We thought it would be interesting to begin hosting a couple of Twitter Chats each month on key challenges facing the community. We kicked off with this great session on the 'ideal comms team' - it sparked a flurry of tweets and over 1.1million potential Twitter impacts.
by Ben Capper
You can always count on the comms2point0 to pitch in with ideas and thoughts when you ask them.
Last Wednesday's #IdealCommsTeam lunchtime Twitter chat was a true example of this.
The expertise, the experiences (good and bad), the challenges and the triumphs came thick and fast during a cracking hour of discussion in response to my comms2point0 post on the Ideal Comms Team last week.
Just as a reminder, there were a few key rules to the questions we asked during the conversation:
- You’re only allowed three people (one of which should be you)
- You’re starting from scratch
- You can buy in time from agencies and others when you need to.
So what did I take from it?
Well, certainly, that there’s no one perfect way to do things, but here the other things I took from it:
Focus more on outcomes than outputs
There was a general feeling that, especially in a small team, the focus needed to be more on the strategy and setting the tone of the conversation, rather than constantly getting tangled up in producing output after output.
As one contributor said, it’s about not becoming “the leaflet factory”, but more about ensuring you’re working on the basis of sound insight, with clear consistent messages.
Certainly within a small team, there was a clear view that it’s crucial to be “unbiased in channel choice” – and this in theory would rule-out employing channel-specific specialists.
For what it’s worth, I agree wholeheartedly with this view, and is really behind a lot of my thinking in the blog.
It’s time to think of ourselves as the brains of the operation, and take control of the agenda, as well as just being the producers.
Talent trumps experience (most of the time)
This was an interesting one.
And even though there was some debate about it, I think the feeling was fairly unanimous, captured perfectly here.
This one has always been a frustrating one for me to observe, especially in notoriously (though I guess understandably) risk averse organisations like the NHS. There’s been a temptation to look for a “safe pair of hands” who “brings with them many years of valuable experience doing this exact same thing in about ten other places.”
I think there’s a real problem with this approach.
Notwithstanding the fact that you very often end up with people coming into organisations on high salaries who think of “digital comms” as a specialism, and have to rely on a young member of the team who “is young so gets these things” to set up their Twitter account for them, before asking them “so what exactly is a hashtag?” before continuing “Oh God, no, I’m not on Facebook. Why would you want to share what you had for lunch with the world?”….
Yes, notwithstanding that, I think this can have a really negative effect on the younger members of the team that are talented, and whose roles have taken them as far as they can, and are passionate and are seeking to progress. Bringing in the “experienced, safe pair of hands” over the heads of others in the team that want to progress, can have very obvious and unfortunate effects on morale.
Appointing less experienced but talented people is a risk, no doubt. But according to the participants of this discussion, it’s a balanced risk worth taking.
Everyone needs to be all-rounder
Again, in a small team, even one that is mostly focused on strategy, it’s really important that everyone is an all-rounder to some extent.
This ace tweet shows how this could work.
And this blog follows this theme on by asking “Is the Comms Specialist Dead?”
Well maybe it’s not dead. But the “specialist” role probably sits a bit more comfortably in a large team, or possibly in the future, maybe just in agencies, who knows….
Leaders need to get their hands dirty
The first question we asked was around what the leader’s role should be.
Lots of discussion here around being the owner of the strategy, giving the team freedom to express themselves etc. All bang on.
But there was also some good discussion here about making sure, again especially in a small team, that the “sweet” and the “grunt” work is evenly distributed, with the Leader taking their fair share.
I think this is called “Leading from the Front” in management speak, but it’s absolutely spot on. The leader can’t just be the one that goes to the fancy meetings where they have the nice coffee and biscuits. It’s also imperative that where necessary, they’re also out on a Saturday afternoon getting soggy, putting in the tough graft.
This is the way to get a cohesive team where everyone respects each other, and understands each other’s challenges.
So, a great conversation, and one that will stand me in very good stead moving into my new role in November.
Thanks comms2point0 people – you’re the best.
Ben Capper is marketing manager at Wirral University Teaching Hospital (and will soon be heading up a Comms and Engagement function within a new Health and Social Care Partnership in Wirral) He blogs here.
image via Flickr creative commons