Commscamp is an annual event for public sector comms people. Volunteer run it's free to attend. It's a chance to bounce ideas around and soak up inspiration.
by Dan Slee
It's 5am the day after commscamp the 4th largest and best commscamp so I thought I'd just post a 10 things I learned listicle.
Commscamp is an unconference for public sector communications people run entirely by volunteers.
1. We all need this. To quote Elbow "Throw those curtains wide, one day like this a year will see me right." I love the fact that a community has built up around these things. They are people who care about what they do and want to do a better job. I like that people who come for the first time or the 4th time get it.
2. The sun always shines in Birmingham.
3. No two people have the same commscamp. There are 30 possible sessions and you can go to six or with the law of two feet nipping out of that session and into others more.
4. Pokemon Go and augmented reality is a thing that we're just starting to get our heads around. What does that mean for comms people?
5. The Government Communications Service modern communications operating model is a starting point to look at if you are working out how to structure your team.
6. Facebook Live has a habit of falling over the first time the WiFi signal wobbles. Until this is ironed out I'd be tempted to use Periscope. But the numbers make it tempting.
7. It's brilliant seeing people come to commscamp for the first time.
8. The Bond Company in Birmingham is a brilliant venue.
9. If it's not broke don't fix it.
10. Polly's Parlour is a converted VW Beetle that sells ice creams. They're also lovely people.
11. We are only just starting to work out the impact of the Brexit campaign.
12. The Leave campaign went for the heart and Remain to the head. The heart won.
13. There are lessons positive and negative for comms from Brexit that we will have to live with for years to come.
14. Organisations are increasingly being bold with video and are making short snackable content.
15. The NHS needs an unconference like this.
16. Snapchat is baffling people over 20 but people over 20 really need to get to grips with it. Paul Bradshaw's Snapchat for Journalists is worth chiopping in for.
17. There is a need for social media management and the question 'how much of it and what works' is a good one to ask.
18. Musterpoint is like hootsuite for the public sector built by someone who is from the public sector. You should have a demo. It's ace.
19. The underlying mood at public sector unconferences has changed. I've noticed this. The first ones I went to six or seven years ago were about the power of new technology. We were intoxicated by the possibility and we were eager to understand each channel. We kicked the tyres and we imagined a world that looked so different. We imagined a world where people had access to information and could challenge, discuss and debate. The access has come. We think we are savvy. We are not. As a country we - all of us - have a capacity to take things that are shared at face value no matter how outlandish. We don't appear to have much critical thinking. As the public sector, or with public sector values we base what we do in fact and accuracy when those outside do not always. And those outside have all the best tunes. I keep coming back over and over to a line I heard the UK Ambassador to the Lebanon Tom Fletcher say a couple of years ago. "We must communicate like insurgents." Shocked at first I wondered what he meant. He doesn't mean communicate with beheadings and kalashnikovs. What I think he means is that the old structure of sign-off and safety have been outflanked. Too slow for the digital landscape. Too dull to effectively work. There needs to be the independence of cells that can communicate something fleet footed, creative, imaginative, witty, fast and responsive. I'm not sure what that looks like entirely but I'd like to find out.
20. Emma Rodgers is a great person to plan an event with.
21. There is a strong sense of therapy as well as learning at commscamp. That's fine. Life can be tough. It can be difficult being in the public sector and if people have left commscamp knowing only they're not alone then it will have done its job.
22. The evaluation of commscamp is not by clicks, tweets or hashtags. It;s in six months time when you are faced with an issue you first came across at commscamp and through Twitter or the Facebook group you now know who can help you with an answer.
23. There will be a round-up of blogs and other content on the commscamp blog.
24. Commscamp wouldn't happen without our gold sponsors GovDelivery, Knowledge Hub, Digital Action Plan by Helpful Technology, MusterPoint and Touch Design silver supporter Alive With Ideas and supporters UK Govcamp, PSF, NUJ, Government Communications Service, LGComms, David Banks and Local Government Association. They are all lovely people.
25. Kate Bentham running the cake stall and Elaine Massey running the tea stall is the dream team. They are both great people.
26. There were people who had been before to commscamp who weren't there this year. They were missed.
27. Next year's commscamp is on July 14 2017. It will be even bigger. There will be 200 tickets this time not 180. If you'd like to sign-up to the email alert for ticket and volunteering information you can do so here.
Dan Slee is co-creator of comms2point0 and co-founder of commscamp.
Pic credit Josephione Smith / Twitter.