On my consultancy and training travels around the UK I get to learn so much from other people. And, so, I thought I would begin sharing some of it more regularly via the somewhat obvious blog post title of ’Things I learned this week’ 😊
I hope you like volume 01
by Darren Caveney
1. Give a comms team time and space and they will have brilliant ideas
One of the things I do a lot of in my in-house training workshops is set the team up to work on a live project, a forthcoming campaign, or a new priority comms plan.
The key here is two-fold: One – that the team has peace and quiet away from the distractions of phone, email, office interruptions and meetings.
And the second is that they get to work in a small team.
Now this isn’t exactly revolutionary but actually what I have been finding – increasingly – is that teams are becoming so busy and so stretched that they are very often not able to work in this way. Then the pressure builds to have a plan and the job of creating it often falls to one person to sit in a darkened room to craft it, and often in their own time.
This week I saw – first hand – a team given said time and space and they created three or four brilliant campaign ideas which really did have legs and, if delivered, really could have a big impact on the positive outcomes their organisation, and communities, need. They did that in little over an hour.
We have to give our ideas a chance to surface and to breathe but to do this we might need to tweak the way in which we operate as teams. So, something as simple as turning your monthly team meeting into a two-hour creative session to nail a plan can be time incredibly well spent.
You get better ideas when bouncing thoughts around with colleagues plus it’s more fun than working through a plan on your own.
2. Generation Z are changing our world – but how well do we know them?
Working with Rebecca Roberts on creating the new How to engage with young people training workshop has been so useful for me personally in terms of trying to stay even vaguely in touch with younger audiences. Of course, I like to think I am down with the kids but so very clearly I am not. And this is a challenge for all comms professionals – understanding all of our audiences whatever their age.
Generation Z are changing our world (and in many cases trying to put right our mistakes – think Greta Thunberg)
So, when you get the comms brief land on your desk to “engage with young people” what does that even mean? Young people are not one single homogenous group, same as any other group isn’t. Even with my own kids – both Generation Z – the differences between a 13-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy are quite cavernous in terms of their likes, concerns, channel choices and digital habits.
We make assumptions at our peril. It’s a very diverse group and the risk of an ageing comms pro like me ‘Dad dancing’ is high. So, we need to understand them a smidge better to have even a remote chance of engaging with them.
Here are some stats from Rebecca’s research which might surprise you:
– Generation Z spend on average 11 hours per day on social media
– 83% of 12-15-year olds in the UK own a smartphone
– The legal age to have a Tinder account is 13
– Research by Nike predicts that Generation Z will on average die five years younger than their parents
– Netflix is now the favourite brand of 16-24-year olds
3. The power of the community
One of the very core reasons for me wanting to create comms2point0 eight years ago was to – in my own little way – support our community by flagging best practice and sharing the learning.
Back then our networks and communities were arguably a little less well formed and, in fact, you would need to pay to join some of them. Social media shattered that ceiling. We formed our own networks and communities and we’re still doing so.
So, it was great to be invited to talk with a group of communications professionals in Surrey who meet regularly to collaborate, to share and to support. They are not unique in doing this of course – I was part of a West Midlands heads of comms network back in the day and other groups exist in places like Lancashire. But it’s heartening to see the learning still being shared in this way and a powerful reminder of the importance of face-to-face get togethers with colleagues and which cost nothing but your time.
The comms community is alive and well. If you don’t have a dedicated group in your neck of the woods then create your own. You only need a handful of people and a coffee or two and you’re away. Do it – you won’t regret it.
Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and owner of creative communicators ltd
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image via the U.S. National Archives