Plenty has been written about #commscamp in Birmingham on 12 July 2018; here’s Ben Capper plus all the activity on Twitter and LinkedIn and this from my old pals at Helpful Technology. It’s all good stuff, but doesn’t even scratch the surface for how much was on offer at this year’s event, with sessions on topics including AI, freelancing, podcasts, accessibility, Facebook workplace, creative play, media law and mental health. Needless to say, I've not been to a better public sector comms event, and it continues to get better and better.
So here’s a quick list of just 10 of the public sector communication-type-things that I took away from this one:
Engage with people on their level, be more human and, essentially, be more Dave Throup from the Environment Agency. This man is a hero to many! https://twitter.com/DaveThroupEA?lang=en
If you want real discussion and real engagement, create spaces where people feel they can mix (and they are people, not citizens or customers or consumers). Don’t force your council or organisation processes on them, or make them come to your all important meetings. Do it their way.
If you’re consulting with people about a project, make sure you have touchpoints along the way. Or to put it another way, keep talking. Better still, keep listening.
Don’t forget all those volunteers on the ground in your area who may be already communicating with the people you want to talk to. The sports coaches, church groups, scouts, brownies etc. They’ve got skills, knowledge but also data on the people you want to talk to. Make use of it.
Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Have the difficult conversations with the difficult people, and have them independently of everything and everyone else. And yes you probably will get shouted at, but you may well win them round.
There is no shortcut if you want to do engagement properly, even in this golden age of digital. Sometimes the best method is to just get out there and meet people, and do the leg work.
Subtitling your videos isn’t just about accessibility, don’t forget all those watching on trains on their phones. Either way, it’s essential, not an option. Read this from Albert Freeman on the ‘how’, not just the ‘why’.
Be upfront and honest in all your comms, especially where things may be a bit challenging. It still never ceases to amaze me where I see comms that doesn’t tell the whole truth. When will we learn?
And finally, no, the press release isn’t dead, yet, but it’s definitely on its last legs. Media relations is still alive, but you’ve got to do better than a simple (and boring) press release.