Posted in Future Leaders

Future Leaders: Best Practice Day

As part of the LG Comms 2016 Future Leaders Programme we were invited on two best practice days this week. They were both about leadership. I could only make the first day and my head is now buzzing. Here’s 76 little comms treasures I took away from it.

  1. I should do reflective thinking more often. Note: I really intend to start doing this more often
  2. Be enthusiastic, determined and want to be the best
  3. Evaluation is part of everyone’s job
  4. Don’t be afraid to send the media NIBS and definitely do more video
  5. Think strategically, support priorities and be prepared to be on call 24/7
  6. 85% of media is proactive – sell in stories
  7. The IKEA method – customers will have to do more for themselves
  8. Do a regular ‘who reads what’ survey for residents. Understand what residents want and where they get their information
  9. Get a seat at the top table
  10. It’s about leadership, not management
  11. Understand politics
  12. Have a corporate narrative – what do you want to be famous for!
  13. Have a personal narrative too
  14. Be honest, don’t just say what people want to hear
  15. Horizon scanning – what’s next? What are the day-to-day issues?
  16. Branding is not just logos, everyone needs to understand it
  17. Campaigns are not just leaflets. Have an annual campaigns plan with budgets, get it agreed and don’t deviate from it or add more to it
  18. e-media is not modern. It’s an integral part of our work now
  19. Staff engagement goes beyond internal comms. Get the whole organisation involved. That’s what’s important
  20. Evaluation – track performance. It’s about the value the team adds. Own team’s performance and set targets
  21. Celebrate success
  22. If something goes wrong, learn from it
  23. Be a trusted advisor – be the go-to person
  24. Reputation is about trust, confidence, value for money, satisfaction, well-informed residents,  engaging, involving, internal advocacy, impact on daily lives
  25. What % of staff live in your borough?
  26. Prepare for winter weather
  27. Understand satisfaction with services once a year. Benchmark
  28. Use council tax bills to communicate
  29. Do an annual staff roadshow. 1 week over 3 days. Questions submitted in advance. Visit other offices too. Incentivise with bacon sarnies.
  30. Number 1 thing that influences voters is if they’ve heard of the local councillors
  31. How do you want voters to perceive elected members?
  32. A comms plan isn’t a strategy
  33. Advising a councillor? Gauge confidence and develop an understanding
  34. Sometimes you need to be blunt
  35. Always try and feedback after an interview. Offer training
  36. Have early/open conversations with the leader and the cabinet
  37. Communications are the frontline delivery for policy
  38. You are a leader for the whole place, not just comms
  39. First 100 days – what’s your comms plan? Who, what, where, why, when, why and how
  40. Hot desking is a good thing
  41. Have a daily huddle and weekly meetings
  42. Say no in the right way so you don’t seem obstructive
  43. Listen and be helpful
  44. Definitely don’t sweat the small stuff
  45. Phone and f2f always top trumps an email
  46. Never be too grand to… send out a press release, do a tweet, attend a photo opportunity
  47. Sometimes it’s good to go home early and start late
  48. Do a message house – key messages in the roof and layers underneath for each with facts
  49. In a media interview ask yourself and plan for the worst question you could be asked
  50. Consultation should be used to gather insight
  51. Do more work with tenant participation
  52. Engage with taxi drivers – they know the area and talk all day
  53. Leading with creativity is about creating the right environment
  54. Creative leadership styles – The explorer has a strong vision, gardener creates the right environment for people and the player/coach gets their hands dirty. You can be all three
  55. Get a fresh perspective sometimes and see things from another point of view
  56. Being creative in leadership is about permission, collaboration, persistence, presence, resilience, confidence, constraints, goals, task orientation and strong communication
  57. Developing a brand – speak with one voice
  58. Branding should build pride and be relevant and authentic
  59. Everyone should buy into and understand the brand
  60. Branding should be big, bold and make a statement. It needs to be something people can believe in and own. It has to be hardwired in everything you do
  61. The Book of Wonder is a completely fab idea from Plymouth!
  62. If you want branding to work in an organisation no one should have their own desktop publisher. If people aren’t doing it right make sure you pick up on it every time
  63. Devolution is a big deal
  64. Pick your fights, don’t die in a ditch, control the controllable
  65. Keep a calm head
  66. Stick to your plan. It’s about expectation V reality
  67. Communication evaluation is about telling a story that convinces the people that matter
  68. Be sharp like Sherlock!
  69. Be Strategic – be aware of more than just comms
  70. Be Hardworking – evaluation can be difficult but invigorating
  71. Be Accurate – accuracy is vital. Are your conclusions valid?
  72. Be Respected – evaluators are respected and are the go-to people for help
  73. Be Professional – evaluation is not just a footnote it’s a profession
  74. AVEs is not the value of communication
  75. The GCS model for evaluation is useful it tells a story
  76. You said, we did campaigns raise expectation and reaction – they’re not always the best method

Big, huge, mahoosive thank you to everyone at LG Comms who organised this best practice day and for all the speakers who took time out of their busy schedules to talk, present and listen to us budding comms professionals.

Posted in Comms Camp, Events

Comms Camp 16

Simply put…this was a great day of learning, re-energising, discovery, networking and ideas. Here’s my doodle to visualise the day as a whole and some of the things that I took away from it.

Comms Camp16

Posted in Local Gov

Hey, it’s been a long time…

It’s been a long while since I last did a blog post.

In fact it was February. The last thing I wrote about was the LG Comms Digital Seminar in February and A LOT has happened since then.

Both work and home life has taken over. The biggest thing is the fact that I have a baby on the way. That along with the stress of moving house and all the added busy-ness of work it’s just been a little bit chaotic.

So I thought I’d do a little recap and reflecting on what’s happened since February aside from the patter of tiny feet and for sale sign going up.

Team Work
We’re only a small team of three at work but we’ve made a big impact already. Some of the projects I’ve been involved in have been our new intranet – which will be going live soon. I’ve played a role in our efforts for Gravesham in Bloom – mainly on our website and Twitter. I’m already looking into our Christmas programme of events and there’s lots of other projects too – all running simultaneously. Forms packages for stage two of our project, knowledge base for customer service staff, web chat and so much more in-between.

New Website Designs
Since February our website redesign has come on strides. We’ve written a really detail project brief and we’re working with a local web design company to help us realise our vision and aims in the website we want to produce for our customers. The designs are now at the stage where initial concepts are being tested. If you’ve got some time I’d love to get your thoughts on what we’ve done so far. It doesn’t function like a normal website at the moment but there’s a survey to fill in to help us take it onto the next stage. Here’s our designs and the survey.

Content, content, content
I have been plugging away at new content for our new website and it’s turning into a big job for one person but something i really love doing at the same time. I’m juggling lots of different departments at once ploughing through various draft stages and sign offs. I absolutely love to write so this part of the new site is right up my street. It’s been challenging to take the council jargon out of it all considering I’ve worked in local gov now for eight years as I have been sucked into the way it all works. This is why it’s so important to step outside of this sometimes and put 100% into user testing.  Slowly but surely the content is coming along and we’re making real progress. By the time our web designs are plumbed into our CMS, we’ll be ready to upload some real content to test – which is great!

I’ve designed and run some really successful social media training in-house at work, specifically for our planning department to get them thinking about various ways they can communicate the local plan. This was a huge success and has left the team with a real enthusiasm for thinking about new ideas and innovative ways to get messages out. For me this is really great to see and I’m excited to see where they take it once the consultation starts.

Social Media – a question
So one question I’d like some views on is social media accounts for councils and where do you stop? Do you sign up for all of them and see which ones work best. Do you try the biggest ones – Twitter and Facebook and test the water? I’d be really interested to hear what others are doing for this and how it’s controlled internally. Do these channels land on comms or a digital team to manage or is more freedom given to more teams across the council. How do you say yes or no to every single department, project or event wanting its own social media accounts versus this information going through corporate accounts.

At work we’ve been experimenting with MailChimp. We wanted to start reaching out to our residents to keep them in the loop with everything we’re doing in terms of digital services. But one idea led to another and we’ve now extended this to a generic monthly newsletter for council news and information. So far we have 600 people subscribed to this newsletter and our very first newsletter has been opened by more than 60% of people. This is has been very positive to start with so watch out for our August one coming out in a few weeks. If you’re interested you can sign up.

As part of a Kent Connects initiative I’ve become a Digital Envoy. If you haven’t heard of Digital.Together it’s worth taking a look at the Digital.Together website. It’s basically a year-long idea to promote digital across Kent. I’ve been picked as an ambassador of sorts to help promote the work they’re doing and encourage digital services take up across the county too.

I was very privileged to have a mentoring session with Darren Caveney of Comms2point0. This session was really useful and we’ve put together a skills and experience matrix. Although I haven’t managed to do any further sessions this is something I’d like to pick up in the future. I’ve also been keeping my eye out for when the LG Comms future leaders programme opens for 2015.

And there’s plenty more that’s been going on at work, these are just some of my key highlights.

I’ve managed to take a few days’ leave amongst all of this, have been crocheting baby blankets and baby scrapbooking ready for the big arrival.

Posted in Digital, Events

Digital Seminar

On Wednesday 25 February I hosted a Digital Seminar with Darren Caveney. I was representing LocalGov Digital and Darren was there from LG Comms.

To say I was nervous about the day was a complete understatement. I was petrified about speaking in front of so many people. Some I knew and some I didn’t. I don’t know what was worse. I knew I just had to get on with it though. And believe it or not, after I did my presentation with Phil Rumens the nerves disappeared and I could enjoy the day.

Here’s a doodle about everything I took away from the day. I found it extremely useful and can take some of the learning into my day job. I’m a Digital Officer at Gravesham Council.  Be great to know if you went what you got from it. Tweet me @KarenJeal

Digital Seminar Doodle

Posted in Digital

Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day

Today is Safer Internet Day!

With digital now taking centre stage in our lives and children’s lives it’s important not to forget that you need to stay safe when surfing the web.

My partner has a nine-year-old and using her tablet and phone is just part of her life. She seems to be on it all the time. So we are constantly drumming the message home. Over and over again. And so is her school. They have regular internet safety lessons and that is so pleasing to hear. When she comes home and is enthused about making an iMovie with her class mates about what it means to be safe online. Or that they tell her the dangers of using Snapchat and Instagram, it helps reinforce our messages to her. She knows not to  talk to people she doesn’t know. She’s smart but it doesn’t hurt to keep going on, like adults are supposed to.

I think we’ve gone on about it so much that she gets what we’re trying to say but it’s still so so important to keep talking and to keep repeating what we’re saying.

If you only do one thing today. Make it matter. Make sure you take a look at Safer Internet Day stuff online. It’s really useful, well I thought so anyway!

Posted in Digital, Events

Getting the most from Digital


This is definitely going to be worth taking a look at. You can register for the seminar via the LG Communications website.

And if you can’t make it but would still like to take part you can take a look at our virtual element that will be available on this blog on the day. We’ll be running a simultaneous ‘unconference’ here on this blog. Simply register the topic you’d like to pitch and get views about by emailing me we’ll set the pages up for each topic before the day to give a bit of background on what that subject will be about and what you’d like to gain from the conversations and then the comments will be open for people to start discussing, suggesting ideas and creating conversations. Hopefully simply enough. It is the first time we’ve done this though so it will be a digital experiment.

You can also get involved in the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #LGCommsDigi


Posted in Digital


Pinch Punch First of the Month. Happy February everyone! Let’s use February to celebrate everything to do with local gov websites and digital.

I’m Karen and I work at Gravesham Council as the Digital Officer and as part of our website project and also to aid my own learning we want to call on local gov digital people everywhere to find out what tip or tips you’d share with us and everyone else to help do digital in a local authority.

As we approach February we can’t think of a better way to do this than to using digital itself and we’ve called it #LocalGovWebFeb.

You might have some tips on doing the perfect navigation, is there a perfect nav for that matter? You might want to share user testing ideas you have or any programmes you use that others will benefit from knowing about. Icons – yes or no? What about content – anyone got any quick fire tips to get this right? Design tips, segmentation? Or if you have recently launched a new website what have you learnt that others can learn from too? The list goes on…

It’s a simple crowdsourced blog idea. We want to start and encourage the conversation and then share the learning.

You can get involved by commenting on this blog post or tweeting using the hashtag #LocalGovWebFeb and we’ll collate all the results in early March and share everyone’s tips, ideas and suggestions, plus there’ll be a doodle too – watch this space!