housing magazines – do they have a future?

Budget cuts continue to hit all parts of the public sector. The communications industry has responded and has worked with these cuts for years now. This new survey puts a spotlight on the future of the magazines created for housing customers.

by Ade Capon

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why faceless civil servant is never a good look

We've come a long way, baby, as country singer Loretta Lynn once sang. Once, the idea of using social media in the public sector was bold and revolutionary. Now it is common place. Perhaps the greatest thing about this is that it puts a human face onto civil servants who are human too.

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your chance to learn from the unawards winners. for free

The UnAwards15 were my highlight of 2015. Having the opportunity to see the passion, creativity and results from some of the brilliant work taking place across the UK and beyond was quite a privilege.

by Darren Caveney

The UnAwards ceremony was a belter – well, I swear I heard someone say that on the day.

It was a unique event which placed an important spotlight on our industry and in a way which was accessible to everyone regardless of budget or grade.

After the event, many of you asked for the chance to see and hear more about the winning work.

So, with just one shake of a billy goat’s tail, we have organised an UnAwards Winners Masterclass.

Actually, that’s a lie. We have organised three.  This gives us the chance to take the Masterclasses around the country with regional events taking place in Leeds, Birmingham and London.

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it’s the most wonderful time of the year: unawards 2015

There was real celebratory feel about the UnAwards15, which we’re pretty pleased about because that’s exactly what we hoped to achieve.

By Darren Caveney

The UnAwards15 saw 140 colleagues from across the industry descend on the very cool Everyman Cinema in Birmingham last Thursday. The mood was one of big event excitement - Christmas party meets trip to a posh cinema mixed with lashing of great communicators celebrating one another’s work.

Holding the UnAwards at Christmas is deliberate too – we wanted to add a little festive sparkle to the proceedings.

We’re a tad biased but we felt the whole day was a little bit special.

Sitting watching the fabulous Planes, Trains and Automobiles with what felt like a great big group of pals was pretty amazing. The film had a whole bunch of relevant messages and takeaways (and if you have ever watched the movie remember – ‘never assume you are cuddling a pillow’)

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#unawards15 – the shortlist

Well that was fun.

Yesterday saw the end of our public vote and the announcement of the #UnAwards15 shortlist. I went slightly bog-eyed watching it all unfold but we now know the runners and riders in all 15 categories.

By Darren Caveney

Over 140 entries poured into the UnAwards15 from across the UK and from as far afield as Norway.

Central government, local government, NHS, Police, Housing, Fire, Higher Education, third sector and the agency world all took part and our 14 external judges have had quite a task in getting down to our final shortlist.

The standard of your entries this year has been high. We know this because some of our judges are hard to impress, But impressed they were.

Our love and respect for this fabulous comms, PR, marketing and digital community, which we all exist in, just grows and grows and thank you so much for supporting the #UnAwards15.

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prints not dead: what launching a print magazine taught a digital native

Print is dead, right? Maybe not. On the day the NME became a free sheet available at train stations and TopMan, Louder Than War expanded from their success online and launched as a glossy magazine. Editor of louderthanwar.com Sarah Lay shares her experience of growing from digital to include print.

by Sarah Lay

The first issue of Louder Than War magazine featured the Stone Roses on the cover and was titled ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. In truth it could have carried another song title from the band, ‘I Am the Resurrection’, and been just as fitting for Louder Than War’s bold move into print.

That’s right, as the increasingly hysterical cry of ‘print is dead’ resounds and on the day that stalwart of the music press NME moved to become a free sheet given out in train stations, Louder Than War made the dauntless move to swim against the tide and launch as a glossy, paid-for, magazine. While that sinks in let me introduce you to Louder Than War properly.

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5 reasons why you should review your communications. And one reason why you won’t.

There’s nothing new in saying that we should review and evaluate work to see what works. It’s obvious and it’s important. The problem is that many of us don’t do it often enough.

By Darren Caveney

The chances of there being a comms person out there today who doesn’t think that reviewing and evaluating their work is important will be tiny.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – we know it’s important, but when there are 10 people asking for my help, three comms plans to write, the phone ringing off the hook and the impacts of a comms team which has been cut in half it’s a lot easier said than done.

Sound familiar? Yep, me too.

Amongst the many things I learned in 10 years of leading comms teams it’s that standing back and taking a good hard look at your work is 1. Absolutely vital, and 2. Something of a luxury to do often and well. Like wanting a brand new car but settling for paying the bare minimum to get the old car through another year’s MOT (and that sounds familiar too)

With the consultancy work I have been doing with comms2point0 I have had the incredible opportunity to review a dozen organisation’s communications activity in microscopic detail. This is fascinating work and I thoroughly engross myself in the detail of these reviews. They tell stories and give clear indicators to the ‘what should we do next?’ question.

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failing to avoid the new John Lewis TV advert... and what it means for comms

It's hard to avoid the new John Lewis TV advert. In fact, you are far more likely to see it not by watching TV at all. Pick up a newspaper, magazine or go online and you'll come across it.

by Dan Slee

Well, I wasn't going to. And I didn't seek it out but the new John Lewis TV ad gives a perfect lesson for where comms is right now.

You may know it. It's a two minute film of a little girl spotting the man on the moon looking sad and sending him a present to cheer him up at Christmas time. An old Oasis b-side has been re-recorded for the music. 

Not watching much television I wasn't aware of it. But of course, I remember the penguin TV ad from last year. But I didn't have to watch TV to find out about the new TV ad. It was being discussed on BBC Radio 5 on the way home and all over Twitter.

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the real reason why you should enter the UnAwards

There are several reasons for us running the UnAwards 15. Celebrating the work and efforts of colleagues across comms, PR, marketing and digital is right up there amongst them, of course.

But for me it runs a little deeper than that.

By Darren Caveney

We run the UnAwards to support and – in our own way - fly a flag for folks across the UK and beyond who are working in difficult circumstances and still delivering day after day. To sing for the unsung, to recognise the unrecognised.

I hear – and I hear it way too often, I’m afraid – of some less than great behaviours by some organisations and the way they are treating staff. To a degree this is to be expected with the enormous and ongoing cuts to the public sector – with 350k people leaving local government alone in the past five years there is unprecedented change taking place.

But this doesn’t excuse shoddy behaviour.

Lack of recognition has been a theme in much of the staff survey feedback I have seen over the years too. Sometimes your achievements will be appreciated by others, sometimes they’ll not be. That’s a fact of comms life, as it is in life.

And for me, part of the UnAwards is flying back into face of this and celebrating what you do and do well. We’ve been at, and are, at your coalface so we know.

So the real reason that you should enter the UnAwards is to celebrate you.

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#prstack: the power of community

Ding, ding. Round two. So here we go again. The second generation #PRstack hits the virtual (and actual) shelves of public relations land today.

by David Sawyer

Thirty PR practitioners writing case studies about how they use online tools to do their job better and faster.

I’ve read a few and can’t wait to pore over the rest.

If anything, the quality’s even higher.

Last time round it was a case of “Oooh, I’d not heard of that one. Let’s give it a go.”

In MKII it’s more “Oooh, I was au fait with x and y but never thought of using them together to do z.”

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top tips for success in the UnAwards 2015

We know many of you are working on your entries and nominations for the UnAwards 2015. We thought it would be useful to share some top tips on giving you the best shot at success this year.

By Darren Caveney

You have six weeks to work on your entries.  Sounds plenty of time doesn't it?  But the deadline will be here before you know it.

We’ve all left award entries until the last minute in the past due to other competing work demands. But is that what your best work this year deserves? No, course not.

So use the time wisely and have a think about which of the 15 categories are a best fit with the activity and projects you are most proud of. Grab a coffee, sit somewhere quiet for 10 minutes with a pencil and a piece of paper and begin sketching out your ideas or a small mind map for your entry. Focus on the best way to make it stand out from the crowd.

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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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