VIDEO LIST: 30 things I know after helping train more than 2,000 people on how to plan, shoot, edit and post effective video

People filming a concert

If you are lucky, there’s a handful of things in your career that you’re really proud of.

I’m lucky. I’m proud of several. I bet you are, too. But one of the things I’m most proud of is helping to develop a workshop to make better use of video that has helped comms, PR, digital, internal comms and frontline people.

It came about through a beautiful mix of data, serendipity and experimenting about three years ago.

I’d been looking at the data at how people in the UK were using video far more but that the quality had lagged.  People had the tech in their pockets with a smartphone but didn’t know how to use it. So, bumping into filmmaker Steven Davies who was talking how to shoot video with a smartphone it made sense. I come at things as a former journalist and comms person. Steve comes at it with a filmmaker’s eye. So we developed the session and we’ve continued to adapt it.

Our sessions give people baby steps and set them on a path. One of our delights is to see someone grow in confidence and do amazing things.

Here are 30 things we’ve learned in training comms people:

  1. You don’t have to be Steven Speilberg. In fact, if the only video you’ve ever shot is by accident, that’s fine.
  2. You need to know the data to help understand why video is important. 80 per cent of the internet will be video by bandwidth by 2019. 78 per cent of the UK population have a smartphone. And 54 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds watch short-form video once a day or more.
  3. You need to know that its not a golden bullet. If the answer is a poster, use a poster.
  4. You need to be able to argue just as effectively against using video as for to be a truly useful comms person.
  5. You need to know where your audience is before you decide to make video. What platform they dictates how long the video should be. The optimum length for Facebook is 15 seconds and for YouTube it is just over three minutes.
  6. You need to know that mobile phones sold in 2018 shoot broadcast quality footage.
  7. You need to know that people watch shaky footage online all the time. If you make content with a few rough edges and you are public or third sector people are unlikely to shout.
  8. You absolutely need to know that video should be one of the core skills that any comms person should have in 208. How to use it and how to make it.
  9. You need to know when you are editing to put your best content at the start. It keeps people watching.
  10. You need to know not to use copyrighted music unless you have permission.
  11. You need to know where to find royalty free music. Here are more than a dozen sites.
  12. You need to read the licence before you use royalty-free music to check what your end of the bargain is. It may be as simple as crediting the author.
  13. You need to know that 85 per cent of video is watched without sound.
  14. You need to know its okay to be creative with video.
  15. You need to know that a man in a suit talking against a wall is more than a million times less interesting that baby ducks on a waterslide.
  16. You need to know how to film using the smartphone in your pocket.
  17. You need to give frontline people the skills so they can shoot when they are out and about with the right training.
  18. You need to know that GDPR affects video, too. You’ll need permission.
  19. You need to relax a little.
  20. You need to practice making video in a risk free environment. So, your cats, your dogs, the view from your commute can all be chopped and edited.
  21. You need to know that snapchat and Instagram stories video is upright and the rest is broadly wide.
  22. You need to know that a video of a GP giving earache advice led to 100 fewer parents bringing their children for an appointment at a single practice.
  23. You need to know that including real people in your video will see more people watch, like and share to their network and friends.
  24. You need to take your video and put it in front of people. Go find the local Facebook group about local history for the video of the new exhibition at your museum.
  25. You need to know that a 35-year-old parent talking about why school gate parking is a bad idea while standing outside a school will cut through to parents far better than someone in a suit in an office.
  26. Your best content is outside an office.
  27. You don’t need a new expensive video camera. You need a smartphone that is ios or android.
  28. You need to know that sound can be a struggle without a microphone. Steve recommends this clip-on one for around £60.
  29. Social video clips are a quite different thing to live video where a different set of rules apply.
  30. You need to relax a little.

If you are interested in how you can stay ahead and use video yourself or in your team take a look at upcoming workshops in Exeter, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and London. Or if those dates don’t suit give me a shout 

50 days of human comms #52: London Underground tube boards


Just last week I wrote about what the first 50 days of blogging examples of human comms looks like.

One observation was that human comms seems like a thing that takes place out-of-London, not on corporate accounts and definitely from people on the frontline.

One person, quite rightly, pointed out that there were examples of just this in the capital. Tube messageboards are the perfect example of comms in the 21st century. Something physical. Something human. Som,ething transient. And something that can at the same time be quickly shared in a photograph online.

There have been wipe clean whiteboards at London underground stations for decades. Their primary role is to share travel advice and important information.

But at some point in around 2009 they started to crop up on Twitter as a picture where a member of staff had written a thought for the day or a homily.

Two great things then happened. First, people took photos of them and then shared them. Second, and I’m only guessing at this, when their viral spread was reported back to the comms team nobody moved to close them down.

They are beautiful and they are human precisely because they have a human message written on them.

What do they say? That London Underground staff employ real people who, like you, are trying to get through their day as best they can. It’s a spirit that corporate London Underground posters to remind people not to abuse staff attempt to tap into.

Tube messages as fake news

In the aftermath of the London Bridge attack, Prime Minister Teresa May read out a message that reminded terrorists that “THIS IS LONDON… We will carry on.”

It was a message that struck a chord and was widely shared. That it was created by a Tube message generator raised eyebrows. But it didn’t detract from the message itself.

But they can sum up the national mood in adversity

They can sum up the national mood when someone famous has made a mark.

They can go for the inspirational quote

Or they can offer something pithy to reflect on on a journey

They can brighten the journey

And they can help deliver messages using a human tone

For me, tube messages represent the best of many worlds. Easy to deliver. Shareable. Funny. Witty. Reflective. All in a human voice.

But how to take this approach in your organisation? That’s the tricky part. You need trust. You need engaged workforce. You need a whiteboard and a whiteboard marker. But most of all you need trust.

LEARN SKILLS: Fresh training dates for 2018

fresh training

In 2018, our need to learn has never been stronger for PR and comms people.

It is said that when we look back, 2007 will be a landmark year. It was the year the iphone, iplayer and android was launched and we struggled to keep up.

What faces us is simple. Change.

What that change looks like is the more complex question.

·        Artifical  Intelligence can automate 16 per cent of what PR does right now. This rises to 32 per cent by 2023, a CIPR study shows.

·        More than 90 per cent of adults used the internet in the past 12-months, ONS stats show.

·        One in five adults are online for more than 40 hours a week, Ofcom stats reveal.

·        78 per cent of online audiences are already watching live video, livestream say.

·        80 per cent of internet will be video by 2019, say Cisco.

It’s never been a more exciting time to be a comms person.

Its also never been harder to keep track of how to best communicate and to sharpen skills.

What does good content look like?

And how can you create it?

For the past four years, I’ve been working on comms2point0 full time. One of the great joys has been to offer training. Over that time I’ve ran a range of sessions from social media, comms planning, social media as an elected member, story telling, media training, photography, digital comms and video skills. At each session, I’ve learned something.


You can use your attendance for CIPR CPD points.

And yes, there will be cake.

I hope you can make them.


This day workshop gives you all you need to plan, shoot, edit and post effective video using just your smartphone or tablet.

We’ll look at where video sits in the big picture so you can plan your strategy. We’ll look at the optimum video length for each platform. We’ll look at how you can get the most out of your device when you are shooting. We’ll show you how to plan a video using BBC principles that also helps you politely reject bad ideas.

We’ll help you shoot a set-up video then guide you through how to edit it and tell you where best to post.  I’ll be joined by Steven Davies, a University lecturer and filmmaker who has worked for a range of people including BBC, Channel 4 and S4C.

16.10.18 LONDON full details and how to book here

18.10.18 EDINBURGH full details and how to book here

22.10.18 BIRMINGHAM full details and how to book here

23.10.18 LEEDS full details and how to book here

24.10.18 MANCHESTER full details and how to book here

15.11.18 EXETER full details and how to book here

Sold Out? Or do the dates not work? Drop me an email and ask about arranging an in-house workshop or join the waiting list for a future event.


SKILLS YOU CAN USE FOR LIVE VIDEO With Dan Slee and Steven Davies

Live video is accounting for increasing amount of traffic and we spend eight times as long on live video than we do with recorded video. Facebook and Twitter’s algorithm favours it, too.

But how to do it? We’ll talk through the landscape where live video sits. We’ll talk through how to plan a video using BBC principles. How to stay GDPR-compliant and what content works.

We’ll show you some best practice examples and give you tips on how to start with your mobile and build-up to a multi-camera broadcast that will knock the socks off your audience.

I’ll be joined by Steven Davies, a University lecturer and filmmaker who has worked for a range of people including BBC, Channel 4 and S4C.

LONDON 8.11.18 full details and how to book here

Sold Out? Or do the dates not work? Drop me an email and ask about arranging an in-house workshop or join the waiting list for a future event.



Back in 2008, I set-up one of the first 100 public sector Twitter accounts in the world. Since then, I’ve looked at best practice and what works best.

We’ll look at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat. We’ll look at the algorithm to maximise the best chance of making effective content. We’ll also look at what audiences use each platform.

We’ll  look at dedicated Facebook research on Facebook groups and how to navigate them and reach a new audience.

Lastly, we’ll look at how to write a comms plan that will help you achieve effective results.

BIRMINGHAM 6.11.18 full details and how to book here

LONDON 9.11.18 full details and how to book here

Sold Out? Or do the dates not work? Drop me an email and ask about arranging an in-house workshop or join the waiting list for a future event.

NATURAL COMMS: Being human is an outside-of-London thing and what I’ve learned after 51 days blogging human comms


Back in 1999, when a mere 200 million people were using the internet some big thinkers gathered on a web forum.

They debated about what the internet would look like and came up with a list of 99-points they called the Cluetrain Manifesto. It’s an amazing document. It predicts the future of the social web.

The third of the manifesto’s 99 points is that the social web will work best through conversation. And those conversations will sound human.

Why your organisation needs to have a human voice

So often, when I’m helping organisations use the web better to communicate I hear frustration that their social channels aren’t working. Almost always, the fault lies in a lack of human voice in what they post.

A good social channel should look, feel and be human.

If you do this 80 per cent of the time it earns you the right 20 per cent of the time to make a call to action.

Break this balance on the web and you come across like a pizza delivery company stuffing pizza menus through people’s front doors.

Why I’ve gathered a list of human comms

Gradually, its something that bright people in organisations have woken up to but as I’m training I’m struck by the struggle some people have. So, I decided to gather together examples of organisations sounding human.

What I learned

Starting a while back I thought I’d find a handful of examples and leave it there. Instead, I found a trend for people in organisations to want to sound more human. When I stopped and thought about it, the answer is obvious. Why would they not?

Being human isn’t a London thing

One thing that struck me in the examples that bubbled to the surface was the wide variety of places  that were experimenting with an approachable tone. But one thing shone through. Very few were in London or were large corporate accounts.

It is the police officer on the frontline, the Mayor or the member of the public who loves something that the organisation does. In the argument for devolved accounts, the ability to be human and connect is important.

Being human needs common sense

The farewell tweet from the railway company or the Mayor who books a cinema seat and asks others to join in with an Abba sing-a-long has something in common. Being human is good. But knowing when to be that informal is just as important. Announcing the death of the Mayor needs to be done with common sense not a row of sad faced GIFs.

Being human leads to rewards

I get absolutely that comms people need to evaluate what they do and make an appreciable change to the organisations. The blood donations, the foster parents, the library users need to increase. It’s what finance listen to. So they should. But the 80 per cent human content earns you the right to do all that.

It’s not messing about on the internet. It’s a hard-headed data-driven approach to using the web in 2018.

Day 1: Dudley Council’s spoiled tea sign.

Day 2: Jake the 5-year-old sweeper driver.

Day 3: Place marketing Finnish style.

Day 4: Edinburgh City Council’s out-of-hours Twitter.

Day 5: Virgin Trains new poster.

Day 6: Sydney Ferries name their new boat Boaty McBoatface.

Day 7: The basketball playing officver from Gainsville, USA.

Day 8: Hampshire fire crew rescue a bench in a church fire.

Day 9: The BBC respond to The Sun.

Day 10: Doncaster Council’s gritter World Cup.

Day 11: Remembering the Kings Cross Fire by London Fire Brigade.

Day 12: North West Ambulance Service’s response to a man abusing a paramedic.

Day 13: Sandwell Council as car share for #ourday.

Day 14: Burger King tackle the bullies.

Day 15: Sefton Council’s message about women.

Day 16: Queensland Ambulance Service take a dying patient to see the ocean one last time.

Day 17: Thames Valley Police’s drugs find.

Day 18: The busking West Midlands Police officer.

Day 19: Bath and North East Somerset Council’s singing food hygiene certificates.

Day 20: A Welsh hardware shop’s Christmas advert.

Day 21: A missing dog pic from the New Forest.

Day 22: Cardiff City Council’s GIF traffic warning.

Day 23: The human railway manager on the tannoy.

Day 24: Dorset Police’s Christmas song.

Day 25: The Yorkshire Motorway Police officer and his wife.

Day 26 The @FarmersoftheUK Twitter account.

Day 27 Lochaber and Skye Police talk to someone who may be a victim of domestic violence.

Day 28 A newspaper interview with medics who treated Manchester Arena bomb victims.

Day 29 Kirklees Council use a GIF to remind people their drivers are human, too.

Day 30 London Midland Railways signs off.

Day 31 Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust respond tp an earnest research about Peppa Pig.

Day 32 Essex County Council respond to snark on Facebook.

Day 33 Dorset Police respond to snark on Facebook.

Day 35 Visit Wakefield or your man will leave you.

Day 36 A gang of geese in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire and the police who tackled them.

Day 37 KFC parodies Donald Trump

Day 38 Hampshire Police tweet a video to encourage girls to be cadets.

Day 39 The stylish Merseyside police dog’s hair and his proud owner.

Day 40 The Mansfield Police officer playing the piano in the home of the victim of crime.

Day 41 Lidl Ireland ask how your weekend was after they had a weekend from hell

Day 42 Customer service at New Street station in Birmingham

Day 43 A Down’s Syndrome video that uses a chart hit to tell a story

Day 44 Gateshead Council shoots down an urban myth about street lamps.

Day 45 The University of Reading call out racism against immigrants.

Day 46 Anti-littering posters in Bray in the Republic of Ireland.

Day 47 The Mayor of Sheffield turns a cinema into a party

Day 48 Hertfordshire County Council’s tweet acknowledging the horror of rush hour.

Day 49 Barnsley Football Club write a letter to a fan who they saw on social media was having a hard time of it.

Day 50 Newcastle City Council celebrate ‘A’ level results with students on Facebook Live.

Day 51 Devon and Cornwall Police use a picture from the film Hot Fuzz




50 days of human comms #51: Devon and Cornwall Police and a Hot Fuzz image

Sometimes, the mix of image and text works brilliantly.

So, step forward Devon and Cornwall Police for using this image of a swan in a police car from British comedy Hot Fuzz.

(Full disclosure: I’ve delivered training for Devon and Cornwall Police.)

Why is this good? I’ll recap.

Because it says police are human.

It reaches a different audience than that which tunes into every day crime issues.

It paints a picture of the challenges they face.

It builds an audience who are attracted by the pop culture and stick around for the missing person appeals.


Spotter’s badge: Anne Mountjoy.

30 days of human comms: #50 students celebrate A level results on a council Facebook Live

A level results are here. A date in the calendar that has moved from the traditional newspaper to Facebook Live.

Back in the day, newsrooms would have sorted the jumping for joy results picture.

There’s still a bit of that around but its interesting to hear that some news organisations don’t cover it anymore. That means a chance to celebrate good work from students by the council comms team.

This short Facebook Live from the trailblazing Newcastle City Council team does just that:

It’s interesting to see the news values operate just as well online as they do in print.

In print, students’ Mum, Dad, family and friends would have been the audience.

In digital, the same audience is true. Rather than heading to the paper shop for the pic the audience now likes and shares.

Refreshingly, the live video here doesn’t have a councillor. Why? Because this is a day for some students just to celebrate.

There are risks inherent in a live broadcast and this navigates this by having it with students who have pre-opened their results away from the risk of others sobbing with disappointment in the background. There’s also little chance of it being gatecrashed by less happy pupils.

The council page isn’t called the council page at all. It’s ‘Our Newcastle, Our Great City.’ I love that. The aim surely is to reach an audience and give them information. There is a lesson here.

30 days of human comms #49: Barnsley Football club contact a fan by letter they saw having a hard time on social media

Good human comms doesn’t have to be digital. It can be a letter, too.

Good work, Barnsley Football Club.