what’s in your comms room 101?

I'd love a chance to appear on the TV Show Room 101, although I'd struggle to narrow it down to just five choices. But what would your 'Comms 101' choices be?

by GUEST EDITOR Emma Rodgers 

I have been lucky recently to get to a couple of top-notch learning events – the LG Communications Digital seminar in Coventry and the comms2point0 Campaign Masterclass in Birmingham.

Instead of doing a blog on all the things I learnt from the event (of which there were many), I’ve instead opted for a post that will hopefully act as a little bit of therapy for comms peeps. It certainly did for us anyway at the time.

I’m all for sharing and while I’m generally always focussed on what the good things are to share. This time when pitching on both days, I was keen to take a different tact. It was a sharing, cathartic session whereby anyone who came along could get it out as to what was annoying them the most to do with digital at the LG Comms session, and what was annoying them most to do with campaigns at the masterclass event. 

Oh, it did feel good. Yes perhaps it took a little while to get warmed up and perhaps people were a little shy at first but they soon got down to it. So here’s the list in no particular order of what people at the sessions would quite happily catapult into the furthest reaches of Room 101. 

The 'Get it #OffYourChest' session

The digital session was- ironically - called the #OffyourChest session. Read on to see why. It certainly seems it is twitter bad habits that get your goat the most. 

  1. QR codes – oh yes it seems this is one thing that gets right up your nose. As quoted at the time – so 2011 and not really quite sure what their point is – why not just have a blooming short cut url instead.
  2. Words in hashtags  - while they are a comedy favourite of mine – others weren’t so keen. You can’t tell what they’re saying, not accessible and let’s not forget the delight of #Susanalbumparty
  3. Using too many twitter handles in one tweet. Old hat, boring and leaves no room to actually say anything. Get photo tagging instead. One
  4. On a similar vein – too many individual hashtag words – one ok, two at a push but three or more – get a grip it seems
  5. Long hashtags – blimey – what is with people feeling the need to have the longest hashtag ever? Brilliant example given of one client who wanted to create a hashtag event that left just nine characters to say everything else. Doh….

The campaign therapy session

No surprises around these parts. You’ve heard them all before but sharing them does make them feel less annoying somehow. Well, ok maybe just a tiny bit but you get the drift.

  1. Can I have a comms plan? Yup – you know the ones – they’ll never look at the plan, they’ll never use it but they want one right….
  2. Can I have a leaflet? It’s like the can I have a press release question – no regard for who the audience is, what they’re trying to achieve or even if will work – they just need to have that leaflet
  3. I want an x, y or z. Yes that. Those people who come to you with no regard for your professional advice or whether it will be the right thing to achieve that business objective. They have the answer and they’re right. It’s a little like going to the doctor and telling them what prescription to write out for you.
  4. The no budget approach. It’s fine to have no budget – we’re all about more for less and in fact that’s where public sector communicators come into their own. But when you come to us with no budget and have the highest expectations in the world. A national TV ad, full page of editorial in the guardian, going viral on Youtube. Seriously?
  5. The completely unrealistic request – we’ve got an event in three hours and we haven’t invited anyone yet and that includes the speakers – can you sort it? We need a multi-channel campaign planning, creating and delivering in just a week – please can you help? We want to see long term behaviour change of 10,000 people after just 14 days. Yes those ones. And yes we do turn so many really tough, complex, rock hard things into campaigns of great beauty with fab starts, middles, ends and evaluation but we’re not yet capable of turning water into wine, no matter how hard we’ll try for you.  Our conclusion – you can’t keep saving people from themselves and let’s be honest the more you say yes, the less value it holds. As Zammo*** said in Grange Hill – Just say no. It will make you feel better just because you did.

So what do you think? Do you agree with any of the above or do you have another corker that you want to share? I ‘d love to hear what’s in your comms room 101*?

*room 101 – thanks to Matt Johnson who when we were chatting gave me the idea of putting all the things that annoy you into room 101

** room 101 – read about George Orwell’s Room 101 here

*** Zammo in Grange Hill  - don’t know the reference - read about it here

Emma Rodgers is Senior Communications Manager at Stoke City Council

image via Wikimedia Commons