fancy a comms cocktail? I’m a trained mixologist, don’t you know!

At the #content14 event in Cardiff we ran a blogging session to teach people the basics. Here is one post that emerged from it that tells the story of one communicator's view of learning new skills.

by Rachel Moss

When I started out in the brave new world of communications I didn’t realise that cocktail making would be one of the necessary skills I’d need to acquire. But it is - really, it is.

These days, you need to shake, mix, and muddle a whole load of new comms elements if you want your message to compete in a crowded market and get through to people.

A simple Gin and Tonic just won’t cut it anymore – what you really need to be able to do these days is to produce the PR equivalent of the Woo Woo or, dare I say it, Sex on the Beach?!

While it might sound daunting, actually the secret to any good cocktail rests with some basic key ingredients. And, if you can master these, it’s really easy to mix up something special for your organisation.


That’s why the great people behind the 1000 Lives Improvement hosted the ‘Creating Useable Content’ event recently.

It was designed to help public sector communicators learn some of the new skills needed to become great ‘content producers’.

This excellent conference focused on the 5 key elements that all PR professionals need to get to grips with in order to succeed.

I’ll share them with you now, in suitable cocktail style:

1) The Blog Bomb:
The influential Dan Slee
from comms2point0 encouraged everyone to start blogging – for themselves and their organisations. He talked us through the benefits, explained how to bust the barriers and introduced us to the technology out there to make blogging easy.

2) Video Fizz:
Steve Davies, creative Director of
filmcafe, demonstrated how to create videos using the technology we already have – smartphones and tablets. He ran through the essentials for making video content ‘useable’– framing, exposure and sound.

3) Totally Tropical Infographics:
Data expert,
Caroline Beavon, showed us how to create infographics. They’re an effective way of sharing complex reports and ideas and she highlighted some excellent design tools (Piktochart, Infogr.am and Raw) where you can produce them yourselves without needing to know about techy stuff like coding. Caroline showed us the various stages you need to go through, including how to order your data.

4) The Photo Royale:
Photographer and artist,
Pete Ashton, taught us how to take great photos that get widely shared – explaining composition tricks, such as the rule of two thirds and sight lines.

5) The Social Media Smoothie:
And, social media consultant,
Miranda Bishop, gave some excellent advice on planning your social media activity, what content you should post, how often, the scheduling tools out there such as Hootsuite and Buffer, and how to make them work for you.

The conference team said they'd consider the event a success if each delegate came away with 5 ideas they can implement.

So, here are my top takeaways and, in the interests of mixology, I’m going to stick with the cocktail theme - and notice below, my very first ever DIY Infographic to illustrate:

The Commsbird Cocktail

[INSERT IMAGE: COMMS COCKTAIL 2]

Ingredients:

  • ·    2 oz/ 56 ml of Smartphone filming:
  • ·    1 oz / 28 ml of DIY infographics:
  • ·    2 ox / 56 ml of YouTube
  • ·    1 tbsp of tweeting:
  • ·    A dash of creative juice:

And, finally, to decorate your cocktail, add some fab visual minutes from Fran O’Hara, with a sprinkle of some #content14.

Do you have some cool ingredients in your cocktail shaker?

If you're interested in finding out more about the event - there's a great Storify of the day.

Rachel Moss is Head of Communications for the Wales Audit Office.

The Creating Useable Content Learning Event was organised by the 1000 Lives Improvement service in Public Health Wales. The event workbook, presentations and other useful is content is available online. Also from #content14 Trish Rees wrote a post on Comms4Health, and Catherine Thomas wrote a post on the 1000 Lives Improvement blog.