MEDIA TODAY: ‘We are not in a 24/7 news cycle. We are in a 360-degree, 3D news cycle.’

20564510232_d7215a736d_b“I love newspapers,” legendary Sunday Times editor Harold Evans once said, “But I’m intoxicated by the power and possibility of the internet.”

I get that.

It’s hard not to be a participant or a watcher in the media landscape in 2016 without being fascinated at how fast it evolves.

There was an excellent interview by Alex Spence on political website politico with the outgoing director of communications at the Prime Minister’s Office. Craig Oliver spent six years in the post. Leave politics aside, he has some really useful observations. You can read full post here. Here are a few highlights:

On the changing political media: “The reality is that we are not in a 24/7 news cycle. We are in a 360-degree, 3D news cycle, when news is coming at you all the time, constantly, and the next headline is not the top of the next hour on a 24-hour news station, but in the time it takes for somebody to type out a tweet.”

On which media — TV, radio, newspapers, digital, social — now has most influence on political news: “You’re saying, ‘Is the TV news the most important thing?’, and actually that feels slightly dated as a question. Yes it’s massively important but I still think, what are we saying to the newspapers, what are we saying to the broadcasters, what are we saying to social media, I treat each of those quite equally. They all bleed into each other. Increasingly you have news organisations that do websites, podcasts, vodcasts, you know, essentially mini-TV programs, little videos, little audio bites, it’s all merging together. It’s how are you impacting traditional newspapers, how are you impacting the traditional broadcasters, how are you having an effect on social media and that kind of digital world. It is starting to mesh and move but you still do have to think in each of those three ways about each story.”

On the enduring influence of the newspapers: “Anybody who did this job who didn’t think that newspapers had a very powerful influence on the political debate in this country would not be understanding the situation properly.”

These are points that any comms, PR or social media person needs to understand. It echoes something I’ve been saying for a while. Know your landscape. Know your stats. Don’t be a channel fascist and close things out entirely. Use the best channel. Not the sexiest.

Picture credit: Hakan Dahlstrom / Flickr

 


SCILLY SEASON: Why we’ll miss Sgt Taylor on the Isles of Scilly Facebook page

Ladies and gentlemen, a period of mourning, please. The internet is over. Switch it off. There’s no more to see.

What has happened? Sgt Colin Taylor has left the Isles of Scilly Police Facebook page.

He has returned to the mainland with his family.

The page, I’m sure will go on, but the man who helped make the page the best public sector social media page has moved on.

If you’ve not come across the page you can find it here.

It is the police Facebook page for the Scilly Islands which can be found off the southern tip of Cornwall.

It’s page describes it thus:

“Like Heartbeat but less frenetic. Policing is like this everywhere but not everywhere is Scilly.”

In numbers, there are less than 3,000 people living on the islands and yet the page drew an audience of more than 50,000. It succeeded quite simply because it was human. Wryly witty and always professional it was clear there was a human behind it. This was why it succeeded.

I have two hopes. Firstly, that whoever takes it on continues in the same spirit but isn’t overawed. And secondly, that Sgt Taylor continues to use social media for his next role in the police. He is worth 500 community police officers.

If you’ve not come across him, he’s also on Twitter here.

This nisn’t messing about on the internet. This is being human and educational so when support is needed, as Sgt Taylor, has said, he could police the island with 50,000 helpers.

Five examples of Isles of Scilly Police public sector social media brilliance

The one when they crowd-sourced the Running Man video

People will look back at 2016 and wonder where there were so many meme videos of police dancing to an obscure dance track.

What started as a joke by one police force spread around the world and when New Zealand bobbies nominated Scilly Police the team there is an example of perfect community engagement crowdsourced support. You can see the video on Facebook here.

scilly7

The one with the ball bearing gun

Did you know the law about guns? I didn’t until I read an account of a conversation with a visitor to the island.

scilly4

The one with the lost property

Ever wondered what happens when cuddly toys go missing? They put out witness appeals.

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The one with the picture of the harbour

Some places are jst lovely to look at and the Scilly Isles are one of them. So, an operation to fight crime in the harbour has to have an image of the place, doesn’t it?

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The one where Welsh football fans are reminded where to tinkle

Everyone loves a happy football supporter. But the problem of tinkling revellers is an issue to tackle on Facebook with a gentle reminder.

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There is a debate that runs that public sector people shouldn’t put themselves into social media. This is cobblers. Of course they should. Being human is one of the traits that public sector people need.

There’s a downside when they move on, sure. Morgan Bowers’ much-missed @walsallwildlife Twitter went from the web when she left Walsall Council. But the fact that there is a hole when people move on shows just what a good job they do. Online and offline.

 


STATS 2016: A pile of things every comms person needs to know from the Ofcom communications market report

Here’s a thing. Everybody apart from maybe your Gran should know what’s in the Ofcom Communications Market Report.

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Everybody who is interested in communicating as part of their jobs should know it.

Press officers, comms people, social media mavens, marketing people and internal comms too. You all should know it.

Why? Because quite simply, this is a report filled with data that you can hang your hat on and use as a reference point for what you do. Cricket has Wisden. Comms people have the Communications Market Report. It’s that good.

If you are a communicator in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland there’s also a national breakdown of your nation’s media use too. How useful is that?

So, here is a quick summary so you all go off and read all of its 266 glorious pages.

Internet connectivity

4G now reaches 97.8 per cent of the population.

86 per cent of homes have an internet connection.

66 per cent of people use their mobile phone to access the internet.

41 per cent think they spend too much time on the internet.

11 per cent check the internet 50 times a day or more.

15 per cent say they are ‘hooked’ on theiir favouriote device.

34 per cent say they have difficulty disconnecting from the internet.

51 per cent go to bed with their mobile phone within reach.

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Smartphone Britain

71 per cent of adults have a smartphone.

Over two hours a day on average is spent using smartphones.

59 per cent of households have a tablet.

 

Video

26 per cent use video on demand sites like Netflix.

91 per cent watch live TV.

25 per cent watch online video clips

 

Email

70 per cent use email.

 

Instant messaging is rising

43 per cent use instant messaging apps like WhatsApp

63 per cent send SMS texts.

21 per cent use photo messaging

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The Digital Day

An adult will consume the media for eight hours 45 minutes a day – 27 minutes more than sleeping.

An adult will be second screening for two hours and seven minutes a day to consume extra media.

SMS text messaging and email are dropping.

Instant messaging is increasing.

The Digital Day: Activity and time spent

Live TV 2 hours 55 minutes Live TV

Live Radio 1 hour 54 minutes

Recorded TV 1 hour 12 minutes

Video games 1 hour 9 minutes

Paid on demand video 1 hour 2 minutes

Email 1 hour

Other websites or applications 55 minutes

Instant messaging 48 minutes

Social networking 45 minutes

Streamed music 44 minutes

Books (print and digital ) 44 minutes

Personal digital audio 39 minutes

DVD and Bluray 37 minutes

Newspapers print and web 31 minutes

Short online video 29 minutes

Phone calls 27 minutes

CD and vinyl 26 minutes

Sports news and updates 25 minutes

On demand radio 24 minutes

Texting 21 minutes

Video calls 16 minutes

Other online news 14 minutes

Magazines print or digital 13 minutes

Online shopping 12 minutes

Photo or video messaging 9 minutes

Other activities 1 hour 16 minutes

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How much media we consume

 

People consume eight hours and 45 minutes media a day.

The majority of those under 65 use social media at least weekly.

50 per cent of time on social media is spent on a phone.

Those aged four and above watch three hours and 36 minutes watching TV.

Those who listen to the radio listen to three hours and three minutes a day.

19 per cent of media is consumed while multi-tasking.

40 per cent fceel ignored at least once a week by someone engrossed in a smartphone.

34 per cent say they had taken a digital detox.

16 per cent choose a holiday dfestination that  has no internet.

 

Popular social media and instant messaging sites

 

In 2016 64 per cent of adults use social media

The popular sites by users

38.9 million Facebook

22.5 million Facebook Messenger

21. 8 million LinkedIn

20.9 million Twitter

16.7 million whatsapp

16.5 million Instagram

12.8 Google +

11.5 million Pinterest

7.1 million Snapchat

 

Teenagers

15 per cent said that they were most likely to keep in touch with friends through social media.

69 per cent said that if they could not access the internet their life would be boring.

49 per cent said that they have communicated with someone who was in the same room by using the internet.

60 per cent think its unacceptable to communicate using the internet with someone who is in the same lesson.

61 per cent have had a device taken off them as a punishment.

 

16 to 24 year-olds

99 per cent use social media weekly spending 2 hours 26 minutes.

They spend more of their time communicating (32 per cent) than watching 29 petr cent.

Instant messaging is more important than any other means of communication.

Playing video games is as important as watching live TV.

The smartphone is used five hours a day.

87 per cent said they kept up to date with current affairs or social issues

Watch 55 minutes less TV a week than they did since 2014.

Watch 43 minutes more on demand TV than they did in 2014.

25 per cent say they feel nervous or anxious without the internet.

60 per cent say they spend too much time online.

72 per cent say that they missed out on sleep to use the internet.

 

25 – 35-year-olds

84 per cent use social media spen ding 1 hour 1 minute

Watching live TV has dropped by 37 minutes.

 

35 – 44-year-olds

77 per cent use social media spending 1 hour a day.

 

45 – 54-year-olds

64 per cent use social media spending 1 hour a day..

Watching live TV has dropped by 37 minutes

 

55 – 64-year-olds

Listening to the radio has increased by 23 minutes spending on average 58 minutes.

65+

24 per cent use social media spending 35 minutes on average.

 

Picture credit: US National Archives / Flickr


BLAZE MESSAGE: 14 lessons fire comms can teach everyone

sapA thousand flowers are blooming in this new era of digital communications.

Amazing things are happening, new rulebooks are being written and old ones tossed away.

But if you are too busy growing roses you won’t spot the great things happening.

Or in other words, look outside your own corner of the world and you’ll find great things.

And so it is with fire and rescue services not just across the UK but across the world. I’ve done some work in the sector and got to know some people and I’ve always left with knew ideas on how to do things.

Often, people in the sector don’t realise just how great their work is. Less in number than local and central government comms people from the sector communicate to save lives and to prevent them. I’d love them to be bolder. They don’t just get you to test your smoke alarm. They save lives.

One myth exploded, though. In the UK the comms is not geared up primarily for documenting heroic rescue. Prevention is better than cure. Statistics say there were 258 fatalities in the 12-months to March 2015 and 3,225 were taken to hospital. There were almost 155,000 fires. This is the second lowest in UK history.

Fire comms people need to move from the pedestrian pace of advice to business to communicating death and sometimes the death of their own colleagues. That takes guts. Not everyone can do this.

There is a community of fire communicators

The FirePRO organisation is the umbrella group for the sector and a bright bunch they are too. But Twitter also connects them not just across the UK but far further. The fact I asked a question about best practice on a Friday night and got a pile of responses is perfect evidence. Neil Spencer from West Midlands fire describes this as a ‘can do, will do, let’s give it a try attitude.’

Here are 14 things you can learn from fire comms

#1 Using planning to get your shizzle ready

Nobody wants an emergency. But they tend to happen and when they do public sector comms people have to react. I’ve lost count of the number of blank faces in local government when I ask what they’d do if a plane crashed, a bomb went off or a tower block started to fall down. Not so fire and rescue.

As award-winning Bridget Aherne wrote in a blog post for comms2point0:

“The way to sum this up quickly – and sorry to anyone who knows me because you’ll have heard me utter this phrase, annoyingly, hundreds of times before – you have to be proactive about your reactive communications.”

Lesson: Good comms planning always helps.

#2 Using Periscope for realtime situation reports

Lesson: If an incident is breaking live video from the scene to give situation reports has real value and can plug into online networks as well as media organisations.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 18-months co-delivering workshops on making effective video for comms. It teaches people to plan, edit, shoot and post video. However, in an emergency the value is not the well-shot video. The value is have video footage from that particular spot at that particular time. Why? So you can communicate with people in realtime. In the UK, there is a duty on comms people in local government, fire, police and other agencies to warn and inform.
As this US example shows, a firefighter giving a commentary or even a brief situation report – has value. Don’t forget anyone with a smartphone and the Periscope app has the ability to fill that information vacuum. Questions can also be posed by people following the stream and answered by fire crew.

In an era where video is highly sought by media organisations online to be in the frontline is priceless.

#3 Using a hashtag

Lesson: A simple sharable hashtag can help spread a campaign.

One of the greatest uses of a hashtag by anyone in the public sector is the excellent #testittuesday tag. Started by Norfolk Fire and rescue it is that brilliant thing of basic advice shared as a hashtag. It encourages people every Tuesday to test their smoke alarm. As basic good advice it can be hard to measure the effectiveness or the fires that didn’t happen because of a test.

#4 Using Instagram as a channel

Lesson: Instagram can be used for soft power. Images of the work people to do interspersed with more serious messages.

Services across the world are starting to make headway with Instagram. Really, there’s no surprise. It’s not like there’s nothing to photograph. If there isn’t a fire there’s the equipment or the staff in the equipment. Kent Fire and Rescue Service excell in this area. A stream that is engaging, fun and personable people could do worse than looking at this.

Keep smiling after after a good night out. Being drunk and cooking don’t mix. #smilesafe #fire #firefighter

A photo posted by Fire and Rescue (@kentfirerescue) on Jul 12, 2016 at 5:41am PDT

 

#5 Using mapping

Lesson: Maps can communicate with the media and residents and reduce avoidable contact.

Back when I was a journalist we made a round of calls to fire stations on our patch at 7.30am, 1pm and 10pm. There were six in our patch and a further 14 in surrounding areas which we sort of covered. That’s 60 calls a call.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service have a mapping page embedded in their website which gives news of incidents with some basic details. They also post images and videos which can be used with a credit. This must cut the amount of time on routine calls. Hats off to Sarah Roberts for this.

mapping

#6 Using the social web as a firefighter and human being

Lesson: People respond to people so let your people.

One thing I’ve long argued for is for public sector people to use social media as themselves. There’s far greater cut-through. People connect better to real people than a logo. So, it’s always inspiring to see real people doing just that. Thanks to @rubonist on Twitter for flagging this.

#7 Using the social web as a senior officer

Lesson: Using the social web allows senior people to be visible and to listen better. It also allows partners and the organisation to better understand their thinking and priorities. 

There has been a trend in recent years of senior public sector people using Twitter to engage, listen, share ideas and give some visibility to yourself.

#8 Using embedded social media video

Lesson: Embedding video to drop into people’s timelines can be a good way to communicate.

Sometimes things don’t always go to plan as this incident which saw five people die in Nechells, Birmingham. Video content posted to Twitter shared the press conference to the community. This could have been uploaded to Facebook too.

#9 Using humour and newsjacking

Lesson: Being creative about your communications and the channels you use can pay off.

As London Fire Brigade showed in their epic news jacking of the racy film 50 Shades of Grey imagination on comms works. A campaign followed in the wake of the film to talk about the number of times people had called for help with locked handcuffs, penis rings and other rather embarrassment-creating problems. The #50shadesofred campaign is a benchmark in public sector comms. Data driven it used a range of channels.

#10 Using data to allow people to build their own picture

 

Lesson: Data can be turned into something searchable to give people street-level insight.

Everyone’s experience is different. This is why it is refreshing to see West Midlands Fire Service use their incident data to allow you to search by postcode to see what incidents happened in your neighbourhood.

merry

#11 Using Flickr as an image library

Lesson: A Flickr library can make thousands of images available for re-use.

Social photo storage site Flickr may not have the sexiness as Snapchat but as a place to be your public image library it remains peerless. There are several organisations in the UK using it well. However, the US use is the benchmark. Los Angeles Fire Department post images to the stream. They have almost 20,000 images. With an open licence anyone can use them. As the argument goes, public money paid for then so why shouldn’t with the permission of the photographer people and organisations re-use them?

LA fire

 

#12 Using Facebook for large communities

Lesson: Facebook pages are a start but not the last word on how people can be reached on the platform.

Pages can be a useful way to have some Facebook real estate although they deal with broadcasting to small corners of the web that can be shared on. Manchester Fire and Rescue and Scottish Fire and Rescue are examples.

But to really engage, you need to use Facebook as the page to comment and add content on other pages. Or join Facebook groups as an individual.

#13 Using Facebook for niche communities

Lesson: Facebook pages for smaller communities can be effective ways of reaching them. The Polish community, maybe. Or in Biker Down‘s case motorbike riders.

Facebook has the numbers so it is worth using. Seeing as it has the numbers yo can also carve out niches where people will congregate. There were more than 5,000 serious incidents with motorbikes in 2014. I’ve long believed that the single corporate page is almost always not the answer for large organisations. There are communities within them, so plug into them. If you are a biker the Biker Down page would work.

kent biker down

#14 Using Facebook quizzes

Lesson: Quizes reach people. Often people who are hard to engage with.

Facebook quizzes can engage with audiences that may well be resistant to leaflets and other comms. London Fire Brigade uses them well and creates them to accompany campaigns. They’ve done them to see if people fancy being firefighters, for example. With this one, they are celebrating their 150th anniversary with helmets.

london quiz 2

#15 Using Snapchat

nimesLesson: Yes, you can use Snapchat.

One of the good things about the web is coming across organisations doing good things in other countries. Take Sapeurs Pompiers Volontaires du Gard. They are a French fire brigade in Nimes in the south of the country who have an imaginative use of images on Twitter and Snapchat too.

 

Thanks for the input for this post from people across the Fire and Rescue comms community. In particular: Catherine Levin, Neil Spencer, Bridget Aherne, Sarah Roberts, Robert Coles, @Rubonist, Thanh Ngugen, Steven Morgan, Phillip Gillingham, Jim Williams, Pave Dhande, Leigh Holmes, Jack Grasby, Pete Richardson, Dave Walton and Dawn Whittaker.


OLYMPIC LEGACY: Twitter wasn’t sure about #london2012… but it is now

How do we look back at London 2012? If Twitter is anything to go by with fondness and nostalgia.

That glorious summer where Mo Farah won double gold, volunteers with foam fingers greeted the nation and Horseguards Parade got turned into a beach volleyball venue.

For some, 2012 was the last of Britain. A summer where we came together and welcomed the world and the world were impressed. For others, it was a summer where it was harder to get to work and G4S had to be bailed out for bungling the security.

Me? Some mixed feelings. One of the #localgov community left us early which cast a shadow. But of the sport and the feeling of unity looking back with fondness. I liked that Britain. I’d like that one back, please.

What did Twitter think in the run-up to London 2012?

In the run-up to London 2012 we ran some analysis of what people were saying on Twitter to benchmark. Of 1,393 tweets:

38 per cent were positive.

32 per cent were negative.

26 per cent were neutral.

Bearing in mind the months of negative stories those figures were hardly surprising. In the run-up to the games the security, venue completion and what would be in the Opening Ceremony all took a beating.

 

But exactly four years people look back with fondness

Looking back the same analysis of 1,505 tweets but four years on in 2016 looking back to London 2012 show a positive picture:

87 per cent were positive.

3 per cent were negative.

10 per cent were neutral.
A BBC Sport tweet that looked back to London 2012 shared more than 200 times led the way. A similar one from BBC Newsbeat was shared almost 40 times.

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Gold and Pandemonium

At the time, the sea change in perception felt like it happened with the Opening Ceremony. If you’ve forgotten it this Buzzfeed round-up does the job perfectly. Me? I started it a cynic and within 15 minutes I was in tears. This wasn’t synchronised gymnastics or Kings and Queens. It felt like my story. This was the story I learned from my Grandpa about how life was hard and all the good things we have we had to struggle for. Would the Empire Windrush appear at an event today? I’d like to think so but I’m not sure.

But on the night, I knew I was in safe hands when I heard a snatch of the Sex Pistols. Anything that has that in wasn’t going to send anyone to sleep.

 

That the results on the track, field, pool, velodrome and everywhere else resulted in medals was great but the Opening Ceremony gave my strongest memories.

There’ll be a whole series of other metrics on London 2012 to judge if it was a success.

 


SIMPLE TIPS: How to run your own unconference

19647936231_193292f98c_kMy favourite day of the year from a professional point of view is one where I earn no money and work like a Trojan with others to make happen.

Commscamp has been staged for the past four years in Birmingham and brings 180 largely public sector comms people together.

It’s an unconference which means that the agenda is decided on the day.

But aside from the conversation, ideas and connections from the day the best thing was hearing some people also want to stage an unconference too. There may be one. There may be two. Who knows? Fantastic. I really hope they do it.

The basics about unconferences I learned from Dave Briggs, Steph Gray and Lloyd Davies. All wonderful people. We staged unconferences because we’d been to a few and fancied having a go ourselves. John Peel used to say punk made it easy. All you had to do was push over a telephone box and sell your brother’s motorbike and you had enough money for a demo. It’s not that different with an unconference.

So here are a few tips.

  1. No-one owns it. Lloyd is quite right in saying that unconferences are not owned by anyone. So have a go.
  2. Find some likeminded people.
  3. Just book some space.
  4. Put up an eventbrite to distribute the tickets.
  5. Scrape together a smidge of sponsorship and UKGovcamp can help with that.
  6. Shout about it.
  7. On the day relax and have fun.
  8. That’s it.
  9. That’s really it.

See? It’s that simple.

I’d also be tempted to do it slightly seperate with what you are doing at work. So, it’s not the day job. But it’s a seperate thing helps the day job. That way you get all the fun stuff but none of the middle manager barriers.

One absolute true-ism from Lloyd is that everyone who goes tends to to love them. But then would like to make a minor change. ‘It was great, but if only we could pre-plan the sessions, that would be marvellous.’ Or whatever the suggestion is.

Don’t.

Keep it simple.

Just have some space. A Facebook group works to get people thinking about sessions beforehand. Decide what you are going to talk about on the day. Then give the thing to the people in the room and they will always, always, always deliver.

Picture credit: Sasha Taylor / Flickr

 


UNCHANGE: There’s never been a more useful time for commscamp

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It’s happening again, I can feel it.

I wasn’t sure if the magic would return somehow but it feels as though it has already.

The magic is Commscamp. It’s a sort of magic that happens once a year when 150 people come together determined to make brighter ideas.

What makes the magic? People who give a damn and want to do things better. People who want to help see that too. And people who like cake. Definitely, people who like cake.

The truth is it also feels like there’s never been a more important time for an event like commscamp. It feels as though it is really needed this year.  Against the backdrop of Brexit, cuts and rapid change there is a need for people to come together compare notes and work things out.

And yet

The phrase that runs through what I’ve done over the past seven or eight years is ‘militant optimism.’ At its heart is a resolve to do things better despite everything

At times, optimism takes a battering. A change of boss. Cuts. More cuts. Brexit. Change. New platforms. Keeping pace. The firm request for a back of bus ad you have to push back on. The easier thing would be to throw in the towel.

Why I think the magic is back

Planning an event like this is easier the more you do it. Writing emails to printers at 11pm when you haven’t seen your family all day is not ‘fun.’

But one moment this week made me think the magic was back. Late night I was looking down the session idea pitches in the Commscamp Facebook group.

  • Income generation. How do we?
  • Live streaming video. How should we?
  • If everyone is a comms expert how do I make my professional advice heard?
  • How can you stay politically restricted and still have a voice?
  • How can I put a cat amongst the pigeons?
  • Coping with guilt and reality post-cuts.
  • Virtual reality video: a beginners guide.
  • A cathartic session just to let rip a bit.

I want to go to them all. Reading them I was reminded why I love it. And I looked at the list of people who want to volunteer to make that happen.

If you can’t come you can still play a part

There’s a limited amount of room and we know that not everyone who wants to come can come. We’ll look to livestream some sessions, post to Twitter on the #commscamp16 hashtag and blog. If you are out of the room we’ll try and find a way you can catch-up.

But one thing makes it worthwhile

If there is one issue that makes commscamp this year really worth it for me it’s Brexit and how we cope with it. I’ve got this strong sense that there’s a strong sense of uncertainty that we would do well to tackle.

It would be great if we could tackle that together.

It feels like the magic is back.

Let’s make it so, shall we?

Commscamp is staged in Birmingham on Thursday July 14. Tickets are sold out.

Picture credit: Ann Kempster / Flickr


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