Reslience isn’t about being strong

Like the proper ambulance-chasing journalist that I used to be, I enjoy watching a natural disaster from afar. I don’t mean I enjoy watching people suffer. Far from it. No, I am fascinated by the rescue, the reporting, the citizen journalism and the things people do to survive. I like a good recovery.

I have watched social media platforms like Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp flourish as tools for good in floods, earthquakes and wildfires. I wrote a Masters dissertation on the subject and made a career out of being a so-called ‘expert’ on social media use during emergencies.

Before COVID many people didn’t know that councils are often involved in emergency response, alongside blue light colleagues in police, fire and health. This has been the longest emergency scenario I have worked through and it has seen the biggest prolonged upheaval in my working life. The destruction may not have been on the scale of a tsunami or an earthquake but we’ve had to adapt pretty quickly to a new way of living and working.

I was full of optimism. For me working from home, no commuting, new technology and online events were all embraced wholeheartedly. We even got a long awaited COVID puppy.

Our COVID puppy, Lula

My council’s recovery plan is looking at what went well during COVID, what changes made to services under lockdown can be kept, what can go and for once we are involving our citizens in the decision-making.

I was over the moon when blended learning was discussed for the schools going back after summer. My son has severe dyslexia and he prefers working at his own pace, online, sometimes in the wee small hours. I thought we’d get a shiny new 21st century model for learning so I was disappointed when it was back to business as usual in our schools. Personally I think we’re overdue educational reform – the school day, the school year and the method of delivery, but that’s a whole other blog post.

So as the country heads for local lockdowns, masks in schools and overly complicated rules that can’t be policed, I hear a lot about how well Australia and New Zealand coped with COVID and how good their political leadership is. I had two conversations in as many days about the same things and it got me wondering New Zealand and Australia have been beacons of common sense through all of this.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s down to lots of things. But I reckon the fact that they are developed countries that have more than their fair share of large-scale natural disasters has something to do with it.

In the UK we’ve had the odd earthquake and some localised but devastating flooding. We haven’t had anything on a scale that has made other countries set up relief funds or send over emergency responders in vast numbers.

In Australia the flooding and wildfires have been catastrophic while New Zealand has had earthquakes on a biblical scale.

When Christchurch had their last epic earthquake in 2011 there wasn’t much about life that was untouched. People were displaced, schools, universities, shopping centres were all flattened, damaged or evacuated because of the noxious fumes coming up from under the ground. If life was going to continue they were going to have to come up with novel ideas.

Shops who hadn’t previously, started trading online. Planners rethought how they would develop trading areas – if your financial institutions are all in the same district then trading grinds to a halt if the whole district disappears in the rubble.

Shipping containers were used for shops and housing. Schools and universities set up virtual campuses. Insurance companies were brought to heel when it was discovered neighbours in the same street were being treated differently.

Photo by Marcus Lenk on Unsplash

The city’s Recovery Plan is a great read. It was developed with the city’s communities and was never about getting back to normal – it was about getting making things better than they’d been before but at the same time remembering the past and ‘interpreting’ what had happened to the city and its inhabitants. What’s more, they are still in their recovery phase – the plan covers up to 2032.

I’d say Christchurch, New Zealand and its inhabitants are resilient, not by being strong like a British bulldog with its feet firmly stuck in its imperial past greatness but by being flexible, willing to change and by thinking of the future as an almost clean slate.

If Mother Nature can change your world in the blink of an eye you get really good at starting again but ignoring the stuff that previously wasn’t working.

Which is why I can’t understand why our schools are doing their best to get back to the old normal. Or why people complain about local lockdowns. Or why this government harks back to a golden age of imperialism that didn’t really exist for the common man or woman. Or why we’re hellbent on leaving the EU because we think we’re better on our own.

To quote two ancient Chinese philosophers, Confucius and Lao Tzu:

“As the water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it, so a wise man adapts himself to circumstances.”

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

60% of the adult human body is made of water so we’re more than half way to being a stream anyway. Why not be a flexible force for good rather than the ancient oak that blows over in the wind.

Photo by Mark Basarab on Unsplash

Movies aren’t just for the silver screen

A few months ago I attended a training day with BBC Scotland and sportscotland about using shortform film to tell stories. Whenever I am in meetings and refer to it people ask if I have anything I can share. Well, I have six pages of scribbled notes so I decided I should try to get it down in a blog.

Shortform is generally anything up to 90 seconds and used most effectively on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Some simple rules before we get down to business:

  • avoid talking heads
  • it should be able to be understood without sound
  • use text overlays but keep each screen short and snappy
  • if you are using text, use Plain English

One of the easiest ways to schedule film work (and any other social media for that matter) is to look for ‘tent pole moments’. These are the dates in a calendar when people are likely to be looking for online content. Examples include Blue Monday, the Queen’s birthday, Wimbledon. These moments aren’t necessarily big events but occasions that may spark conversations which end in people looking up Google. Can you create content that will tie in and maybe even appear in those Google search results underneath the ubiquitous Wikipedia entry.

You then need to CODE your content:

  • Content – what is the objective?
  • Optimise – make it the best and most sharable it can be
  • Distribute – use the right channels
  • Evaluate – did it achieve its objectives?

Shortform rules:

  • Jump straight in – get to the point within 3 seconds. That means no messing about with logos or scene setting. People scroll quickly on their phones and their eye is subconsciously scanning for what’s coming next. If you haven’t got to the point by the time they have moved your film to the centre of their screen, chances are you’ve lost them and they’ll scroll straight past.
  • Any movement in the first 3 seconds should be towards the camera.
  • Tell audiences how to feel straight off the bat. Go straight for the emotion you need.
  • You don’t need the traditional crescendo at the end – the payoff should be 2/3rds of the way through because after this point people are beginning to think about what to watch next.

Shortform tools:

  • 1 Second Everyday – tell a story in a second or join them together for a longer story. Great for travel journals or ‘lifetime’ stories.
  • Boomerang – the Instagram child of a photo and a gif
  • YouTube cards – these let you collect live feedback while your film is playing
  • YouTube Creator Academy – tutorials by YouTubers for YouTubers
  • Google Trends – helps you identify topics for evergreen content
  • Giphy – a place to create and share gifs. A great example is the #blacklivesmatter gif – simple but effective. It makes your news feed look busy


This photograph is from the Australian War Memorial’s collection

Making content sharable

In a similar way that movies have just 7 storylines there are 7 qualities that will make people want to share your content.

It needs to:

  • be amusing
  • be inspiring
  • be illuminating
  • be shocking
  • make people fearful
  • make people angry
  • be controversial

There are also 5 rules to follow.

  1. Appeal to the audience’s key motivation – the need to connect to each other
  2. Keep your message simple
  3. Appeal to the positive emotions above
  4. Embed a sense of urgency- Snapchat is perfect for this as it is built in
  5. Spend time listening to a community then establish credibility. If you can add value to a conversation you will gain credibility

Tools to make sharable content

  • Combine apps – use a Boomerang within an album. this will create movement within the album and draw the user’s eye, making them more likely to stop and take a look
  • Facebook Canvas – Canvas uses a combination of video, photos and call to action buttons

Distributing content

  • What are people actually searching for? Capture users’ intent by playing with the predictive search box in social media platforms such as YouTube then create and tag content that fits.
  • Create recurring episodes to keep viewers coming back.
  • Schedule around tent pole events
  • Release content at the right time of day to suit the target audience. Many organisations have found that weekend posts perform better than office hours posts.
  • Get content embedded in 3rd party sites looking for stories. CBeebies got a better reaction from film embedded on NetMums than they did on the CBeebies site.
  • Try newsjacking where appropriate. This is the art of inserting yourself into a news story.  However this can be risky but if you’re willing to try you should: 1. have a process with sign off in place because you have to move fast. 2. monitor the news using tools such as Google Trends. 3. Create your response. 4. Promote it across appropriate channels.
  • Breathe new life into old content.

Digital storytelling
It’s not just about movies though, it’s about great content combos like words and photos or film with text overlays.

Great examples
Humans of New York
Body on the Moor which is built on the Shorthand storytelling platform

Digital storytelling tools
FiLMiC Pro – turns your mobile camera into a broadcast quality high-definition video camera
Lanparte gimbals – turn your phone into a steady cam
Smartlav+ microphones – broadcast quality wearable mics for mobile phones
Quik – free editing app that uses content from your phone’s gallery, albums, Google photos, Facebook, or GoPro Plus footage
BBC Taster – a place to try, share and rate new ideas

Culture is king (or queen)

It would be unfair to share my latest homework for Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop on Udemy. Instead I’ll share my notes from his lecture.

The culture of the organisation you build changes everything.

Culture defeats strategy.

Culture defeats tactics.

Culture is at the heart of whether you are going to get to where you want to or not.

Too many leaders fall into a trap – they become so focused on survival, on getting the job done and moving forward that they sacrifice culture.

We get the culture we deserve.

What corners are you happy to cut? What kind of culture do you want?

Establishing the culture should drive everything that you do going forward.

Don’t do things in the way they have always been done.

Do them in the way that will get you where you want to go.


Follow the leader

I’ve started another course – Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop on Udemy.

I’ve been a fan of Seth’s for years now. I have devoured his books, subscribed to his newsletter and been disappointed that I couldn’t jet to New York for his regular workshops. Needless to say I jumped at the chance of this online course.

Even the first three minute lecture had some gems:

  • Leadership is not management
  • Management is getting people to do what they did yesterday cheaper and faster today
  • Management is the practice of compliance
  • Leadership is about change and enrolling others to help make it happen
My first exercise is to reflect on a few things and share it somewhere that others doing the course will be able to see.
So here goes.
Outline a moment when someone you respect engaged in leadership
I wish I had been there to witness this as it happened but I was on a flight heading out on my honeymoon. I heard all about it on my return.
In the early hours of the Sunday morning after my wedding, while we were still partying, Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris. I was in Turkey for two weeks and missed the funeral and the mass outpouring of grief.
I worked as a journalist on Scotland’s biggest selling Sunday newspaper (at the time) and when went back to work I was full of curiosity as to how Diana’s death had been dealt with by the paper and its sister magazine. The then editor of the magazine was my line manager and a huge Diana fan. She had been in that post since the magazine’s inception and often had run-ins with the male dominated staff of the newspaper. She approached the paper to help with the extensive coverage she expected they would be doing only to discover that the editor of the paper wasn’t considering doing anything other than a straight news piece. Lengthy arguments then ensued with the editor of the paper claiming that  no one was that interested in Diana now she wasn’t strictly royalty and my boss claiming that he was completely missing the public sentiment and that the paper’s readers would be disappointed. She reckoned they’d go out and buy The Sunday Mail instead. When he still wasn’t for backing down she threatened to resign but was talked out of that by her staff. Instead she devoted the magazine to Diana with the full backing of my colleagues produced a special edition which won the praise of our readers and proved to the editor that we understood his readers better than he did.
Describe a time when you chose to lead
I suppose I have been a leader when it comes to using social media in an emergency but this has happened outwith the organisation I now work for and has been more at a national level.
My masters dissertation was on this subject and as a result I was asked to join a Scottish Government advisory group and I have spoken at many events and delivered training on the subject. I enjoy training sessions when you see people have that eureka moment and you know you’ve won over a few more hearts and minds to the cause.
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However internally this tends to be overlooked and I have observed that in hierarchical organisations like mine it often takes a consultant to persuade management about something their own staff have been saying for a while.
Do you agree leadership is a choice?
Yes. You can’t force someone to lead. Well, you can try but they’ll make a terrible job of it, certainly at the start. However, I have often seen people lead without realising it. I think that if you have the beginnings of a plan you need to test it to see if there will be any buy-in before you dive in head first. At those early stages a person can be leading without any consciousness that what they are doing is gaining momentum. Maybe the person has been the lynchpin in a project or a team and then transitions subconsciously into a leadership role once they’ve found their own groove. I think that’s what happened to me with social media – I was in the right place and the right time, reading the right stuff and networking with the right people.
What is the change you are trying to make
I want the organisation to put the customer at the centre of everything it does. We are in the middle of a massive transformation programme and I worry that, rather than customer centric service design, we are building services to suit the organisation. My team is fully on board with UX but in a big, hierarchical organisation it can be difficult to make your ideas heard when you are a small cog in a big wheel.
This first exercise in the course has been a difficult exercise for three reasons:
  • landing anyone in it for describing them as a leader
  • landing myself in it for not describing someone else as a leader
  • not sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet for describing anything I have done as leadership
This last point needs to be addressed, particularly for Scottish women. We need to stand up and be seen and heard as the leaders we are so that we can encourage the younger women coming up behind us that they have as much right to to lead and take credit for leading as the men in suits who often have louder voices but not much to say.
*stands down from soapbox

Intranets are hard work

When Wedge asked me to do a lightning talk at Intranet Now about user experience testing on a budget I jumped at the chance.

We’d just inherited our intranet from IT and an upgrade to the platform, a new task-based approach and a new design all made the task a bit daunting. I could soak up as much learning as I could then apply it back at base.

Luckily I was on pretty early in the programme so I could concentrate after I’d done my talk and scribble copious notes which I will now share. There were common threads:

  • intranets available to all staff on all devices, at work, at home and on the move
  • intranets as digital workplaces
  • the importance of UX

James Robertson of Step Two Designs (Australia) – How to make the most of the emerging digital workplace

Technology should allow your intranet to be delivered to staff not on the network.

Business solutions should integrate with the intranet to create an efficient workforce.

The intranet is not a thing – it’s a family/collection of interconnected digital tools.

Design should add value and should be task driven.

Intranet teams should be experts on :

  • change management and adoption
  • how the business ticks and what the pain points are
  • usability, UX and web design

Paul Zimmerman of InvotraIntranet of Things – innovation in the workplace

Just like the Internet of Things collects data for improvement and innovation, so should the intranet collect data to optimise workplace processes.

The Intranet should be a connector of people, content and things. Rooms, desks, fire extinguishers, printers – all are trackable and provide info on their status. Could the intranet be used as part of their management process?

We live in an attention economy where internal comms needs to compete for employee attention.

Kevin Cody of SmallWorlders – Bridging the intranet adoption chasm

There are the three levels of engagement:

  • laggards – need a reason to log on
  • majority – need a reason to return i.e. the tools to help them work efficiently
  • early adopters – need a reason to lead e.g. social features, self-service, collaboration, user blogs

Create credible KPIs to measure engagement.

Intranets need to provide the basics for maximum engagement.

For more information and loads of great whitepapers see

Kristian Norling of Intranätverk – Tips for intranet search

Search is not a project – it’s a lifelong commitment. That’s why it’s called WORK.

You should delete as often as you contribute. Have Delete and Donut Fridays. (I quite fancy Corrs and Cake Tuesdays.)

Watch out for information ROT – Redundant, Outdated and Trivial.

Dates are the most important part of metadata. Based on the date you should delete, archive or keep.

Susan Quain of Care UK – Bringing your organisation with you

As the project changes around you keep the scope clear and continuously revise the comms plan. Tell them what you are going to do. Tell them you are doing it. Tell them you have done it.

Make sure you have some quick wins to gain employee confidence.

Don’t call it a project – call it an initiative.

Lisa's notes

These are @lisariemers rather nifty notes from my presentation

So the rest of my notes didn’t make much sense but here are the soundbites:

  • staff have the right to see organisational news first on the intranet before it hits the papers
  • compliance with business processes is directly related to how far away the employee is to HQ
  • profiles + tagging = tailored content + learning
  • can your intranet be trusted – people only trust things that work so do the basics well
  • is your staff directory up-to-date? Every now and again force staff to update their details before they can use the search
  • the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory – normal person + anonymity + audience = idiot
  • tone does not travel well online. Keep an eye on debates and step in if needed but as a mediator understand all perspectives
  • just making your intranet look good doesn’t mean people will use it
  • turn off the magazine and newsletter and give your intranet a chance. Switch off the offline and the old way of doing things
  • replicate the way people interact with technology outside of work
  • is it time to drop the term intranet? What we really mean is a digital workplace – a digital space that enables employees to work more effectively and efficiently

And there you have it. A full-on day of intranet learning. A huge thanks go to Wedge and Brian for organising such a great event and for recognising that it is needed. Also a massive cheer to the great speakers who passed on their wisdom and to the audience for their feedback and support.

The full line-up and slides are on the Intranet Now website.

Are you sure your intranet is doing its job?

Other people get excited about going to a Take That concert or meeting a celebrity chef. Me, I prefer web superstars, so when I heard Gerry McGovern was running a How to Simplify your Intranet workshop in London, the fangirl in me went into overdrive.

I have read his books, joined his webinars and applied his top task theory to our organisation’s website but the intranet was a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Following a service review, our team has just inherited the intranet from another department. So the timing of Gerry’s workshop was perfect for us – new team, new version of the content management system (CMS), new version of the intranet.

To kick off the workshop we went round the room and three main themes emerged:

  • how to make a self-service intranet
  • the competing needs of users, content creators and HR
  • how to stop the intranet being the place where PDFs go to die

One delegate summed up his desire eloquently: 

“I want the intranet to delight employees. They shouldn’t just tolerate it and it definitely shouldn’t disappoint.”

Gerry then asked us what one thing each of us would change tomorrow if we could and this again produced themes:

  • introduce a top task approach
  • make the intranet a place to collaborate
  • make things easier to find
  • make it accessible outside the network to allow remote working
  • tighten up the governance

Then Gerry got down to business and believe me, his passion takes no prisoners.

“Your intranet should be the antidote to a bad week,” was one of his first comments. “It should be there to make your job easier. It’s not just there for adjusting flexi or booking holidays – it should help you with your day-to-day tasks and free up your time.”

And we were off.

Most of this is soundbites from my notes but I’ll try my best to make it flow.

Why base your intranet on top tasks?

The first step to a great intranet is identifying the organisation’s top tasks, the important, most used ones. It also helps to know what the tiny tasks are too because this is where the ego of the organisation lies – the stuff managers want on but which don’t add value or simply aren’t used.

Tiny tasks go to bed at night and dream of being top tasks but they generally never do grow to be top tasks.

The metrics you use on your intranet will tell you some of this stuff but cold hard stats don’t give you context. Don’t rely on Google Analytics alone – you need to look at actual human behaviour.

Before you start on the quest to find your top tasks, identify the influencers in senior management and get their buy-in. You need their protection because you are the enemy of the tiny tasks and therefore the enemy of the egos of those who don’t get what you’re trying to do.

In the short-term, ditching tiny tasks will not win you friends.

Gerry described how the CEO of Aer Lingus booked flights on competitors’ websites during senior management meetings to show how it should be done – this is the kind of buy-in you need.

Stop creating content

Humans like to create things but hate to finish and maintain. They also hate to delete. This is why we have bloated websites and intranets.

Stop building and start managing – iterate, iterate, iterate.

People are rewarded for creating but tell someone you deleted 50 documents and they raise their hands in horror – this needs to change. Deleting the stuff getting in the way of doing the top tasks is one of the most productive things you will ever do.

If deleting is too scary, archive instead but you need a document retention plan.

Archive nothing you will kill your intranet. Archive everything and you will kill your archive.

Your archive is a fox and your intranet is a chicken – keep them together and all you have is a fox.

Measuring success

Tasks need to be measurable and you need to be able to set targets but whatever you do, don’t measure page hits – hits stands for How Idiots Track Success!

Don’t measure volume – measure use. Test your intranet and base decisions on evidence.

Test, test and test again

Test, test and test again

If there’s one thing that will get managers on your side it’s saving money or making efficiencies, and the savings we’re all aiming for on our organisations’ websites can be made on our intranets.

Focus on what people do

eureka momentManage the task, not the channel. Don’t manage the intranet or the content – manage the thing people are trying to do and if it means getting involved in changing the process in the back office, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.

Always focus on the task. Bring the tools, policy, FAQ, news etc to the task – if they are standalone they are just noise.

Self-service is the buzzword of the moment for intranets but most content isn’t fit-for-purpose or even understandable without an expert to interpret it.


Sources of your task longlist


Creating a task longlist

Once you have your longlist get people to quickly choose their top five tasks

Once you have your longlist get people to quickly choose their top five tasks

If it doesn’t help complete a task get rid of it. Policies are all well and good but people don’t look for a policy document – they just want to complete the task they came on to do.

If you need it to complete the task but people drop out, it needs rewriting.

Top task life cycle – identify task, measure the baseline (it will be horrible), make the changes, measure again, repeat indefinitely.


Navigation is the most important part of a top task website. Make labels clear and avoid creating ‘dirty magnets’ – terms that attract users for vague reasons e.g. FAQs or Knowledge Base. eureka 2

Put things where people expect them to be. Documents may be produced by your legal department but don’t put them there if people naturally gravitate towards marketing for them.

Don’t use labels like ‘Useful links’ – what’s the alternative, ‘Useless links’? Start at your top level then work your way down, aiming for a 90% first click success rate.

Employees will trust an intranet that helps them do their job, not one that is used as a propaganda tool.

Research around the world shows that two thirds of employees feel overwhelmed – this is your business case for an intranet overhaul.

We wouldn’t accept broken chairs or desks in the office, but we accept a broken digital workplace. Imagine if content that went past its sell-by date started to smell. We wouldn’t tolerate it and we wouldn’t have the bloated intranets most of us have to put up with.

The difference between the web and the intranet is that on the web people spend a lot of time and money making sure their content can be found. On an intranet being found means having to do some work!

Gerry’s international research boils intranets down to five main navigation categories:

      • About me
      • Find people & collaboration
      • News/current affairs
      • About the company
      • Core – the essence of what your organisation delivers

Focus on the core.

Working out the navigation

Working out the navigation

The future

Socitm are considering getting involved in intranets in a similar way to the Better Connected review they do of council websites each year. They attended Gerry’s workshop and we discussed creating a space to compare top tasks and best practice because, let’s face it, internal tasks are going to be pretty similar across the board. Watch this space for more details.

You can have a look at #intranetnow on Twitter where you will find notes and Periscope films from the organiser @Wedge .

This post was first published on All Things IC blog 14 May 2015. Thanks go to Rachel for the opportunity to share.

You can’t be 21 – again!

I’ve made a couple of observations over the last few months. I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

If you ever do age-specific Facebook marketing or advertising err a good few years either way, if you can. There’s a whole generation on there and there will be for ever more who lied about being 13 just to have an account.

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Have you noticed a spike in the visitors to your website last month and this? I’m putting it down to people researching their summer holidays and clearing their history and cookies to try to get round the underhand price-fixing the airline companies use. If you don’t know what I’m on about basically the sites remember who you are so if you go back to look at the same flight the price will miraculously have gone up and there will only be a few seats left at that price. Clear your history and cookies and you’re regarded as a new customer on all the sites you visit.

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I’ve just started a PgCert in Making Use of Digital Research at Edinburgh University and so far, apart from technical teething troubles the course has been fascinating. I’ll share some of it here over the next few months.

A tune from me to you

The Jaynetts – Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar

I think your ears are bleeding

So my last blog caused a bit of a stir. Most people felt my pain. Others thought it was the braggers who had the problem.

One person took things into their own hands and nominated me for a Comms2point0 UnAward.

David Grindlay from Falkirk Council has been a partner in social media crime for a few years now. We met on Twitter, then at social media events, then at regular meetings. Now he’s a firm friend of the whole family. I’m sure our paths would have crossed eventually but social media sped things up. He phones me every now and again to ask a question, usually about social media, sometimes about emergency comms, occasionally about behaviour change. I always come off the phone feeling sorry for him because once I start talking I rarely come up for air. I always imagine him putting the phone down, ears bleeding and gently banging his head off his desk.
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But I guess his ears must be OK and he must value my input or he wouldn’t have taken the time to write such a glowing nomination. I was overwhelmed, happy that someone I respect thought so highly of me. But at the same time the Calvinist in me was on the verge of breaking out in hives.

There were 202 nominations for the UnAwards and a panel of judges did the shortlisting, although Dan and Darren couldn’t shortlist the Best Comms Officer category. I don’t know who was responsible for picking me but I’d like to thank them because being shortlisted for a Comms2point0 award, un or otherwise, means more to me than anything from the CIPR or any other official body.

I love Dan and Darren and have learned so much from them over the years that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their help and influence.

I met them on Twitter, then in person. I have worked for the day with them when they were at Walsall Council. I have been in the audience at events where they have presented or run workshops. I have eaten curries with them and drunk pints. On Monday I co-presented with Dan at a social media training day and that was just the icing on the cake – sharing knowledge with comms colleagues and sharing a stage with one of my social media rock stars. In fact, I was also sharing a stage with another social media rock star, Leah Lockhart, another person I met on Twitter but now count as an actual, real life friend.

And that’s the great thing about comms people on social media – we really bring the social part to the table. Twitter breaks the ice at events – suddenly people you’ve been talking to for months in bursts of 140 characters are right there in front of you and the niceties have already been done.

I have regular get-togethers at the house and have invited Twitter acquaintances whom I now count as friends.

I have never been more social in my life.

I used to be the painfully shy kid, who’d go red if the teacher asked me a question in class.

I’d go to parties and stick with the friends I went with.

I could never pluck up the courage to speak to a stranger – I mean, what on earth would I say.
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