Comms conference

A peek behind the CommsHero mask

Over the previous few years there’s been a motion occurring in inner comms. Each few months I’ve spotted IC execs donning capes and masks by way of social media and flashing some fabulous stationery as part of the CommsHero conferences.

What’s it all about? Ought to Comms execs be declaring themselves as heroes? What’s the considering behind it?

Josephine Graham @iojosy is Inner Communications Lead at Bradford Council and presently seconded to NHS Digital as Inner Comms Senior Manager. She additionally volunteers on the CIPR Yorkshire and Lincolnshire regional committee.

She attended the latest CommsHero occasion  final week and is here with a guest publish to share the story behind the masks and what she learnt.

I’ll hand you over…

CommsHero – maintaining it actual since 2014

I’ve never labored in London. I’ve visited a number of occasions and it’s nice enough. You’ve obtained some great museums, a number of palaces and a heck of numerous company headquarters.

And with all that corporate workforce to cater for, London also has scores of breakfast briefings, drinks receptions, and conferences galore to maintain everyone networked up and on prime of their recreation.

However guess what. 88% of this country’s population is outdoors London. And even the CIPR’s latest State of the Career report recognises that around three quarters of PR practitioners exist past our capital.

So throughout our nation, from Aberdeen to Anglesey, Belfast to Bridlington, there are tens of hundreds of devoted, gifted comms and PR varieties, for whom a visit to London, for an expensive convention or post-work networking event, with the related travel and lodge costs, is simply not that accessible. That goes for our colleagues in the countless in-house and company teams around the UK, however is doubly the case for anybody working their very own small business, or working in a public sector or not-for profit organisation.

Again to the start
That is the situation that Bradford-born Asif Choudry @AsifChoudry set out to handle in 2014 when he first had the concept for CommsHero. Fed up of paying tons of of pounds for identikit conferences, being talked at by individuals from companies with budgets so immense you would by no means emulate anything they did, he determined to take a danger (or ‘dare to fail’ as he places it) and check out something a bit of totally different.

I gained’t inform his full story here, however in abstract, in the area of eight weeks, Choudry launched the CommsHero brand, started spreading the #CommsHero love on Twitter, and created an event in Manchester where 80 professionals gathered for a full day convention, with tonnes of swag (freebies) and terrific speakers, for the highly modest price-tag of simply £180.

Now in its fifth yr, and after touring places around the UK together with Bristol, Leeds and London (just so nobody feels omitted), the twelfth CommsHero has just taken place, back in the place of its origin – Manchester’s spectacular Bridgewater Corridor. And I used to be there.

The way to strategy conferencing heroically

So CommsHero claims to be totally different, however is it actually?

Properly, I put it to you, at how many conferences are you able to look forward to finding an actual superhero cape and mask in your goody bag, while opposite the espresso bar there’s a dressing up rail and heroic backdrop for photograph ops?

Meanwhile, quite than canapés and poo, at the latest CommsHero bash we enjoyed a mug of Yorkshire Tea and a selection of ‘dunkable’ biscuits. OK, so perhaps tea and biscuits isn’t exactly ‘out there’ in relation to conference catering – but you don’t often discover a ‘wheel of dunkability’ that will help you choose which biscuit to go for.

However it’s not about the gimmicks, though they’re enjoyable. Individuals go to CommsHero because they get great networking, hear from thought leaders like Grant Leboff, find out business developments from peers leading the method (Greggs, Yorkshire Tea, Yorkshire Wildlife Park and Innocent) plus all the extras reminiscent of dazzling cartoonist and comms siren Helen Reynolds who popped along to compère.

#TBT can you consider it’s every week since #CommsHero XII! To mark the occasion here’s the @WrekinHT SQUAD strutting their heroic stuff 🦸‍♀️🦸‍♂️👌@ET_Comms @LoisHarding @Laura_Batty @minitrue_ @KathrynLHolmes pic.twitter.com/EW4K33p8ph

— Nick Armstrong (@Nick_Resource) June 13, 2019

So what about the content?

OK, OK I was getting round to this.

The theme this time was ‘authenticity’ – #KeepingItReal. How can we be more human and relatable, be true to our manufacturers, be ‘proper’ (as Yorkshire Tea put it), discover our pure brand voice and have actual conversations with our publics?

The audio system took us on a journey, with every presentation creating new avenues of thought on a constant theme. You might not help but decide up some useable or inspirational insights alongside the approach, to assist with the day job.

Listed here are my three prime takeaways from the day

1) Leboff on model

Speaking about model, writer and skilled Grant Leboff is nothing in need of gripping. I’m awe of the clarity and authority he brings – in the event you ever get the opportunity to hear him converse, don’t move it up.

“Brand is the process of taking an inanimate or indistinguishable product or service, and giving it meaning.”

Like reworking a barely sickly, fizzy brown liquid into Coca Cola. Rattling, he makes it sound so apparent!

Brand is an idea the public sector particularly typically struggles with. It’s a lot greater than a emblem and coordinating colour palette.

Leboff supplies a useful triangle to help us hone our considering, combining (1) the distinctive or particular services or products we offer to our clients, (2) our ethos or objective why we hassle and (3) the emotional connection we hope to make with our stakeholders.

My day at #commshero in 1 minute! Superb day 👏👏 @CommsHero pic.twitter.com/T66Gjs7tev

— Lauren Millward (Heaton) (@lmillward86) June 6, 2019

This is model. Growth! But making an attempt to seize his wisdom is a blog submit (or certainly a e-book) in its own proper, so I’ll give up whereas I’m ahead on that one.

2) Properness

As a committed Yorkshire Tea drinker, listening to from this award profitable workforce (represented by model leads Sam Ward and Gina Stringer) was all the time going to be a spotlight for me. ‘Properness’ is the angle, or ethos, that brings the entire firm, not just the comms and advertising staff, collectively.

For example, once they needed to create a biscuit domino rally to launch their ‘biscuit brew’, they didn’t just film a couple of sections in a studio and edit it collectively, oh no. They obtained a correct domino rally skilled in, set up a proper course in the Harrogate HQ, with actual biscuits (rigorously filed so they might get up straight), then filmed the entire thing in real time to make a fantastically partaking movie which has had virtually 1.5 million hits on YouTube.

To be trustworthy, my foremost takeaway from this (as somebody who has spent the last 10 years working for an area council) was, wow, it have to be good to work for a corporation the place the public likes you!

But in fact, notwithstanding that tea and occasional is somewhat more benign than your much- derided native bin and council tax collectors, a substantial amount of that love is right down to the sensible dealing with of the Yorkshire Tea model by the staff and business as an entire.

It’s clear that the comms and advertising staff combines exceptional creativity with a strong strategic planning strategy – whereas all the time permitting a little bit of give for capitalising on sudden presents, comparable to a World Cup footballer casually mentioning Yorkshire Tea is his favourite model. (They reacted shortly and sent him a personalised field of tea – gaining a huge quantity of constructive media protection consequently.)

With so many concepts and opportunities, they use a useful strategy to choose what to prioritise – provided that an concept will attraction to their clients, their media stakeholders AND it matches their firm ethos will it go ahead.

3) Individuals like humorous posts about animals

I’ve been a fan of Liam Smith’s work since his Doncaster Council days – he and former colleague Rob Jefferson are extensively recognised as game-changers in the world of council social media. Since his transfer to Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Smith’s ingenuity has been further unleashed. He’s naturally creative and hilarious and – dangerous information for us mere mortals – I feel a portion of that is innate talent which not everyone can study. But all shouldn’t be misplaced, as a result of he gamely shared many ideas which any of us might adopt to create extra partaking content material – whether or not for social media, inner comms or some other channel.

Learn how to get more individuals to take up job vacancies 101. By @LiamS29 from @YorkshireWP.

Oh and find out how to be tremendous partaking utilizing social media. #CommsHero pic.twitter.com/J31ZoIjd76

— CommsHero (@CommsHero) June 6, 2019

He encourages us to take dangers. Why – as a result of otherwise we’re in peril of being boring.  He also spoke knowledgeably about ‘finding your voice’ – if your company have been a person what would they be like? In inner communications we typically fall foul of lapsing right into a boring company voice in our copy, as a result of that’s what we are despatched by our managers or inner stakeholders, and we’re too busy to do anything about it. So this was a timely reminder that, on a tactical degree, it is our job to inject a bit of spark and creativity into our communications, in order that the company voice represents a character that folks truly need to hear from.

Just ending a blog publish about #CommsHero on Thursday. Looks like a superb time to take pleasure in the jammie dodger from my goodie bag. #Dunkability pic.twitter.com/UKkYCVDiKY

— Josephine Graham (@iojosy) June 8, 2019

Smith’s key message for me was – make a flipping effort. When requested to place out a job advert (probably the “dullest content ever”) he took a step again and challenged himself to do it in a more fascinating means, and ended up devising an interactive job interview on Instagram. (No, I didn’t know that was potential either.) This resulted in more click-throughs to the jobs web page than any job-related social media the park had ever put out before.

#shiningthespotlight on #CommsHero attendee @KatieRua from @nihecommunity fame pic.twitter.com/4WmWsYuryj

— CommsHero (@CommsHero) June 6, 2019

That’s how CommsHero varieties roll

The training above represents just three of the nice audio system on the day – we also heard from Greggs, Harmless, and Mr Comms Hero, Asif Choudry, himself. And this ace occasion, with luggage of CPD, befell in Manchester, 179 miles from London, enjoying to a room of delegates from predominately not-for-profit and public sector organisations, for whom the £180 ticket was a sensible funding they might justify.

CommsHero is just not the solely reasonably priced convention round – it’s part of a wave of free and reasonably priced studying occasions which have sprung up around the nation over the previous couple of years. Typically funded by way of sponsorship, or made potential by way of the work of volunteers, these are organised by individuals who care passionately about skilled improvement and need to make a distinction.

And that’s what being heroic is all about.

Publish writer: Josephine Graham.

Thank you on your ideas Josephine. I’ve not been to a CommsHero occasion and recognize you sharing your takeaways from the current event.

First revealed on the All Things IC weblog June 2019. Yow will discover Josephine on Twitter @iojosy and see @CommsHero.

Study Inner Comms with Rachel

My upcoming Masterclass dates could be discovered on the Masterclasses pages of this website. Thank you to the skilled communicators who came to my Strategic Inner Communication Masterclass on Tuesday (pictured under).

Not based mostly in the UK? I can maintain a mini session with you by way of Skype, take a look at my work with me choices. Please observe my diary is presently booked till late September 2019, so I’m taking bookings from the Autumn onwards. Do let me understand how I will help you.

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