It’s been a little while since we’ve blogged, so my apologies. If there’s an excuse it is that it has been extremely busy round here. Good busy, of course.
And, if anything, it’s only set to get busier. For a small number of us that general busy-ness will next week include CommsCamp, an event we’re getting just a bit excited about – not least because we’re one of the sponsors.
The event has been organised by Dan Slee, Darren Caveney and Ann Kempster. Some of you will know that Dan and Darren are the guys behind the genius of Comms2point0. Like the blog, the event is very much for those interested in communications for the public sector. I’ll be helping a bit – with some social reporting on the day – and I have a strong suspicion that Catherine Howe will be doing some talking. Nonetheless, this is an unconference so nothing is planned. Well, apart from the fact that I have it on very good authority that everyone will be having a tremendous (and tremedously productive) time.
The reason for writing this post, though, is because I thought it might be a good idea to bring up some of the things I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to talk about at the event. That, I hope, doesn’t sound too un-unconferency, but I think it’s good to kick around some of the issues that are really burning in our minds…
- Learning who owns the relationship: One of the things we’ve been talking about recently is the issue of who owns the relationship with the public in an organisation. It used to be owned by different people in different places but the web and, more specifically, social media has helped to break these distinctions down. Understanding how this is resolved in the future strikes me as an important issue.
- Embracing failure: I hate this myself, but I’m beginning to think we need to learn how to fail in terms of communications. I think one of the biggest problems people from comms backgrounds encounter in using social media is the fact that things will go wrong that they can’t control. Accepting and even embracing this – but, of course, learning from it – is a real skill we need to think about.
- Communicating complexity: I was really taken by Jason Kitcat, the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council’s explanation of why the Council’s Open Door webcasts (in which he answers questions put to him on Twitter) are so valuable. He said (and I paraphrase here) that it allowed him to actually explain some of the difficult issues and compromises he and the council have to come to. It seems to me that this is a big challenge for organisations. Basically finding ‘channels’ where complex discussions can take place with the people outside. This is made possible by social media and online communities – but doing it is a different thing.
- And, on a related one, building communities: At the moment I’m doing the Feverbee Online Community Management course, in which I’m learning all about how how to build and manage online communities. I’m rather keen to talk to folk about how online communities might be of value to local authorities and other public sector organisations. That is both internal online communities and those that already exist outside authorities, like hyperlocal blogs and forums.
So, just a few things. Of course, because we work for a company serving public-sector communications, I’m quite keen to do more listening than talking and I’m sure there will be a great deal to learn. For that reason, I’ll be blogging after the event with some reflections to keep you up to date on what the burning issues in my mind are then, too.