It’s almost two weeks since I attended my second and brilliantly organised unconference, CommsCamp13 in Birmingham. Here are ten things I learned and reflected on.
1 The unconference is still a great format. It’s not perfect, some sessions are better than others, some are brilliant and some are a bit like Groundhog Day, but there’s always a dynamic atmosphere. And you always learn something.
2 If you want to get the most benefit from an unconference, listening is often better than talking. Except during the breaks, where you should talk as much as you can between mouthfuls of cake.
3 Many people still feel there is an ‘us’ and ‘them’, with ‘us’ being those who consider themselves the new breed of innovators and ‘them’ being ‘the management’ who are perceived as barriers to things such as the use of social media. I don’t believe this. Every organisation has a number of influential people who will help to take things forward, it’s up to those who see themselves as ‘us’ to find them. So less moaning, and more persuading. After all, persuading and influencing is what most of us are employed to do.
4 There are still a number of angry people who attend unconferences. And I don’t think the anger is doing them any good. They see managers as just one entity, who aren’t to be trusted. It’s time they stopped trying to kick in what they see as locked doors and simply push open the many that are already unlocked.
5 Digital and traditional communications are not mutually exclusive. They are natural bedfellows, we shouldn’t try to split them up, communication is communication. They are just different ways of getting to where we want to go.
6 All communications and engagement should be properly evaluated, but using operational outcomes instead of the fluffy, outdated, and often meaningless methods associated with communications and marketing.
7 No communications team will survive if all its members don’t have digital communications skills. There is no place in communications for those who refuse to or are too slow to learn the world of digital, and self motivation is key. Especially as teams continue to get smaller, which they will.
8 Each communications team will increasingly need a digital specialist, both to lead and inspire their communications colleagues and to drive engagement across the whole organisation. And as teams get smaller, this role must survive.
9 Cake is good. Always.
10 I should attend at least one unconference a year, they always make me think differently. And my colleagues should do too.