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An #UnAwards19 reflection

by Sally Northeast

The words in the title of my post may look like they’re in the wrong order but stick with me – there’s a reason for it…


I was in the privileged position of being shortlisted – either individually or as part of a team – for four Unawards in 2019. In a total field of 350 entries that’s no mean feat. But as each relevant category came and went there were no wins for me, the Comms Unplugged team or my Dorset HealthCare team.

Does that make us losers? Hell, no! Because actually the most valuable thing about putting in an award submission is the chance to reflect on and relive the fab work you’ve done. In comms – and certainly in my world – we’re often racing onto the next thing before we’ve even put the last thing to bed. So setting it all out in a award entry gives you the chance to really congratulate yourself and your team – and to learn for the future. What would you do differently? What would make it even better? How did you feel about it all? This is crucial in your journey to be a better comms person. I’m incredibly proud to have been in those shortlists and delighted to have been there to see all the winners enjoying their success. In the end it all paled into insignificance because of what happened at the end…


A group of cunning plotters – including myself, my partner-in-crime Georgia Turner, the excellent Ben Capper, the lovely Louisa Dean and our favourite Comms Unplugged music man Tom Clements, among others – had a take-over planned. Yes, we did an actual take-over of the Unawards to recognise the amazing contribution the wonderful Darren Caveney makes to our industry and, for some of us, to our lives in general. Creator of the epic community that is comms2point0, chief Creative Communicator, Unawards organiser and all-round superstar – this is a man who deserved an award more than anyone else. So we created one for him – the award for Working Hard and Being Nice to People (his mantra, handed down by his dad).

His gobsmacked face when we presented him with a hand-painted certificate, beautiful framed photograph, plush new velvet jacket, engraved glass and of course the inevitable bottle of Mr Malbec was absolutely priceless. And I’m pretty certain he was having an emotional wobble when we played a little clip of our Tom serenading him on film with a Comms Unplugged 2019 anthem.

This meant more than the awards not won. Giving truly is better than receiving. Which leads me on to…


Our take-over was definitely a win. And there were many more wins in the Everyman Cinema – you can see them here:

What I really love about the Unawards is the genuine support in the room for everyone – winners, nominees, colleagues, friends. Darren has the wonderful knack of gathering good people around him who value spending time together.

While the chosen film, Pulp Fiction, was (controversially) not for me, I had a major win by being involved in a fascinating conversation about diversity with three awesome women who shared their experiences and insights with passion and candour – Harriet Small, Katrina Marshall and Shayoni Lynn. Thank you particularly to Harriet for saying that she has always felt completely welcomed and included in the CU community. This is so important to me and my #unplugged team-mates. You three are bad-asses!

Being grateful

Well over a year ago one of our original unpluggers, Josephine Graham, recommended a book called the Gratitude Diaries. Look it up – it’ll give you all the warm and fuzzies and also remind you that being grateful is a thing that changes your life. So after devouring the book on holiday, I keep reminding myself of the power and gratitude. For that reason, in relation to the Unawards, I’m grateful for:

· Darren – the man is life-changing. I’m so proud to call him my friend and teamie.

· Georgia – a whirlwind with as much energy as me who put heart and soul into the award nomination she did for me and the campaign that followed it. I’m so glad to have you in my life.

· The unpluggers – there is no better community of wondrous creatures than you lot. Bringing you together was the best thing we’ve done.

· #teamtakeover – wicked!

· Birmingham – you sparkly, buzzy, funky old thing, you!

· My Dorset HealthCare team – you lot are EPIC! I’m fortunate to be in a position to lead such a fab bunch.

· The comms community – you are talented, resilient, hard-working, creative, supportive, kind and funny. Keep up the good work!

Sally Northeast is assistant director of OD, participation and communications in the NHS and co-creator and partner in Comms Unplugged LLP. You can say hello on Twitter at @Salsazal

Image by Nigel Bishop

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

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