10 years of being a head of comms and what do I have to show for it?

10 years in communications is a long time. 10 years being a head of comms is a really long time. Lessons are a plenty so here’s a post which attempts to capture the key ones.

By Darren Caveney

Well here’s the thing. I woke up this morning and for the first time in 10-years I am not a head of comms. This is a good thing because it means I have moved on to an exciting new phase of my career.

It’s an obvious time to reflect. Has 10 years of being a head of comms made me a better comms professional? And would I recommend the role to someone else? Here’s my take on it, my top tips and answers to these two simple questions.

I have had some fantastic opportunities. Worked with some brilliant colleagues. Won over a dozen industry awards with them and learned way more than you could ever capture in a single post. I have also sat in some dreary meetings. Had to argue the case for comms, over and over and over and over, and crossed swords with some quite unpleasant people. The rough with the smooth. You know the score.

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how to give the smaller people a bigger voice

Know your stuff. Know who covers your patch then get to know them. It's an approach that's as old as the hills but one that continues to bear fruit if done with skill.

by Russ Cockburn

It’s interesting to view how much the economic pendulum has swung since the global recession of 2009.

Back then a large part of the media’s agenda was sewn up with the big boys, the car producers, aerospace giants and the financial powerhouses would regularly adorn the pages of the nationals and the airtime of our major broadcasters.

Stories from SMEs - small, medium enterprises - did get covered, don’t get me wrong. However, more often than not they were neatly packaged away in their own special enterprise section and very rarely did they make it into mainstream news.

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social media and purdah: your handy guide

In the public sector, Purdah is a period in the run-up to the election  where comms changes. You are not allowed to promote politicians or get involved in a political campaign. Here are some guidelines for social media and Purdah.

by Dan Slee

There’s this funny period in the run-up to an election which sees local government comms team change behaviour.

Gone are the press releases from politicians and in comes quotes from officers. Why? To ensure that the council cannot be accused of political bias in the run up to polling day.

It’s been around for decades and local government comms teams have got a pretty good grasp of what this entails. It means under The Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity (Local Government Act 1986) that newsletters, press releases, conferences, badges and web pages are affected.

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why pitching well to journalists still works

It's often the most badly handled part of PR. The phone call to sell-in a story to a journalist. Done badly it ends with the phone slammed down. Done well and it can help you hit the bullseye. Here are some thoughts from a master of the craft.  

 by Russ Cockburn

Call me old fashioned, but I still love the cut and thrust of the ‘pitch’ to journalists.

Admittedly, I seem to be a rather shrinking breed if recent articles and twitter conjecture is anything to go by.

And I know from experience, a lot of younger PRs view picking up the phone as appealing a prospect as relying on a London Midland train to get you to your appointment on time.

Don’t get me wrong I can understand the apprehension. I’ve been given many a ‘short shrift’ by experienced hacks, been embroiled in heated exchanges when an embargo has been broken and been left exasperated at the choice of photo the picture editor chose to be a bit ‘different’.

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28 survival tips for a bad day and only one of them is booze

We've all been there. A shocking boss. A hopeless client. A journalist that gets the facts round their ear. It's the easiest thing in the world to have a bad day. But how to cope. One evening on Twitter we asked the questions and collected some interesting responses.

by Dan Slee 

You've had a shocker. Your boss is an idiot, your colleagues are numpties the person who you are working for don't get what you do. It's been a bad day at the office. Literally.

So, how do you cope? What do you do? How do you get over this hill without dragging everyone else in your life with you?

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