One attendee left the 5th annual commscamp with a pile of ideas. Cake was just one of them.
by Paul Compton
I’m on a train. And running through my head are many thoughts, ideas and unhealthy amount of sugar.
Yes, I’ve been to CommsCamp. This was my second. And it was a belter.
So, before the cake comedown kicks in, I’m getting down some thoughts.
Here are some of the things I learned:
1. Lots more people are doing live video
Of the group I was in, more than half had tried out live streaming.
Considering Facebook only launched live a year ago and Instagram since, that’s pretty huge.
Some interesting examples including election coverage, Q&A sessions, and ongoing streams watching something happening on the screen and inviting people to comment on proceedings.
2. People are unware that you can live stream to just yourself so you can practice
Myself included. My first practice live stream was me walking around a green sports hall broadcasting to all my Facebook friends rambling on about my beard. It’s fair to say, I could have lived without the mickey taking.
3. To do live video well you need several things
A reason for doing it. A good wifi or 4G signal. Reliable tech. A bit of planning. A reccy of the place beforehand. At least two people to manage filming and answer comments. And an agreement from anyone you might be interviewing before you shove a camera in their face.
4. Communicators play an important part in supporting social media editors in our organisations
We can’t be everywhere. Often the best person to run a social media account about libraries, is the person in the library.
A good grounding of why they need to be on social media with an understanding of what’s involved should be established early.
Group meet ups in informal places to pass on best practice, knowledge, ideas, and encouragement is very effective. As is cake.
5. Data storytelling isn’t easy, but done well it can be effective
Infographics and data visualisations are wonderful things of beauty. But the data needs to tell a story, with the data coming first. And it needs a purpose too.
Organisations need to be using data more to inform policy and have a good idea of what’s going to happen to the figures in the future. That will make the storytelling much easier. There’s lots of tools to be able to tell these stories – Canva, Piktochart and Tableau to name a few.
Without context or purpose, data can be misrepresented (see the past three major political events). It's up to us as communicators to tell the real stories behind the data.
6. When it all hits the fan, emergency communications plans go right out of the window
We had a great discussion from communicators who were involved in the aftermath of the Manchester Attacks. Some amazing work in a testing situation with agencies pulling together, but allowing the lead agency to do the main comms.
It’s was clear that no one was sat reading through their LRF capability strategy for what they should do. It was second nature to them to manage the situation. And they just did it.
One thing that isn’t often considered is that during the chaos of managing the emergency, people are sending offers of help and well wishes. While this is brilliant to see, managing that against the incident is something that is seldom thought of in emergency planning.
7. People are still wary of using their own personal profile to engage with Facebook groups
I understand why people are against doing this. It’s difficult to put yourself in that position of mixing personal with work.
But the clear fact is the Facebook groups are being set up and growing daily. And we need to find ways of engaging with them and using them.
Some people build up relationships with the group owners, even inviting them in for briefings. Others rely on other influencers in the group to be their messengers.
There’s a limit to involvement: we can’t micromanage every communications issue within groups with just 50 members.
But there’s an ever-present view that public sector organisations aren’t connecting. We can only correct this by discussing issues with people in the places they are discussing them.
8. Facebook groups are being set up by organisations even more to engage with people
We heard about organisations planning to set up groups around specific issues.
One in particular to engage with people and support consultation work.
I am currently working with our apprentices to develop a group where they engage with people who would like to be apprentices. Telling them about their experiences and sharing useful content.
The power in groups to be able to connect with communities is strong. We all need to embrace it more.
9. There’s a lot of tat knocking around in people’s homes
Bus timetables from Wales, records from such 80s stars as Black Lace, official and unofficial Royal wedding china, a tat cat teapot and more.
Some people went home prize owners of new tat. The joy on their faces was a sight to behold.
10. There’s some fantastic bakers in the comms community
They’ve kept me on a blissful sugar high all day long. And all for a great cause.
More than happy to indulge myself and put some money towards #stuff4steph
Paul Compton is communications team leader at Dorset Councils Partnership.