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Thursday
Apr232015

dear residents, please remember we are all humans….

Social media can be great. You reach residents you don't normally connect with. Of course, the flipside of social media is that can you get shouted at in your own time as this heartfelt blog says.

by A Local Government Officer

It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m working. It’s raining – fair enough – but I still probably shouldn’t be working. I’ve got a toddler who is demanding attention (and some housework that could do with some, too), but instead I’m at my laptop.

I’m working because I’m part of a tiny (reduced) communications team for a council. I am working on a Sunday because if I don’t, I won’t get everything done that needs to be done during a working week.  I think this type of working is known as ‘doing more with less’, but I digress.

While I wait to be allowed into the IT system, I pick up my iPhone to check the council’s Twitter account We don’t officially monitor Twitter out of office hours, but in reality, we do. We all check in from home so we can stay on top of any evolving issues and keep in touch with what’s being said to us/about us, at evenings and weekends.

I am met wit

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr192015

message to comms people: stop being hopeless at telling your own story

A fightback has begun over what local government comms people do. It's good to see. But you can play your part too. It starts with you on the rooftops shouting.

by Dan Slee

An elderly American came up with the line about if the PR person becomes the news, then it’s probably not good.

Think images of spin doctors Alastair Campbell or Andy Coulson being pursued by a Press pack down the street and there's some truth in it. The aim is to be behind-the-scenes, surely?

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Wednesday
Apr152015

instatips: 10 tips to make you better at Instagram - part 1 

When he’s not leading on social media at the University of Warwick, Dave Musson is a photographer and an avid and active Instagramer, with over 60,000 followers. As Instagram is becoming an increasingly important tool in the 21st century comms pro’s arsenal, we asked Dave to share a few Instatips – here’s part one, which focuses on self-improvement.

By Dave Musson

Unlike pets, children or colleagues, there’s no shame to be had or relationships to destroy in declaring your favourite social network. For me, it’s Instagram and has been for a long time – it’s incredibly social, it’s made with mobile in mind and it’s a daily source of inspirational photography.

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Wednesday
Apr152015

does sky tv's targeted ad system work?

Reaching a target audience more effectively is one of the aims of the comms team. But it can be hard. But TV ads? Would they work?

by Anushka Desai

We were approached by Sky TV to try their new AdSmart system to reach a specific target audience for our fostering campaign.  In January this year we ran the campaign for 30 days and you can read more here. 

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Tuesday
Apr142015

a response from cormac smith to the press gazette

Last week's Press Gazette claimed that 3,400 communications staff – more than double the total for central government - worked in local government. Here's a response by the Chair of LGcomms...

by Cormac Smith

In last week's Press Gazette, William Turvill wrote about local councils employing at least 3,400 communications staff – more than double the total for central government. His report went on to talk about the decline of local newspapers, implying to this reader a link - but never actually provided any evidence of one. 

It is not local councils who have decided to cut back investment in local titles – it is the publishers of these titles who have done this.

He went on to talk about questionable practice in a small number of councils and quoted a regional political editor who suggested many journalists would balk at the number of communications officers employed by local government – but who did not say why.

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Tuesday
Apr142015

the uncomfortable alliance: journalists, comms teams and the politics of envy

You know how when sometimes you read something. And you just have to put pen to paper...

by Julie Waddicor

Journalists are interesting beasts aren’t they? Most of you will know that intimately, as you are either a former journalist yourself, work closely with colleagues who were journalists in a past life, or deal with them in a daily basis through your job.

Regional journalists exist in a state of dichotomy. One hand they are generally irritated by bureaucracy, can have an outdated image of local government (as wasteful, useless and full of people who couldn’t survive in the real world), have little time for complexity (and local government is complex), may or may not believe in public service, and may or may not believe in the need to employ people to deliver it.

On the other hand they have a passion for truth and clarity, they want openness and they use great communication to tell stories.

So, just like a good comms officer really. They are also faced with a massively changing industry, with little time to adapt and little job security. Ah: so with familiarity comes contempt.

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Monday
Apr132015

your cut out and keep guide to saying ‘no’ to daft requests - part 2: the revenge

Last month we started a discussion around how comms teams often have to say no to colleagues and that this can be tricky. But the list of 'no’s' was bigger than we thought...

by Gillian Neild 

I agree with Darren Caveney in his post that comms teams have received disparaging looks from colleagues when we have had to say no to daft requests. It’s all too easy to forget we have been employed for some very specialist knowledge, so when we do say no, there’s a good reason for it.

So here’s part 2 of our 'cut out and keep' guide to saying no to daft requests (and, yet again - very sadly - all of these are also real.)

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Apr112015

into the confectionery stall and out again

Like many people I was sad to hear of the death of cricket commentator Richie Benaud on Friday.

by Darren Caveney

Richie Benaud defined cricket commentary for my generation and I’ll always remember his rich words during that iconic summer of 1981 and the greatest test series I think ever took place - Botham’s Ashes.

But it was Richie Benaud’s articulate, measured, soothing descriptions of events taking place on the pitch that elevated the games from brilliant to unforgettable.

And it spawned my favourite piece of sporting commentary ever when he described a huge six from Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham against a flagging Australian side:

“Don’t even bother looking for that, let alone chasing it. It’s gone straight into the confectionery stall – and out again.”

It’s been a much repeated quote since his passing but those who were around at the time didn’t need a reminder, it was tucked away in the memory bank for life. A truly brilliant and totally unplanned line.

To me he was just an incredible communicator and storyteller.

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Thursday
Apr022015

video: trust me, pr is dead... in brum

One of the things that truly makes our heart sing is hearing bright new ideas. Just recently, we hosted a session with former Edelman PR chief Robert Phillips. His new book 'Trust Me: PR is Dead' is a comprehensive takedown of many established practices and an argument for a new way. The good people at Boilerhouse made a short film so you could learn more.

by Dan Slee

Of course, it was entirely fitting that an event for a book about the power of networks should be held in a venue built by networks.

The book was Robert Phillips' 'Trust Me: PR is Dead' his take-down of the traditional PR industry in a post-spin networked world. We've written about it before here and here.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr012015

early birds and worms: why engaging with your comms team at the start of your project really is the tastiest option

A tale of birds, worms and talking about things early on.

by Rachel Moss

“I’m not psychic!” is the clarion call of many an in-house comms pro. And, oh, if we were - wouldn’t the world be a better place?

It’s that head in your hands moment when something lands on your desk not long before it needs to go out and you’re asked to work some magic, make it look pretty – oh, and get some press coverage if you can.

If only you knew before. You could have prepared; planned a great comms approach linked to tangible objectives and done something you and your organisation would be proud of.

I hear about it so many times from PRO’s across the country – how in-house comms teams aren’t involved in projects early enough to add real value and impact.

Much of the commsforchange14 event last summer – organised jointly by the brilliant comms2point0 and the Public Sector Customer Services Forum - was built around addressing this very problem. I couldn’t go, but it looked excellent.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar312015

what I’ve learned after I quit my job to work on comms2point0 fulltime

12-months ago I swapped uncertainty with no control and a public sector comms job for starting a business to make comms2point0 my fulltime job. Here's what I learned.

by Dan Slee

Twelve months ago I posted that I was leaving local government to do more in the sector.

I left Walsall Council to concentrate full-time on comms2point0. It felt like the right thing to do then and know it was the right thing to do now.

How has that first year gone? At times exhausting, exhilarating, jubilant, rewarding, frustrating, happy and lots else besides.

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Monday
Mar302015

stop the clocks for fatherhood, hugh grant and getting stuff done

"If only I had more time..." How often do we hear that? No one is going to hand you a big wodge of it, So how do we manage our time better?

by Andrew Hadfield

It’s early in the morning. Very early. My three month old daughter does not seem to have fully grasped the clock change ­ where both her mother and I are trying (unsuccessfully) to claw back the hour we lost last night (and many more from the past week).

After several verses of ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’, many different ‘that’s not my..[rabbit etc]’ books and of course plenty of tickle time, she finally goes back to sleep for her morning snooze just as I have fully woken up. Wonderful timing.

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Monday
Mar302015

cherish the things you love for one day they will be gone

There’s a certain age and point in your life when you begin to reflect on things that little bit more than you did in your care-free twenties…

By Darren Caveney

I’ve reached that point.

Reflecting.

These reflections include work life and personal life and that’s a good and natural thing. Questioning what you’ve achieved and delving a little deeper into what you really want to do with the rest of your life.

And events which occur in our personal lives add to this and can't help but remind you that nothing lasts forever.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar292015

how london ambulance service ‘newsjacked’ zayn malik

Sometimes comms is about thinking on your feet and being creative. Even when a boyband member quits.

by Dan Sutherland 

When you think of One Direction, the flashing blue lights of a London ambulance cruising through the night taking a seriously ill patient to hospital doesn’t spring to mind. Unless the patient they’re taking is one of the boyband’s billion fans worldwide.

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Friday
Mar272015

download and blog: unpacking purdah: what do pre-election publicity restrictions mean in practice?

In a set period before an election tight restrictions come into force on what comms teams in the public sector can and can't do. The Local Government Association have written a rather fab guide from a local government perspective. Follow the link in the blog to the download.

by David Holdstock

The countdown for local and national elections has started and communications teams in councils around the country are working out what this means for them. In response to requests for guidance, we recently produced a short guide to the publicity restrictions during the run-up to an election.  Nearly 5,000 downloads later, even I’ve been surprised by the level of interest.

The term ‘purdah’ has come into popular use in both central and local government to describe the time immediately before elections and referendums when, amongst other things, particular care must be taken in the way communications teams operate.

Click to read more ...