It is commscampnorth this week in Manchester. This is the low-down on it.
by Dan Slee
If I tell you that its #commscampnorth this week, what is your reaction?
A quick dash for cake recipes?
You’d be forgiven either of these.
It is going to be brilliant. I’m biased I know. But it is. Because it is put together by volunteers and the 120 who come all help make it fly.
Let me explain.
What is #commscampnorth? This is an unconference for public sector comms and PR people. This means the agenda is decided on the day by the people who are attending.
Has this ever been done before? Yes. Unconferences have been a mainstay of the public sector for a decade. It started with ukgovcamp in London and has evolved into all sorts of things. There’s one for local government, museums, libraries and people in the West Midlands.
How about comms? There’s been a Commscamp since 2012 and its always been in Birmingham.
So why commscampnorth? Because the 150 spaces for the Birmingham event always get snapped-up. And people in the North are doing some really interesting things.
Is Manchester in the North? Don’t start. If we took this to a logical conclusion we’d be in either Shetland or Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Why an unconference? Traditional events with slides and speakers are fine. Really they are. But often you are having to listen to a speaker you don’t want to listen to. You’d rather catch-up with that person who is doing interesting things you bumped into in the coffee queue at the break.
So, that’s the idea then, no slides? Yes. The difference also is this. It’s not ‘this is the problem six months ago and this is how we did it.’ It’s ‘this is the problem, how do we crack it better together right now?’
How do the sessions get chosen? If you are coming along, you can propose a session. You can also chip into the discussion on each session too. You can road test them by posting ideas into the Commscamp Facebook group here or post them onto Twitter. It doesn’t have to be a session that’s popular with everyone. Something really niche is fine. In fact that’s when we often feel happiest.
What’s the crack with cake? We ask people to bake or bring a cake for our cake stall. Slices get sold for charity. Everyone who buys one gets a raffle ticket.
So, what’s the raffle ticket prizes? We ask people to bring pre-loved tat too. An old LP. Apiece of tech. They are the prizes.
Cool. Can I get a ticket? Sadly, not. The first batch of tickets went in 40 seconds. The remaining tickets went in just over three minutes combined. There is a waitlist but it is hugely over-subscribed.
So how about other events? Well, there is Commscamp in Birmingham on July 14. That’s the original. Tickets haven’t been posted online for that yet. We’ll make an announcement on how you can grab a ticket after the Manchester event is finished.
How much does it cost? It is free. Volunteers put this on. Sponsors cover the costs.
Aha. So, who is behind it? Volunteers. From inside and outside the sector. For #commscampnorth, this is me – Dan Slee from comms2point0 – as well as Bridget Aherne from Berkshire Fire & Rescue, Emma Rodgers from Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Kate Bentham (Shropshire Council) and Kate Norman (NHS Cumbria). On the day there’s a team of more than a dozen helpers too.
How can I see what is happening during #commscampnorth on April 27? The hashtag #commscampnorth as well as tweets from @commscamp and a Facebook Live broadcast from the launch of the event around 10am. This will capture the pitches and intros.
How can I find out about future events? That’s simple. There’s an email list you can sign-up to here.
With thanks to our sponsors MusterPoint, comms2point0, Council Advertising Network, Granicus UK, Digital Action Plan from Helpful Technology and Touch Design as well as supporters UK Govcamp, NUJ, GCS and LGcomms. They are all lovely people.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0 and commscampnorth.