Comms Reboot: a Saturday of discussion, insight and inspiration

12 October 2022

Saturday. Train strike. Birmingham.  For a couple of London-based folk, this wasn’t the best day and venue for an event; but who were we to let striking train drivers get in our way.  We hopped on one of the last trains out of town on the Friday and were all set for the Comms Reboot.

This being an “unconference” (like its predecessor #thebigyak ), the agenda was decided by the participants.  Lots of sessions about DE&I, Hybrid Working, Change, Engagement, Digital, Measurement, Channels, Crisi, Neuroscience and even Creativity.  You also have the rule of two feet, which means that you can leave one session and go to another – without feeling guilty or getting glares!

So what did we hear?

Hybrid continues to dominate the conversation – and how to create a consistent narrative and engagement regardless of whether you’re at home in your PJs or in the office surrounded by empty desks.  There’s no doubt more people are going back into the office, for at least one or more days.  But there is such strong emotions around the subject that it is difficult for comms to navigate.  As ever, clarity about your audiences; being multi-channel; and opening up a dialogue are all important.

DE&I didn’t feature as highly as it has in recent times – and there was only a small group who attended this session.  Perhaps, sadly, have other topics dominated the comms landscape of late – especially wellbeing? Also, through the discussion, it felt that organisations had almost got into a cycle of celebrating ‘awareness days’ or ‘months’, and was it becoming a tick-box, diversity-washing exercise?  We all agreed that more action needed to be taken to shift dials in all diversity directions.

We know that many workplaces are multi-generational, and it was fascinating to hear from employers about how they were contending with this.  It seemed less about understanding the generations than actually creating comms that was everything from TikTok to the Telegraph.  Short-form content certainly feels more relevant than ever – and not because of different generations – we just simply don’t have time for too much.

Creativity was ‘mass attendance’ – maybe because it was a late afternoon session and everyone needed the equivalent of a sugar rush.  A really nice example shared from Deloitte about using a security screen on your PC to promote wider computer security.  It was such a simple nudge and a brilliant headline “If you can read this screen, you can’t read what’s behind it”.  Nice.  Trouble is, now everyone wants a Security Screen campaign…

The personas session at the end of the day was fascinating.  How can we start to divide up our audience to deliver more relevant, more incisive comms – in the same way that marketers do to their customers?  We talked about Deloitte’s Business Chemistry onboarding survey which puts colleagues in one of four camps – and how that data could be used to target different groups.  Equally, how you can write multiple emails and target people depending on either behaviours, demographics, seniority etc.  We talked about the Siemens example of writing 21 emails to increase voluntary pension contributions, which increased contributions by over 20%.

There were many more discussions – and we’d really advocate coming along to this event and others like them.  The beauty of an unconference is that you get to discuss and investigate more than you might at a more traditional conference.



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