A snap round-up of a week in the wonderful comms world.
by Darren Caveney
1. Narrative nourishment
I had to chance to co-run an all new narrative training workshop on Tuesday with the very talented duo of Fran Collingham and Dawn Reeves and the good people at the Local Government Association.
30 councils attended the three-hour slot and we went through everything from: the what and the why of narrative and useful templates to help teams create theirs, through to selling it in internally and embedding and evaluating its success.
Local government does an amazing job 365 days of the year and deserves a little more love than it gets.
That’s why nailing your narrative is so important.
Thanks to everyone who came along. I’m looking forward to seeing the outcomes.
It was interesting to see that most councils attending were in a broadly similar place of not having a recently refreshed narrative for use through autumn/winter 2021/22. That’s not a criticism at all – it’s to be expected, given the past 18 tumultuous months. That’s why we put the session on.
The big take-aways were:
– Always start with the ‘why’ not the what (as identified by Jude Tipper)
– Keep it creative – don’t get bogged down in process, it’s a chance to create something unique to you and compelling for your audiences
– Choose the narrative development template which suits you best
– Remember it’s not just the comms team’s job to create it – pull a team together of the people who can craft and deliver it best
2. The fuel crisis
Do you ever get the feeling that some people never learn?
The fuel crisis this past week seemed like a big bout of history repeating itself, for those old enough to remember previous similar situations.
If so, cast your mind back to September 2000. Almost exactly 21 years ago to the day. Fuel shortages hit Britain. And it resulted in chaos on the roads and motorists queued and queued for days and miles to grab a litre or two.
I remember being in work one day in an office which had a large petrol station next door but one.
I had a call from my old man asking if it was open/had petrol. I stuck my neck out of the office window and relied yes.
An hour later he calls me to say he is stuck in a huge queue for petrol near my office. And would I mind grabbing him a coffee!
Like a mug (no pun intended) I took him one out.
I get in the car for a quick five minute chinwag, and glanced across to his dashboard, surprised to see it showing a half full tank of petrol.
“Are you insane?” I asked. You’re driving all over Birmingham using up petrol to look for some extra petrol.
“Yeah” he replied. Not best pleased with me. The coffee wasn’t great either, apparently.
I said “you’re a plonker”. And that people with half a tank who don’t really need to be anywhere urgently should stop making things worse.
And carried on queueing.
Cue a younger me eye roll.
We have learned pretty much nothing 21 years on.
If anything it has felt much worse, with people panic buying in a way reminiscent of toilet roll-gate of 2020.
Which is unfair too, as emergency planning people the country over will have plans for what to do in a fuel emergency.
Did the messaging help? I’ll let you be the judge.
But the number of times I heard ministers say that “the army were going to be deployed”, “the army were on standby”, “the army were not needed” was incredible. It seemed to go around and around in a confusing loop for days. It wasn’t reassuring or clear.
Pity the poor army if they weren’t receiving better messaging.
3. We need to talk about autumn
I don’t like the autumn. There, I said it.
It’s partly because I love the summer and always mourn its end.
And I quite like the winter. You know it will be cold and a crisp sunny winter’s day is a brilliant day to be alive.
But autumn? You can keep it for me.
It’s the shock of the nights drawing in quickly.
The sudden drop in temperature.
Did you know that 50% of comms people have put their central heating on TODAY.
Autumn to me is wet, windy and snotty. Slippy wet leave all over the place.
‘Yeah but the beautiful colours’, I hear some of you cry. Well if I lived in New England I’m all up for that. But in England I feel like we skip that beautiful stage of nature. We just have dampness.
Well I was going to say I should get our more. But I might slip on some wet leaves! 😆
Stay safe, all x
Darren Caveney is creator and owner of comms2point0 and creative communicators ltd
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Image via the US National Archive