Along with free coffees, the thing I love about conferences is that you get to see how other teams work and the things they get to talk about. As I listen, I can’t help thinking, ‘What would I have done in that situation? Would I have said that, or done it that way?’ It’s an enjoyable sort of peer people-watching, and last week I was lucky enough to be in a room full of communicators, hearing how to deliver success with less money.
Hosted by my favourite broom cupboard star, Andy Crane #noeddtheduck, it was inspiring stuff, so here are five things I took away:
1. Hairdressers hear it all. Peter Holt, Oxford City Council
Influencers and trusted messengers change according to where you are campaigning and when. Don’t just default to the usual suspects of public figures or journalists, as hairdressers just might be a more trusted source of information.
2. Behaviour trialling is back. Pinky Badhan, Prime Minister’s office
Behaviour trialling or A-B testing, is a really simple and effective way of finding out what people want. It’s an underused technique, and a great way to increase public engagement. Asking people to choose between two different coloured recycling bins, led to an increase in recycling.
3. Shine or crash in a crisis. Alicia Custis, Stockport NHS
The way this team dealt with the shocking saline poisoning murders at Stepping Hill hospital was fascinating, and although we don’t all work in crisis management, these still apply:
- Preparation is the key to being able to manage effectively.
- Find out who is talking, build new relationships with them, and be part of the conversation.
- Maintain a constant and consistent line of communications.
- Crises are key moments that shape teams and transform careers. What you say will either shine or crash.
4. Email marketing is still where it’s at. Dave Worsell, Granicus and Andy Allsopp, Essex County Council
Although it seems social media is taking over the communications world, email marketing is still the most effective digital channel, especially when targeted at specific groups of people.
Different channels offer different opportunities, so the more you can find out about your audience, the better.
Digital channels can quickly reach audiences, and if you can reach just 40% of an audience you have a real opportunity to influence and engage.
Reading newspapers is fast becoming an experience - consumed like a visit to a coffee shop, so if that’s your audience, give them words to savour.
5. Consistent messages build reassurance and trust. Shelley Wright, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
This gave real insight into the Manchester mayoral elections and how they dealt with the Manchester Arena bombing. What really struck me was the awe-inspiring way they worked tirelessly with barely a moment to eat or sleep. Most importantly, they quickly got to grips with the narrative and ensured messages were relevant, consistent and inspiring, which went a long way towards keeping spirits high amongst the people of Manchester.