Trust me, I’m a comms professional

I never sleep well in hotels and last night was no exception. Every noise woke me up and then I started worrying that my alarm wouldn’t go off. I was wide awake at 6.58 so sat for 2 minutes just to see if it would. It did and it’ll probably go off at the same time next Friday because now I’m not sure if I’ve cancelled the alarm or not.

I’d arranged to meet Leah in the dining room for breakfast and we got to the table just before 8am. Leah had set up her Dropbox to receive this year’s Better Connected report when it was released so by 8.01 we knew that South Lanarkshire’s website had gained an extra star to become a 4 star site and that it was in the Top 20 of all UK sites. If it hadn’t been so early I’d have had a celebratory drink.

After breakfast we headed for the concert hall for the National Comms Group/LGComms conference. We had to take a detour as there was a fire raging in a top floor flat with a good few fire engines in attendance.


The fire fighters were still there when the conference was over so it must have been a major deal. The resident had tried to put the fire out himself but was overcome by the smoke and is in hospital – I hope he makes a full recovery.

The conference was fantastic but again it was the networking that was my favourite thing. I used to be a bit of a wallflower at events because, whatever anyone thinks, I’m not very confident. I think I’ve come out of my shell mainly because of Twitter. More often than not there are people there that I’ve spoken to online and that’s a great ice-breaker. Now that I’ve been on Twitter for a while my network is quite broad and my real life network is heading the same way.

The dragons’ den section, of which I was a part, seemed to go down quite well and a few people came up to me afterwards to say that they agreed with things I’d said. A few people also said they’d been reading my blog and that’s been a nice surprise.

Aside from catching up with comms colleagues I had a couple of brainwaves which I think may actually come to fruition. The first will be going on the agenda at the next National Comms Group meeting. I’m suggesting setting up a network of mutual aid for social media, the idea being that as long as the official message is shared the social media monitoring and publishing can be done from anywhere – basically if the proverbial hits the fan in an area with a small comms team, they can concentrate on liaising with councillors and management and dealing with the press while other council comms people could be dealing with the  social media from their office.

The second is off the back of the Better Connected report. Everyone knows I have issues with this, even when we do get a good report. My main gripe is that a lot of the reviewers work or have worked in council web teams and so delving into a website with some tasks will hardly be the same for the general public as it is for them. What I am proposing is expanding the user testing that we do for our website. I’d like to develop a robust methodology with templates so that councils could use them and invite their public in as reviewers. We’d hold an event a couple of times a year to share best practice. I discussed this with Val Miller at Fife Council and she thinks we could take the idea even further and work out some proper benchmarking – she’s going to suggest it at Cosla on Monday 🙂

My other news from the conference is that Orkney Council have asked me up to do some social media training and awareness and Shetland Council want to join in the fun – bring it on, I say!

The journey home was uninteresting other than stopping off at Clarks on the way to the station to buy new shoes. There was however this beautiful sky over Bannockburn. This picture isn’t very clear thanks to the reflections on the window but the vapour trails from a couple of planes made a perfect saltire against the blue sky.


Today I have learned:

  • good comms is all about  trust
  • people read this blog
  • people enjoy this blog

Today’s recipe

Whim Whams (Whamlin)

I’m afraid I’m going to have to let you all down tonight because by the time I got home tonight I couldn’t be bothered cooking so I dug out some leftovers from the freezer and had them for dinner. Whim Whams is what my gran from Lancashire called nothing to eat and Whamlin is what my gran from Lanarkshire called it.

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