Dealing with negative social media comments – dos and don’ts

The subject of dealing with negative social media comments crops up in almost every social media training course I run, so I thought I’d share my simple dos and don’ts to make things easier. So, this is how to handle unfavourable posts people might tweet your organisation, leave on their Facebook page, or any social […]

The comms manifesto

In my opinion, modern and professional communications has nothing to do with spin, lies and propaganda.

This is my idea of what we do.

Is your fear stopping your social media comms from saying anything?

Communicators often confide in me that they don’t really like using Facebook (and other social media) for their organisations because people will probably post snarky things in the comments section of each post. Especially if they’re communicating potentially controversial work. The general gist of what I hear is this: ‘If we talk about this, we’ll have […]

Social media flow chart for comms pros

* 09/01/21 Social media flow chart – updated for 2021! When I first posted this chart 7 years ago (and more than 52,000 downloads ago!), I had no idea how popular it would be. People have sent me tweets showing photos of it pinned on office walls, and still people regularly tell me it’s be […]

The comms approval process

If you’ve been through the comms approval process a few times, you’ll know: the pain is real. Getting through layers of people to edit and sign-off a piece of content – whether it’s a video, a design, a press release or other copy – it can be excruciating. They’ll drain all the life out of […]

The comms unicorn

The comms unicorn exists! This comms unicorn is often the cartoon people remember me for. I drew it because I can’t count the number of times people have said to me ‘do your comms magic on this’, or ‘sprinkle some stardust on that’. Maybe sometimes it can feel like it trivialises our work. Because we […]

Funny tweets from nonprofit brands

People don’t expect funny tweets from nonprofit brands. They think serious, solemn communications is all that’s appropriate when our mission is for social good. But as I wrote a few weeks back, humour should be part of your social media strategy, no mater what you are promoting. Bold, funny content is everywhere! It seems like […]

Building comms confidence

Building comms confidence is as important as developing skills, if you really want to get maximum impact. I can often be found researching and testing ways to build confidence in comms professionals, as part of my work delivering social media training. At a CommsHero event a few years ago, I heard that the brand Innocent […]

Going viral

Going viral – it’s the dream of attention and love for our brand. But we comms pros are not miracle workers. If the content is important to your colleague/boss/client, but utterly irrelevant to the audience, it won’t fly. You can help them solve problems, work on ideas and creative that WILL engage audiences, or even […]

Why humour on social media should be part of your strategy

People tell me that they can’t do humour on social media, or any fun content, because their comms is for an organisation that does important work. “It’s very serious indeed, the tone would be way off if we were to get all jokey” “We can’t be light-hearted when our work helps people going through dark […]

Pets: the secret weapon of housing associations on Facebook

Housing associations on Facebook often have a tough time engaging residents. We work with comms pros who manage Facebook pages that are either: • A negative space where people moan about the organisation’s shortcomings • An absolute ghost town, where you struggle to get a single like or comment off anyone, not even a colleague As […]

How brands can be more authentic on social media

Comms professionals often ask us how to be more authentic on social media. This desire to be more human and less corporate is great, but people often don’t know where to start. Specifically how can you be authentic on social media? I’ll take you through three examples of social media authenticity in action. See if […]

Workshop: Lunchtime Creativity Boost For Comms Pros

LIVE WORKSHOP FOR COMMS PROS: TUESDAY, 1ST JUNE AT 12.30PM Based on the science of creativity, we set you tasks to get you feeling happy, productive and inspired. After the success of our #31DaysOfCreativity challenge, we thought it’s time we run another practical, enjoyable and, most importantly, creativity-boosting event for comms pros. This one is […]

Comms is not common sense

I’ve heard a few people say that communications is common sense. It’s not. #comms is not common sense pic.twitter.com/QRamhaW8ys — Comms Creatives (@commscreatives) February 24, 2021 It could apply to lots of jobs I suppose, but it’s particularly an issue for us, because some of our colleagues think they could do it themselves (or their […]

How to deal with procrastination?

Ever wonder how to deal with procrastination? Me too. Here’s how procrastinating shows up in my work: I get stuff done. But this is the only way I know how. Just me? pic.twitter.com/ZoAsTlbpK4 — Hel Reynolds (@HelReynolds) September 25, 2020 Lots of people have told me they experience this too. I’ve realised a few things […]

Superb storytelling on social media

Storytelling on social media, like the kind we teach on the Social Media Expert Course,is a special secret weapon for the comms pro. Here’s a brilliant example of it in this fab Instagram post from Herts Police. Herts Police actually have amazing Instagram posts all the time. They make use of their police dogs (who obviously get […]

The best church social media content

You can learn a lots from the best church social media, no matter what kind of organisation you work for. I’ve noticed a lot of church-type content in my homefeeds lately, like this sign in a cathedral that got shared all over social media. Social Media Comms Academy member, Matt Batten, runs a vibrant Twitter feed for Llandaff […]

The Weetabix and beans tweet marked an important moment in comms history

I expect you have seen the Weetabix and beans tweet this week, and all the brand reactions to it. And maybe you’ve guessed it: content of the week goes to all the fabulous comms pros from all sorts of brands who got stuck in with a little bit of cheeky humour replying to the Weetabix tweet. […]

Council fun and empathy is content of the week

We admire cool stuff from brands of all sorts. We’ve noticed: local government has been nailing it lately! So content of the week goes to THREE different local authorities doing COVID comms. But it’s not your ordinary safe stuff, this week, we can look at some fun and engaging social media – just because it’s […]

Empathy – the secret ingredient in social media engagement

Empathy is one of the core elements to getting your social media content and tone of voice spot on. First off, knowing who your audience is: (it’s not everyone!) – then getting their attention by demonstrating that you know just how they feel. When you design your ideas, empathy is what separates the boring, corporate […]

Powerful real-life storytelling on Facebook is content of the week

Telford & Wrekin Council is sharing a COVID-19 update. 4d · ‼️ THIS IS REAL ‼️ Below is a story from Sharn who is 34 years old, a fit and healthy mother of two children and lives in Telford. We asked if we could share her story to show everyone that Covid is real, it's here in Telford & Wrekin and could put any one of us in hospital. Cases are still rising rapidly locally and it is now so IMPORTANT we all follow guidelines to keep everyone safe. One mistake could cost someone else's life: 🏠 STAY AT HOME - only leave your house for essential items such as food or medication, work or to help someone vulnerable. ❌ DO NOT MIX HOUSEHOLDS (unless you are part of a support bubble) ❌ DO NOT TRAVEL FOR EXERCISE - You should exercise near to home. Read Sharn's story below 👇 So the first picture here was 26th Dec I felt perfectly well had a lovely day with my daughter. Woke up 27th took tree down then got a head ache that's all!! I went for a test and dropped kids to their dad for them to be safe. I haven't set eyes on my children since! I stayed home alone for 7 days trying to beat it but Covid had other ideas. I was admitted last Sunday and Tuesday I thought I was leaving in a box as I couldn't breathe unattended!! I have never been so scared and alone in my life thinking you are never going to see your children again is torture. Fortunately I'm getting stronger everyday so will be home soon. Sadly not everyone is as fortunate so many bodies leaving this hospital it's awful. The staff are worth their weight in gold true heroes I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them!! I owe them my life!! Things can change so quickly in life appreciate everything. TAKE THIS VIRUS SERIOUSLY GUYS ❤️ Get well soon Sharn ❤️

Storytelling on Facebook is one of the most effective skills you can have in your comms bag of talents. And I’m getting my best Miley Cyrus singing ready to tell you that our content of the week came in like a Wrekin ball….. Well a Telford and Wrekin Council ball, to be exact. I could […]

Manchester Council’s touching Christmas message video

Winner of content of the week is a Christmas message video: What a fun and creative idea to turn the house from Christmas movie, Home Alone, into a fantastic gingerbread construction. And spreading that joy with the Royal Marsden Hospital is just a stylish touch, reflecting our national mood of gratitude for the NHS.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s Burger King spoof is content of the week

This week we’re celebrating a cheeky and fun Facebook post from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR)! If it seems familiar, but you can’t put your finger on it, it’s a parody of the Burger King tweet that went viral a few weeks ago. The Burger King tweet caught people’s attention because it was encouraging their […]

Council’s social media illustration is content of the week

I want to talk about social media illustration and cartoons in your comms. It seems relatively rare! We see so many social media graphics that are kind of like mini-posters. Designed in something like Canva, or as requested of your fab graphic design team if you’re lucky enough to have expert designers on your team. […]

The ‘commsplanation’: duff advice from the non comms colleague

Commsplanation: office scene shows man saying "we should use Snapchat and Yammer for this campaign' and the woman says 'thanks for the advice on my own area of expertise'.

I made up a word: “commsplanation’. Have you ever been commsplained? It’s where someone who is less qualified than you, or less experienced, explains something to you. They get hold of the tiniest amount of knowledge, and suddenly they’re giving you opinions so misinformed, so utterly clueless that you want to boot them up the […]

Cameo celebrities: endorsement not-for-profit brands can afford

Getting a celebrity to promote your brand has long been a desirable but costly way to get your audience’s attention. Some charities could rely on a patron who believed in their cause, but often celebrities have wanted tens of thousands of pounds for an endorsement. But for most not-for-profit brands, it’s been not just out […]

Creative thinking for comms pros: brand metaphors

Creative thinking is not just something we do at work when we’re designing campaigns. We can apply creative thinking to all parts of life and work. I encourage our students in comms teams to spend ten minutes every now and then practicing creative thinking, to make your day-to-day comms a little fresher and more interesting […]

Ten phrases social media managers hate

You might imagine that the phrases social media managers hate to hear would be “we’re out of coffee”, or “there’s nowhere to charge your phone”. But there are phrases that strike even more fear into social media managers. To celebrate National Social Media Managers Day, we’re chuffed to have a guest blog post from an […]

Comms strategy: when dreams don’t match reality

I hope you know that you’re not alone if you find your comms strategy dream does not always match the reality. I drew a doodle to illustrate this.   If you’re a comms pro, social media manager, or marketing person, you might think, ‘How do other people do amazing work so effortlessly?’. The thing is, […]

Creative social media during the coronavirus crisis – 5 tips

This is a practical guide to maintaining creative social media during the coronavirus crisis.  Actually, all of the advice here is relevant at any time, but it’s pretty vital now. There’s loads more I want to tell you, but I’ve brutally edited it down to 5 areas that I think will be most useful for […]

The future of PR & communications: 2020 & beyond

As a creative PR and comms trainer, I’m often asked, ‘What is the future of PR and communications?’ It’s a fun and daunting topic to explore. Will tech advances change the industry completely? Will robots steal our jobs? How can we change to future-proof our careers and our companies? The truth is: I haven’t got […]

How to give your brand an engaging social media tone of voice

Developing an interesting and engaging social media tone of voice is a hot topic for lots of us who look after social media for brands. It’s all very well saying we should be less corporate and more human – but what kind of human do we want to be? Because some humans are awful! Here’s […]

The comms Christmas gift list

If you’re anything like me, you do your shopping at the very last minute.  And maybe you save time by wrapping your gifts in scrunched tinfoil… just me?! Anyway, if you want to get a little something for your comms colleagues, here are are a few ideas. Make creative comms person in your life smile! […]

Take the 31 Days of Creativity Challenge 

Take The 31 Days Of Creativity Challenge Unleash your creative side in under 15 minutes a day Our gift to you: an easy programme with 31 quick tasks that will boost your creativity. A lot of people think creativity is just for people like artists, graphic designers and authors. But creativity is not just for ‘arty’ types. […]

Are you inbox zero or creative hero? My email rebellion

Lately I’m lucky enough to have got some help with responding to email enquiries and such like. What a luxury. When I was an in-house communications professional, I was awful, rubbish, utterly useless at: Getting back to everyone who emailed me Keeping my inbox tidy and filing things away Doing everything that was asked of […]

Do you get the comms butterflies of dread?

Being a creative comms person is not the easy option. You create something a little different that you think is pretty good – but you don’t know how it will be received by your audiences, & colleagues It’s emotional. Nerve-wracking. Ever since I started out as a press officer (ages ago, ‘coz I’m old) & […]

A PR and comms stress epidemic: survey results 2019

I am seriously concerned about the stress faced by the hundreds of comms and PR professionals took part in a survey, and the hundreds of people I train every year. Results of a survey of 442 people working in the industry have revealed this: We are suffering a PR and comms stress epidemic. This Stress […]

Comms and PR stress, and the workload dilemma

Stress is often seen as part of the job of being a communications, PR and marketing professional. But I don’t think the pressure we face is healthy, or even necessary. Sometimes, the people who love their jobs most, are the most stressed out. My focus is on training people to be more creative, fearless and […]

Punctuation: five fun facts

National Punctuation Day

It’s National Punctuation Day! So I thought I’d share five more-interesting-than-it-sounds trivia about punctuation. Because I KNOW you comms creatives have a sneaky obsession with punctuation. 1. Do you correctly use hyphens and dashes? I have discovered the difference between the three dashes: – – — Did you know this? Hyphens join words: eg. they’re […]

Replace your inner critic with an inner fan club

How much do you let your inner critic hold you back? Maybe it’s a comms and marketing thing, but we seem to be quite hard on ourselves. We view our own work and ideas as harshly as would a sworn enemy. We let the occasional mistake or sloppy piece of work linger in our memory, […]

Great comms takes courage

For a few reasons, creative, engaging social media doesn’t just take skills and creativity – it takes guts.

Social Media Marketing Awards: I won!

On Monday, I won Freelance Social Media Marketer Of The Year at the Social Media Marketing Awards! I’m super chuffed, especially since I was up against some incredibly talented social media professionals. ‘But, hang on’, you might be thinking, ‘You’re a social media trainer aren’t you?’. Well, yes. My business is currently a one-woman-band and […]

Social media for a royal wedding – behind the scenes

These days during huge news events, we are all scrolling through social media to find out the latest updates and see photos of what’s going on. As Princess Eugenie’s upcoming wedding is fast-approaching, I think about the local council’s communications team. What a huge job it must be to do social media for a royal wedding, helping: […]

Creating a communications strategy – advice from a comms specialist

The first time I was asked to get creating a communications strategy, I was super intimidated by the task. It seemed so important and I had no idea what to include until I’d spent about four hours Googling the topic! I don’t see much written about the experience of working on a communications strategy, so […]

My advice for a career in communications

I’m sharing some advice for a career in communications as part of the second #CommsCreative challenge: to blog useful tips for other communicators (read more about the challenge here). I’m now old enough to have enough bags of experience to fill all of Louis Vuitton’s shops. I started as a press officer, took on more general […]

The creative communications strategy

We can make a real difference to the impact of our comms by working to a creative communications strategy. The thing about being involved in your organisation’s strategy is, it’s all so serious, and the results can often feel conventional and just STANDARD. But we are creative comms people, and ‘typical’ just won’t cut it.  […]

Communications strategy, snakes and ladders style

Ever have that feeling when you see something so nifty, and simple that you wish you’d thought of it? That was me when I saw this very creative communications strategy template from Sarah Yates, Broxtowe Borough Council’s brilliant Corporate Communications Manager. Very kindly, @haribohats has made this awesome #comms planning guide available to download and print! Brilliant #commscreative […]

Comms Creatives Club newsletter: fancy some inbox inspiration?

Have you signed up to the The Creativity Coffee Break newsletter? Sign up now! Every week, I send an email newsletter with comms stories, ideas and tips. It can be easy to get snowed under with work and get into a a habit of doing things the same way. The Creativity Coffee Break newsletter aims to […]

Ten tips for comms pros from the NHS Communications Conference 2018

It’s amazing how invigorating it can be to get out of the office to learn and network with other communications professionals. Yesterday I loved hosting the NHS Confederation’s Communications Conference 2018, and I’m so grateful to share some excellent insights into comms and life, from a delegate at the event, Katie Stephenson. It was great to meet […]

2018 survey: Comms in the UK housing sector

Busy UK housing communications professionals rarely get time to meet other comms teams to compare teams and work experiences. So in early 2018, I asked PR and comms practitioners in the sector to take a short survey, where they could honestly answer how work is for them right now. Some patterns have emerged, and I […]

What should be in your communications kit?

The modern communicator is asked to turn their hand to lots of techniques, and if you want to be prepared for all sorts – here’s my guide to the 13 things you need with you at all times in your communications kit. To save that TLDR feeling, I just drew them to save you reading […]