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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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: […]

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.  […]

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 […]

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 […]

Public engagement: crap apps, Lego, conversation and politicians

Public engagement is something all public services do, and many do badly. This is an opinion piece on crap apps, and what makes useful public consultation, along with some genuine questions about the role of the politicians, that you might be able to help me understand. Standard public engagement I’m all for technology and advancing […]

Posting text and video bilingually to Facebook and YouTube

Posting text and video bilingually to social media sites is possible, but not simple! This is a practical post on posting to social media for audiences that speak more than one language. I work with many organisations in Wales that post bilingually, and I thought this may be helpful. It’s just tips from my own trial and […]

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 […]

A comms guide to the ‘sorry not sorry’ statement

Is it ever OK to respond to a breaking story about a mistake your organisation has made – with a joke? A BBC story about Cardiff Council I read this week, demonstrates that sometimes, using humour can be a great way to diffuse tension. Somebody at the council found the Christmas tree they had ordered was […]

Let’s play comms bingo

Do you want to cry when someone asks if they can have an app? Do you shout for mercy when a colleague tells you to make their boring story go viral? Now you can enjoy these excruciating moments, with Comms Facepalm Bingo! Gamify that pain. (If you like my scrawls, I have more of this […]

The most important social media measure? The ‘ex-haters’ number.

I’ve been developing a course on social media evaluation, and one metric stands out to me as most important. I call it the ‘ex-haters story’: the number of people you’ve won-around. In this post I outline: What the ex-hater metric is; Why it’s one of the most important measures; and how to make your ex-hater figures […]

Standing up for the skills of the expert communicator

Have you ever wandered over to your head of finance and told them how they should interpret the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill of 2014-15? No? Funny how comms people often find colleagues from other professional disciplines advise us about comms subjects of which they have little knowledge or experience. Knowing how to tweet does […]

Just how social is your social media?

Most are not serial killers – in fact psychopaths are more likely to find their way into politics, boardrooms or media organisations than be jailed for murder.” Will Black In this post, I want to show how some of the behaviours that have become standard or accepted in the world of social media communications, share qualities […]

My five favourite 2014 tweets with pictures

My top two most read blog posts this year were: number 1: a ‘how to’ flow chart, and number 2. a look at how social media can help public servants be less evil. Both are quite visual: they each include charts that make a point with more impact than lots of words. I had a look back […]

Seven tips for using Facebook if you work in the public sector

Facebook can be a hard place for brands. It’s a lot like a wedding: friends and family gather to have fun, catch up and talk to each other. Brands need to be careful on Facebook that they don’t come across as a salesperson or a work bore at the party. Moreover, as Facebook increasingly favours […]

Council social media: forget about the price tag

A great report from business advisory and accountancy firm BDO, Direct Message, has been released this week, showing results of councils reported use of social media. According to localgov.co.uk: “Two-thirds of councils are now using social media, with 77% saying it can lead to savings if used correctly, according to a new report. …[It] found that responsibility for social […]

Livestreaming council meetings on YouTube

Broadcasting meetings to residents live on the Internet needn’t cost the earth, as Monmouthshire County Council has demonstrated in recent weeks. The council has bypassed expensive monthly fees from livestreaming services by directly streaming meetings, from the council chamber in Usk, to YouTube. Joanna Goodwin, my old mucker from my time at Monmouthshire, works on […]

Public sector comms: how to not be evil

Being obedient does not equal leader or awesome

(Or, ‘How social media helped me get my heart back’) I’m going to keep this quite short considering this is post about obedience, public sector managers, the nature of evil and social media. I’m going to argue how findings of a few psychological studies suggest the modern communications person needs to be more in touch […]

Three ways leaders can get more from social media

If you’re a chief exec or a leader, you’ve probably given Twitter, blogging or even Facebook a go. Maybe you love it. But are you getting the most from it? Sometimes people tell me they’re on social media, they’re starting positive conversations about their work but they’re fed up of the same old topics cropping […]

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 […]

How to respond when rumours start to spread on Facebook

‘Rumour Cascades‘, a  joint study from Stanford University and Facebook, provides some fascinating insights that can serve as advice for public bodies on halting the spread of misinformation. This was first published on the Guardian website in mid May. A new study, jointly conducted by Facebook and Stanford University, has shed new light on how rumours spread on the […]

Five interesting ways councils are using infographics

This article was first published in the Guardian, you can read the original on their website here. We are in an era where we get our news and entertainment in increasingly brief chunks and on smaller, mobile screens. Councils, like other organisations,  are in the race for people’s attention. Whether interactive, beautifully designed or creatively […]

IC Space: three social media ideas for internal communicators

Here’s an article I wrote for the IC Space, sharing three social media tips for internal communicator. You can read the original posting over on the Government Communications Service website. The IC Space is a fantastic place for internal communication professionals across government to learn and network so I was delighted to be asked to […]

Five lessons social media managers can learn from the police

As a bit of a public sector social media obsessive, I’ve picked up lots of examples of police use of social media from twitter and the news. Police forces have done some fascinating work using social media that all PR and social media people can learn from.  So here are five principles we can consider […]

Isn’t it time ALL employees were encouraged to use social media?

I’ve been banging this drum for years now – organisations should be encouraging all employees to use social media. At a conference I spoke at yesterday, two PR legends, Professor Anne Gregory and Jørn Madslien referred in their presentations to the Edelman Trust Barometer and what some of the fascinating insights in the report mean […]

Unrestricted staff access to social media – case studies from a local authority

Free use of social media across a whole company – it’s not a concept everybody agrees is productive. But where I work, it’s helping us to achieve some of our organisational values of openness, fairness, teamwork and flexibility. I speak about this very often with people interested in the approach taken where I work, Monmouthshire […]

A message to the secret council officer

I just came across a great piece in the Guardian from an anonymous council officer who talks about how overly cautious social media policies do more harm than good for local government. Here are extracts but it’s worth reading it in full over at the Guardian website. When it comes to communications, local government knows […]

Seven social media headlines of 2012 and what they teach us

Last week when the awesome Nick Atkin of Halton Housing and I talked to some clued-up housing sector professionals* we looked at social media in 2012 and what’s in store for next year. Here are just some of the social media stories from 2012 we looked at and what they teach us for 2013. 1. […]