star wars: content, brand re-boot and how to recover $4.1 billion

It's been hard to avoid it online, on TV, on the radio or in the school yard... there's a new Star Wars film. But this buzz isn't an accident and there's a lesson to learn.

by Julie Waddicor

A word of warning before we begin: if you haven’t seen ‘The Force Awakens’ and intend to, stop reading now. I am probably going to ruin it for you. These aren’t the droids you are looking for.

If you are still with me, you’ve either already seen it or aren’t going to, either of which is fine for our purposes. I saw it recently, and enjoyed it. I wouldn’t describe myself as a Star Wars fan, but I’ve seen all of the films, appreciated the original three and hated the more recent trilogy. I have bought a range of merchandise over the last month for the man of the house who is a fan (more of his opinion later). So, I went to see ‘The Force Awakens’ with no particular axe to grind nor any desperate need for it to be brilliant.

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is the future of comms unequal?

Look around at comms teams and there is an imbalance. The senior people are men. The team are overwhelmingly female. That surely means the people at the top will be female in future, surely?

by Julie Waddicor

As many of my colleagues have blogged and tweeted, the first session of the LGCommunications ‘Future Leaders’ programme took place a couple of weeks ago. It is a fantastic programme that I am hugely honoured to be a student of. It’s the kind of opportunity that money would struggle to buy: the bringing together of a group of peers (and the other people on the course are both hugely impressive and talented, so I better up my game), the allocation of a mentor and the opportunity to talk to people like Alex Aiken (Executive Director for Government Communications) and Christian Cubitt (Deputy Spokeperson to the Prime Minister), who frankly have other, fairly pressing calls upon their time.

If you ever have the chance to take part, I would urge you to do so wholeheartedly.

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campaigns that made a difference, and one that should have

I was listening to Public Enemy’s ‘Harder than you think’ recently, and it took me straight back to the summer of 2012.

by Julie Waddicor

‘Harder than you think’ was the iconic song used by Channel 4 for its ‘Meet the Superhumans’ campaign for the Paralympics. Now, that was a truly outstanding bit of marketing. Yes, they had huge budgets and yes, they had blanket TV coverage, the like of which we in local government can only dream of. But fundamentally, some bright spark had the creative vision to identify the people taking part in the Paralympics as super-human, rather than defined by their disability, and to use a song with the line ‘Thank you for letting us be ourselves’.

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who should we really be talking to?

It's never been more important to base our communications activities on sound intelligence about who our residents and customers are. And checking that that evidence is up to date is also vital.

by Julie Waddicor

Who sets your comms priorities? Your councillors, your boss, your residents? I imagine that, in most local government organisations, it is a bit of all three. That’s fair enough (to an extent), but a lack of focus on residents and their issues, in the right proportions, could mean a lot of our efforts go to waste.

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