I’m often asked what it’s like working full time on comms2point0, and even more often “what do you actually do?” So I kept a diary to share a week in the life of working on the 'UK’s top communications outfit to exclusively use black and white images.'
By Darren Caveney
This week is an (untypically) busy week at comms2point0. A large event, a couple of project meetings, a new business win and two new proposals to submit. So it seemed like an interesting week to write up as a ‘week in the life of’ post I’ve been thinking of writing for a while.
This week we’ll be hosting our second regional UnAwards Winners Masterclass. I’m really pleased, and proud, that we have been able to deliver these events which I believe are a precious, free learning opportunities for public sector communicators. So today I am busy with final event preparations – liaising with our partner sponsors, and speakers, preparing slides and printed materials and making sure there’s plenty of good food to go around. There’s always a lot to do to make an event fly. The UnAwards are a personal favourite of mine so I am delighted to have some fab people supporting and enabling us.
I’m also working on the first of two new business proposals. We do many things for free – events, daily links, comms2point0.co.uk etc - but we also have hungry children to feed and so the creative communications consultancy we deliver is an important part of each week. This first proposal is to deliver a strategic communications review for a large organisation. Fascinating work - I really enjoy the chance to get under the skin of an organisation and its communications activities so fingers crossed we’re successful.
Adding new blog posts and job ads to the website, lots of emails, plenty of Twitter interactions and a smidge of LinkedIn (isn’t LinkedIn getting busier, by the way?) and the day draws to an end. A late end. An average week is probably 60-70 hours long so many of my days feature a late finish.
The day is kicked-started with a couple of cups of some new Scandi coffee which found its way into the house. It hits the mark. I put on the comms2point0 ‘Soundtrack of the Week’ and I’m away for another day of win. I have a lunchtime meeting so the morning whizzes past before I need to leave for it.
In the afternoon I submit that proposal to provide strategic comms support to an organisation. Fingers crossed, sounds an interesting piece of work. I have also been asked to speak at an event next month so I spend some time looking into that.
I also dedicate some time shaping the new Survival Skills workshop I am delivering with a fab ex-colleague who I really respect. This is one of those new initiatives which is part hunch. It might just be the most important thing I do all year. I’m passionate about creating support to, and flying a flag for, comms folk. Time will tell if it’s a success and popular.
Once the kids are tucked up in bed I run through the final prep for tomorrow’s big event.
Match day. Our second UnAwards Winners Masterclass takes place in my home town – a very wet Birmingham. But we have a quality venue and the coffee is fresh, hot and plentiful. If you’ve worked on events you’ll know all too well that when you’ve put a lot of time and thought into an event you’re a touch anxious on the big day to ensure that your attendees and partners have a great experience. It’s important to me that a comms2point0 event is uniquely comms2point0-ish: Fresh, fun, packed with learning and unlike other events you might go to. That’s our aim. So I get to the venue for 8am and get cracking with the set-up. Attendee list, branded name badge stickers, agendas, slides, collateral, AV run-through, checking on the food orders. The croissants looked good but there’s not time for breakfast scoffing when you’re getting an event set up and ready to roll.
We had five brilliant presenters: Treble-winners, Sheffield City Council, and their Head of Comms, Eddie Coates-Madden kicked things off in style. Best collaboration winners, the excellent Jon Reeves and Alex Kellett from Futures Housing, shared their insight and lessons, and social media specialists, Shadow Giants, showed us why they won ‘Best work by an agency’.
After more caffeine, the fab Julie Waddicor explained how she took internal comms at Staffordshire County Council by the scruff of the neck and got staff more engaged.
And, finally, Richard Wilson from London Fire Brigade and their truly brilliant #50ShadesofRed campaign. Fun and smart we can all learn from work like that.
If you were at the Masterclass I hope you enjoyed it. I’ve said it before but we’re very fortunate to have the Local Government Association and Matt Nicholls backing the Masterclasses, as well as the great Dave Worsell from GovDelivery and the lovely Alan Oram and Caroline Roodhouse at Alive With Ideas. They so often back us and our events and they are all a genuine pleasure to work with. There are pros and cons of all jobs but one of the biggest pros of running comms2point0 is being able to choose who we work with.
The sad man that I am I always like to know the metrics, impact and outcomes from our work. So, in case you’re wondering, the Masterclass generated 2.1million potential impacts on Twitter, a reach of 134k and over 600 tweets engaged and shared the great work on show.
A very good return so I ended the night with a large glass of red wine to celebrate a pretty decent day’s work.
A trip to deepest, rural Derbyshire was a treat as I ventured off to meet an excellent comms manager I am mentoring. My car was on one of its (regular) visits to the garage so I let the train take the strain. First stop, Derby, then followed by a quick change to head into the pretty countryside. I arrived in really good time and planned to work from the station for 30minutes before jumping in a taxi to my meeting 3.5 miles away. City kid that I am I planned to just tootle along to the station’s taxi rank to complete the journey to my final destination. I know what you’re thinking – there won’t be a taxi rank at a rural station. And you’d be right.
Fast forward, and following a short (well, one and half mile) walk and with the rain beginning to fall, I realised that I’d slipped up…
But thanks to the help of a lovely elderly lady who took pity of me and helped me onto the right bus I got to my meeting on time.
The meeting was well worth the trip – I really enjoy working and supporting colleagues through the mentoring work I increasingly get asked to deliver. It’s very rewarding, and after 100-years in senior comms and marketing roles I hopefully have some decent knowledge and experience to share.
Late in the day we hear that we’ve won a new piece of strategic comms consultancy. Gone are the days of having a day job salary to rely upon so these are always reassuring moments.
Tomorrow I am having a semi day off so I work until late.
Another bout of work on the website, including a peek at the week’s traffic. Interestingly Emma Rodgers’ ‘What I have learned from being a head of comms for two years’ has attracted over 1.2k views already (if that stuff interests you as it does me) If ever it were needed, that’s proof that we’re all still interested in gaining an insight into what inspires and frustrates other people in our industry.
I get contacted and asked to write a quick piece for a trade magazine, which is nice, so I get that out of the door.
It’s my birthday today so Mrs C and I grab a slice of downtime heading out for lunch and a rare afternoon trip to the cinema (we saw Spotlight – highly recommended if you haven’t yet caught it)
And that was my working week – busy, fun and fulfilling.
The top three things I learned this week:
1. That watching and listening to great presenters is still a real treat
2. That getting a taxi from a rural train station shouldn’t be assumed
3. That taking an afternoon off to go and watch a film is a great way to round off a busy week
Darren Caveney is a creative communications consultant and co-founder of comms2point0
Images – the good ones are via the excellent Nigel Bishop, the poor one is by me.