was shortlisted alongside four other talented people, and we were all invited to attend a panel interview with some of the top IC professionals in the business. This 30 minute session was one of the toughest I have been involved with – and as it was held in the December – I wouldn’t get to find out how it went until February!

Continue reading “CIPR Inside Story Awards 2017 win at the Zoo”

PR Week: Empower emergency service employees to take over social media for added authenticity

So far this year we’ve learnt that trust in government institutions, media, businesses and NGOs has plummeted to an all-time low.

Set against this backdrop, change is coming thick and fast in the public sector. Devolution, digital transformation and fire service reform are all on the horizon, and comms professionals, more than ever, need to think about how they are going to keep pace.

At a time when budgets are falling, leadership teams’ expectations of what comms departments need to deliver have never been higher.

And what’s clear is that it’s not just about doing more with less; it’s about being more impactful with what you’ve got.

Continue reading “PR Week: Empower emergency service employees to take over social media for added authenticity”

2016 Book Challenge in the bag!

So 2016 is up and I’ve managed to complete the 52 week book challenge. Overall I’ve enjoyed most of the books I have read this year – I discovered Bernard Cromwell – who is a compelling historical fiction writer and I have been utterly moved by the words of Alice Walker in the Color Purple. I finally got round to reading Harper Lee’s classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, and I’m glad I read it at this time in my life as I think I appreciated it more than I would have in my teenage years.

Here’s the 52 books I read this year:

  1. Rose of Sarajevo – Ayse Kulin
  2. Before I go to Sleep – S J Watson
  3. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
  4. The Dalai Lama’s Book of Wisdom – Dalai Lama XIV
  5. Mr Mercedes – Stephen King
  6. The Bees – Laline Paul
  7. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  8. Katherine – Anya Seton
  9. Secrets of the Sea House – Elisabeth Gifford
  10. 1984 – George Orwell Continue reading “2016 Book Challenge in the bag!”

Unmentoring: How four simple conversations have changed my year

unmentoringFor the last five months I’ve been taking part in LocalGovDigital’s Unmentoring scheme, which is an unconventional approach to mentoring using Spark Collaboration technology. Every month I’ve been randomly matched to another person taking part and so far I’ve had many valuable conversations with colleagues from across the UK.

I’d like to give a summary of some of the amazing people I have crossed paths with and my key learning from the discussions we’ve had. It’s reminded me that every person – no matter who they are, or where they are from – offers a unique perspective on their area of work.

Carl Haggerty – February 2016
Key learning: Think, Share, Do

My first match was with Carl Haggerty, Digital Communications Manager at Devon County Council. As this was the first time I’d ever taken part in the scheme, I didn’t know what to expect, and what struck me most was Carl’s passion and conviction for using digital technology for the greater good.

Something we both found common ground around was that during periods of massive transformation it’s important to create systems and a culture for engagement to prevail and not be reliant on individuals.

A comment that Carl said that really resonated with me was: “It’s about the sweet spot between humanity, technology and democracy. Which is not being represented in the conversation?”

He also shared with me a campaign around 100 days of change which captured stories from across his organisation. It was incredibly successful as it appreciated change is complex, but can also be good.

Instead of over-thinking, just get stuck in and involved. Continue reading “Unmentoring: How four simple conversations have changed my year”

The TED talk I’ve enjoyed most in 2016


I don’t know about you, but I love a TED talk. The chance to hear a new perspective and gain insight into areas I know about, and more often than not areas I don’t know about, excites me.

I was fascinated to know what TED stood for – technology, entertainment and design – and I’d listened to many talks and only recently learned this.

The talk I’ve enjoyed listening to the most in 2016 is Celeste Headlee’s: 10 ways to have a better conversation. It’s an obvious one for me that communication is important in my line of work and I’m always interested in having more impact and strengthening relationships around me.
Celeste explains that in a recent study of 10,000 people, it showed we are more than ever divided by polarised opinions, and less likely to listen to one another. She says somewhere we lost the way to balance speaking and listening, and this is partly down to technology – though it’s not entirely to blame.

The quote I loved the most from Celeste was “I listen to be amazed”, which means we have to truly listen to seek out what gems the other person has to offer.

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18 down, 34 to go …


I never tend to make New Years resolutions, as I’m generally rubbish at sticking to them. Why set yourself up to inevitably fail and kick yourself when you do?
However this year is different.

I had seen a number of 52 week challenges in 2015 and I loved how they broke down massive goals into bite sized chunks a week at a time. This to me sounded like people had hacked resolutions – how awesome is that!

So this year is my first ever I have set a New Years resolution, well the first ever stuck to for longer than a week, and my aim is to read 52 books, averaging one a week.

I use Goodreads as a way of tracking what I’ve read, and it beautifully lets you know how far off your yearly reading goal you are.

I’ve managed to read my way through 18 books – some older, some newer books – and it’s striking what I’ve found. I’ve been changed as a person by some of these books and namely by the ones written in the middle of the last century. A Town Like Alice was such a beautiful tale – it showed me that a good story is a good story no matter when it was told.

I came across The Color Purple as part of Emma Watson’s ‘Our Shared Shelf’ feminist book club and I was inspired that the human spirit can endure and overcome so much.

Here’s the entire list of what I’ve read so far in 2016 (as of 29 April):

Continue reading “18 down, 34 to go …”