The Big Yak

Saturday 9 June 2018 | London

The unconference for in-house communicators | #TheBigYak


We came. We saw. We yakked about comms.

Thank you to everyone who attended yesterday’s The Big Yak, we had a brilliant day and enjoyed seeing you all having fun, networking and learning about internal communication.

We were joined by 160 internal communication professionals and thanks to our 21 sponsors, were able to enjoy a whole day together. IC pros travelled from near and far to be in London on 9 June, including Cynthia from the Netherlands, Emanuela from Italy and various flights from Dublin and Belfast.

This website will be closing down so our yak can snooze and the conversations will continue on Twitter @theICcrowd and our usual website

The topics were:

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3 Session 4 Session 5
Measurement Creating a forward-looking culture through open and honest communications IC role in innovation How do we show the ROI of IC Newsletters, do they still hold value?
Change Comms Reviving intranets, O365 Growing comms champion network Helping Line Managers become better communicators How do we develop our own capabilities?
Crisis Comms Comms career progression Working smarter (agile) Getting executive buy-in Connecting people to purpose
Culture Change Coaching leaders Operationalising values and behaviours Storytelling CEO comms and corporate reputation


Remote workers with access to comms channels  Comms strategy Tackling tech takeover and saturation Community management and ESN strategy Internal comms and diversity
Engaging people who resist engagement Remote workers (no access to comms channels) Remote workers – using line managers Connecting global organisations M&A

Blog posts from crowd members:



Here’s everything you need to know about The Big Yak, the unconference for communicators on Saturday 9 June 2018.

It’s being hosted by The IC Crowd. Do Tweet us @theICcrowd if you’ve got a query we’ve not covered.

Doors open at 9.30am on Saturday 9 June 2018. Breakfast will be served until 10.15am.

The Big Yak will start at 10.15am and finish at 5pm. Drinks at the venue  (sponsored by Workplace) will end just before 7pm. We’ll then move on to a local bar, The Portman Pub, and would love you to join us.

What’s The IC Crowd?
The IC Crowd is a community and a place for people to connect and communicate. It’s the brainchild of Comms professionals Rachel MillerJenni Field and Dana Leeson.

We launched the crowd in September 2012 and you can find out more about us on the team page of our website and @theICcrowd on Twitter.

What is The Big Yak?
The Big Yak unconference from The IC Crowd connects in-house and independent communicators face-to-face so they can learn and network. To yak is a colloquial way of saying to talk.

It has been designed by and for professional communicators. This is the fourth time The Big Yak has taken place, as we gathered comms pros in 2013, 2014 and 2016.


We’re proud to be a different type of event and offer in-house practitioners the chance to shape the agenda on the day (which is what an unconference means) and get help and advice from their peers.

Trust us, you’ll love it!

Feedback from delegates over the years means we know what works and what doesn’t, so we’ve made a few changes for 2018.

Who can attend?
In-house internal communicators and independent practitioners are welcome to come to The Big Yak.

This is an event to share learning and experience with other like-minded professionals. Based on feedback, only agencies who are sponsoring are able to attend. As ever, we request a no pitching, selling of services or products to other attendees as this is what makes The Big Yak unique and we’d like to keep it that way.

We will be closely monitoring the attendee list. Our lead sponsors are AB, SocialOptic and Workplace. See the sponsors page to discover our partners for this year.

Where is The Big Yak?
We know how much you loved our venue in 2016, so not only is the yak back, we’re returning to the same venue.

Etc venue in Marble Arch, London, is our home for the day and we have the whole first floor exclusively, which means we can network, learn, eat and socialise in the same place.



Want to know what will be discussed at The Big Yak on Saturday 9 June 2018?

So do we! As it’s an unconference, the content is decided by you, the attendees, on the day.

We’re expecting 140 in-house professional communicators to come together, shape the agenda and enjoy being together.

Our facilitator Benjamin Ellis will be guiding us through our fun-filled day. If you’ve never attended an unconference before, don’t worry, he’ll be on hand to make sure things go smoothly.

Here’s the agenda from our 2016 event – as you can see, it was set on the day:

The Big Yak agenda

Doors open at 9.30am on Saturday 9 June 2018. Breakfast will be served until 10.15am. The Big Yak will start at 10.15am and finish at 5pm. Drinks will end just before 7pm.

Thank you to our drinks sponsor Workplace for enabling us to have drinks at the end, so we can keep on yakking in the venue for a few more hours.

More information about timings can be found on the agenda page.

Post-Yak drinks

Once The Big Yak‘s drinks finish at the venue at 7pm, we will be retiring to a bar and would love you to join us.

It’s called The Portman Pub and is within walking distance. The address is 51 Upper Berkeley Street, Marylebone, London, W1H 7QW.


All food is included on the day including breakfast before The Big Yak starts. A hot lunch will be served just after midday and we’ll have a mid-afternoon break too.

If you have any dietary requirements (besides gluten-free and veggie options) please let us know.


Dress code
We want you to feel comfortable, so do come in jeans and trainers or whatever you prefer. It is a Saturday after all.

There will be a place for you to leave coats, the rail is near the entrance.

Chill out zone
The Big Yak is an excellent place to network. However, if you need a quiet corner to recharge your batteries, we have a chill out room.

Our swag bags are back by popular demand. Look out for yours on your chair. They include goodies from our fantastic sponsors, so you can find out more about them.

Make some noise
Do Tweet on the day using #TheBigYak and @theICcrowd.

The venue will have free wifi and there are plenty of plug points – don’t forget your chargers. See the reviews page of this website to discover what it’s like to attend The Big Yak. We’d love you to join us.

The Big Yak Tweet


Do Tweet us @theICcrowd if you’ve got a query we’ve not covered on this site.




etc venue Marble Arch

The Big Yak unconference is taking place at etc. venues Marble Arch, London, on Saturday 9 June 2018.

etc venuesHow to find it
etc.venues Marble Arch is located at
Garfield House, 86-88 Edgware Road, London, W2 2EA

We have the whole first floor to ourselves for the day, so we can make ourselves at home.

The main room will be set up theatre style, then we have a floor of breakout rooms to use throughout the day for the unconference sessions. Need to recharge your batteries? We’ll have a chill out zone room which is a quiet space.

Floor plan

Travel options
Keep an eye on the TfL website to check the latest travel status.

By Underground, Central line to Marble Arch Station
When you exit Marble Arch Station station, turn right on to Oxford Street and then second right on to Edgware Road walking past the Odeon Cinema. etc.venues Marble Arch is in Garfield House, on the right hand side next to Tesco.

By train
Paddington Station is approximately 20 minutes walk. Use the Praed Street exit and turn left on to Praed Street and continue until you walk on to Edgware Road. Turn right onto Edgware Road and continue towards Marble Arch.

etc.venues Marble Arch is at the other end of Edgware Road on the left. Alternatively bus routes 36 or 436 go from outside Paddington Station on Praed Street and on to Edgware Road, and take approximately 10 minutes to Marble Arch.

Download travel directions.

Plan your journey

By bus
etc.venues Marble Arch sits on many bus routes including 7, 10, 73, 98, 137, 390, 6, 23, 94, 159, 30, 94, 113, 159, 274, 2, 16, 36, 74, 82, 148, 414, 436.

There is a NCP car park situated within close proximity to Marble Arch – visit for more details.

Sat nav: 51.51542, -0.163319

By London Cycle Scheme
The nearest “Boris Bike” docking station is on Edgware Road / Marble Arch.

Download travel directions.

Maps to help you find us



etc venue Marble Arch map

etc venue Marble Arch



The Big Yak wouldn’t be possible without our fantastic sponsors. But these organisations aren’t just sponsors, they are our partners.

Each of these organisations understand the benefit of networking and professional development. We can’t say enough about our sponsors, other than without them The Big Yak wouldn’t be possible.

Please look out for them on Saturday 9 June 2018 and stop them to say hello as they are supporting the crowd and making the day possible.

Meet The Sponsors-48

Our thanks to…

Lead sponsors: AB, SocialOptic and Workplace. 

See our Twitter list to follow all our sponsors.


ABAB helps organisations reach their full potential by creating informed, engaged and connected employees.

We believe in the power of participation and involvement. When people join forces to pursue a common goal, amazing things happen.

Founded in 1964, AB brings more than five decades of award-winning experience to every communication challenge.

Look out for Katie Macaulay and Mario Theodorou at The Big Yak.

See or @abthinks.

Social Optic

Social OpticSocialOptic harnesses the power of human data to boost productivity, reduce risk and deliver cultural change. From compliance and security, to employee engagement and digital transformation,

SocialOptic delivers tools and expertise to help you to make the right decisions to succeed.

Look out for Caalie Ellis and Benjamin Ellis at The Big Yak.

See or @socialoptic


Workplace_by_Facebook_Lock-up_Black_PNGWorkplace by Facebook is a collaboration platform designed to connect entire organisations. It offers familiar tools like groups, messaging and video calling.

Workplace helps anyone develop team projects, run meetings, share news and even collaborate securely with other companies.

Look out for Kelly Kriegshauser and Leticia Bevilaqua at The Big Yak.

See or @workplacebyfb.

Thank you to The Big Yak sponsors…

106 Comms

106-commsOur mission is to help brands and organisations be the most engaging versions of themselves.

We support companies in the UK and in Europe, with energising their people around purpose, change, sustainability, wellbeing, innovation, digital transformation and much more.

Take a look at and chat to us @106comms

Look out for Henry Davies and Maddie Watson at The Big Yak.

Alive With Ideas

Alive_We are an ideas-fuelled comms agency.

We make the mundane, marvellous – defining messages, telling stories and shaping behaviours.

We work with organisations like GWR, Sainsbury’s, B&Q, University of Manchester, KP Snacks, National Trust and numerous NHS and public-sector organisations on everything from day-to-day comms to large scale creative campaigns.

Look out for Alan Oram and Caroline Roodhouse at The Big Yak.

See and @alivewithideas.


CIPR Inside

CIPR_INSIDE_logo_CYMKCIPR Inside is the specialist group of the Chartered Institute for Public Relations. The group is for internal communication and employee engagement professionals.

As part of the only chartered organisation for communications professionals we benefit from the knowledge, support and training that the organisation provides. It connects internal and external communication, in line with the belief that communication should be integrated and joined up.

Raising professional standards and sharing best practice is a core aim of the group and institute. When joining the CIPR you can select to join the CIPR Inside group. As a member you get special rates for events, training and workshops, to help you continue your professional development throughout your career. Our members have access to the knowledge, support and training that being part of a chartered organisation brings.

We believe that professionalism and current knowledge are critical to delivering excellent and strategic communications.

See or @ciprinside.

EE Awards

Logo_design_finalsThe Employee Engagement Awards (EE Awards) is the first, and only global, dedicated Employee Engagement Awards & conference business. We believe in inspiring and educating people to remake the way organisations think about, and engage, people to achieve their purpose.

That’s why we created, and continue to develop, the Employee Engagement Awards; to provide a platform to recognise excellence in engagement that inspires action and drives the industry and the employee experience forward.

Entering and hopefully winning, The EE Awards provides the industry acknowledgement and competitive advantage needed to attract the best talent.

The Employee Engagement Awards has awards programs running in North America, Australasia, South Africa and the UK and Europe.

See or @ee_awards.

Gallagher Communication

GallagherWe exist to ‘inspire the people behind the world’s leading businesses’.

Powered by 65 internal communication professionals across the world, our strategic approach, complimented by world-class creativity and imagination, places us at the forefront of employee communication and empowers us to shape the future of workplace engagement.

Look out for Neil Strong at The Big Yak.



H&H_articleH&H offers consultancy, training and creative support on strategic IC and EE projects of all shapes and sizes.

A team of 23 highly talented specialists – from psychologists, strategists, IC practitioners and researchers to an in-house creative team of animators, illustrators, designers and copywriters, we’ve touched the lives of millions of employees worldwide and delivered hundreds of programmes with tangible and sustainable outcomes.

Look out for Hannah Thoresby and James Sutherland at The Big Yak.

See or @handhagency.



We’re here to help, whatever your internal communications needs. Interim or permanent hires, we’ll find the right person for your business.

One off research, campaigns or communication skills development, we’ll bring the right experience

Look out for James Harkness and Lisa Betteridge at The Big Yak.

See or @harknesskennett or call 01483 222730.


honey-teamHoney create compelling customer and employee brand experiences.

Many businesses say that employees are their biggest asset, but how many actually live up to that claim?

Employee engagement depends on employees understanding, believing and acting on the brand – which means putting them at the heart of the thinking from the start.

By combining strategic and creative thinking, we develop employee experiences that create engaged workforces – building your reputation from the inside out. Only when your staff are your biggest fans, will they be your greatest assets.

Look out for Joanna Jenkins and Lee Smith at The Big Yak.


Institute of Internal Communication 

ioicThe Institute of Internal Communication is the only independent professional body solely dedicated to promoting a deeper understanding of internal communication and helping our members to be the best they can be – today, and in the future.

We represent more than 1,200 professionals, helping them build credibility, skills and knowledge to advance their careers.

Look out for Jennifer Sproul and Suzanne Peck at The Big Yak.

See or @ioicnews.

Intranet Now

Wedge-BlackThe conference for comms and intranet people.

Each autumn, we put a score of practitioners on stage for laser-focused lightning talks.

Intranet Now is about inspiration, conversation, and how intranets are used now.

Simply run by Wedge and Brian for the community.

Look out for Wedge at The Big Yak.

See or @intranetnow for more information.


Mk_articlemk is an internal brand consultancy.

Our job is to bring your brand to life – with stories and imagery, films and creative ideas.

So your people will feel more connected to your business.

And so your customers will feel like you really care.

Look out for Matt Hampshire and Kevin Davies at The Big Yak.

See and @mkbranduk.


PRCA - Logo BlueThe PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.

The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.

Look out for Sue Reynolds and Steve Miller at #TheBigYak.

PR Academy


PR Academy is the largest centre for CIPR qualifications and runs both the CIPR Specialist Diploma and Certificate in Internal Communication.

You will learn the theory, how to apply it in practice and meet lots of other lovely practitioners. Classes are held in central London or you can study online.

Look out for Kevin Ruck and Ann Pilkington at The Big Yak.

See or @pracademy.


sequel_Sequel helps clients create better employee experiences that transform business performance.

We’re a team of 28 talented writers, designers, strategists, digital developers and filmmakers who work together blending skills, experience and fresh thinking to create brilliant, award-winning work for clients.

From shaping strategies to creating communications campaigns, content and channels, our work connects, inspires and helps organisations to be productive places where people really want to work.

See or @sequel_group.


Social ChorusSocialChorus is the leading employee engagement company by providing a workforce communications platform that transforms how workers and organisations connect every day. Designed for every worker from head office to the front line, our solution enables a more informed, connected and supported workforce.

Organisations that depend on SocialChorus are able to connect and align their teams, power enterprise initiatives and measure the business outcomes. SocialChorus have offices in London, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Look out for Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe and Anne Warner at The Big Yak.

See or @socialchorus.


SpecialistWe are a full service content agency – managing, delivering and measuring branded content across every communications touchpoint.

Content excellence at scale, headquartered in Bristol and London; connected to a network of more than 85 offices in 30 countries

See or @specialistuk_

Top Banana

topbananaTop Banana was born with the aim of helping businesses communicate better through truly remarkable events and communications.

We create memorable experiences that excite, immerse and engage people emotionally with business strategy. We build true partnerships with our clients, which include the likes of Bentley, Bacardi, Virgin Media Business and Costa Coffee.

Look out for Marc Hazeldon and Richard Bridge at The Big Yak.



Yapster_articleYapster is the mobile chat app for work teams.

Colleagues can send 1-1 and group messages, initiate flash polls, and share updates on the social feed straight from their smartphones.

By focusing on delivering a slick, simple user experience, Yapster can be up to 80% less expensive than alternative solutions.

Yapster. Talk more. Pay less.

Look out for Rob Liddiard and Aimen Chouchane at The Big Yak.


See our Twitter list to follow all our sponsors.

Meet The Sponsors-48


The Big Yak is now sold out. Well done if you managed to get one for our unconference on 9 June 2018. The wait list is now live where you can add your name.

Please note: If you get an email from the wait list, there is a 24-hour window to claim your ticket. 

How much are they?
This year we are charging a minimal fee for attendance, £9.99, which is non-refundable.

The Big Yak is a non-profit making event and the fee is to deter no-shows as we do have a number of these at every The Big Yak event and it’s not fair on people who are on the waiting list who could have attended.

Who can attend?
In-house internal communicators and independent practitioners are welcome to come to The Big Yak.

This is an event to share learning and experience with other like-minded professionals. Based on feedback, only agencies who are sponsoring are able to attend.

As ever, we request a no pitching, selling of services or products to other attendees as this is what makes The Big Yak unique and we’d like to keep it that way.

We will be closely monitoring the attendee list. Our lead sponsors are AB, SocialOptic and Workplace. See the sponsors page to discover our partners for this year.

Comms Clinic with AB

ABPick the brains of two experienced consultants for free. Katie Macaulay and Mario Theodorou, from the communications agency AB, are offering five 15-minute sessions during The Big Yak to address any burning communications issue, from the strategic to the tactical. Passionate, award-wining communicators, Mario and Katie, will bring the tea and cake – you bring the problem!

Katie Macaulay has spent a 27-year career in employee communication. Today, Katie is managing director of AB, the UK’s longest established employee communications agencies, founded in 1964. Her book, From Cascade to Conversation, explores the future of internal communication and was the subject of a popular presentation at IABC’s World Conference in Washington last year.

Mario Theodorou is an experienced digital director and evangelist. As Head of Digital at News International – one of the UK’s oldest and biggest newspaper Groups – Mario was instrumental in helping this traditional media organisation embrace the web. Mario recently joined AB as Head of Digital to help organisations explore the benefits of digital, social and mobile technology.

How you can enter
You can register for one for the five places here – just tell us a bit more about you and the challenge you’re having and we will do a draw from the names on the day.

All the detail you give us will be passed to Katie and Mario so they can get in touch with you after the event if they haven’t been able to chat to you there.

(Please note that you will need a Big Yak ticket to be eligible for these places).




Want to know what it’s like to attend The Big Yak?

Here’s a taster of what the crowd has shared from our previous unconferences.

Helen Deverell has shared some top networking tips to help comms pros who are coming on 9 June 2018.

Blog posts

Who’s coming this year?


Contact Info