#commsbingo – Conference Edition

It’s comms conference season, and that means the internet will be abuzz with 140 character insights from a range of events.

There are exciting – and challenging – emerging trends and new insights. We will see that in abundance at the excellent #IABC16 this week as the worlds leading communication membership association gathers around the theme of innovating global communication.

When you have been fortunate to have attended, chaired, co-curated and presented at a fair range of communication conferences and events*, you do start to see patterns in terms of insights and learnings. These recurring insights form a kind of communicators BINGO!



If we are to judge the progress of our profession by the wisdom shared on twitter from many comms events, then it seems we are caught in a loop. Yes, communication events do attract emerging practitioners. But seeing foundation knowledge shared as revelations does raise some questions about how effectively we are preparing communicators for professional practice.

If we are to continue to develop, to grow our collective commons and body of knowledge, we need to keep pushing for deeper insights, evolve our discussions and move beyond the foundations through research, education and creating connection.

Oh, and if you have any other #commsbingo insights, please tweet them so we can collate the common knowledge.

Share well!

*I have been a past chair and co-curator of Melcrum Strategic Communication & Digital Communication Summits in Asia Pacific, presented at the 2014 IABC WC in Toronto, and have been involved in communication professional development since before twitter was invented. Learn more about the Shorter COMMS Plan in this free webinar.

Get the foundations right for 2015

How many times have you heard “I can’t believe it is December already!” from colleagues or family lately?

The end of the calendar year provokes responses ranging from shock at the speed of time passing, through to satisfaction at the achievements of the year, to mild panic as people look to their plans for 2014 and realise what is missing.

For communicators, December is a time to be able to reflect on the achievements of the waning year, while setting up for success in 2015.

Capture knowledge from the year

  • Take time to capture the lessons, issues and achievements of the year. If you already have a reporting process, pull out the highlights.
  • If communication projects didn’t have a formal post-implementation review, take time to capture successes and the areas that needed improvement.
  • Consider an annual ‘communication report’ to key stakeholders.
  • Consider whether to seek recognition for quality work. The IABC Gold Quills are open for entries until 7 January.*

Plan for the year ahead

  • Understand the priorities for the businesses, teams and clients you support for 2015.
  • If they do not have clear plans yet, use the opportunity to schedule communication planning sessions with your key stakeholders.
  • Determine how to address any gaps or improvements from past communication projects.

Prepare yourself

  • Take time to assess your capabilities based on what was achieved and what will happen in the year ahead.
  • Plan development options such as participating in professional associations, seeking coaching or undertaking skills training to fill any gaps.

Keeping plans simple

The pace of change in organisations requires us to be adaptive. Plans change, often. Focus on tools and processes that enable flexibility, that are simple to use. Using a common approach across your organisation builds skill and consistency. The Shorter COMMS Plan is a simple methodology to support better outcomes from all types of communication; whether small projects, business planning or team management. A new one-day workshop designed to help apply the Shorter COMMS Plan is being held in Sydney on 4 February.

New Workshop to apply the Shorter COMMS Plan is now available.

New Workshop to apply the Shorter COMMS Plan is now available.


* Disclosure: I am Co-Chair of the Gold Quill Blue Ribbon Panel for Asia Pacific.



Social Media Club Fail and the perils of scheduled tweets #SMClub

Update: Following the publication of my article, there was formal contact from Social Media Club apologising for the post and acknowledging that appropriate action would be taken, and the original post by Audrey Rochas has been removed from their site

12 hours after the original contact, Social Media Club have apologised and removed the original post by Audrey Rochas

12 hours after the original contact, Social Media Club have apologised and removed the original post by Audrey Rochas


Earlier today, the scheduled tweets of the Social Media Club, a loosely organised social media promotion organisation, posted the following tweet:

The offending tweet from @socialmediaclub

The offending tweet from @socialmediaclub

As a communicator, I am interested in community management, effective use of social tools such as Twitter to build awareness and drive engagement.

As a human, I am also interested in social good, including mental health. I have family members who have experienced a range of long and short term mental illnesses, have lost extended family and friends to suicide and my partner works in mental health education. It’s kind of a vested interest, and as such I care about representations of mental illness online, in the arts and in the workplace.

So my ire was already rising when I clicked through to the article, which perpetuates the ‘mutiple personality’ myth of schizophenia throughout. Most offensive however, was the accompanying image of the ‘angel and demon’.

The offending imagery attached to Social Media Club post

The offending imagery attached to Social Media Club post

There is a long history of equating mad with bad, which goes a long way to contributing to the lack of awareness of mental illness, the perpetuation of outdated knowledge and stereotypes.

Am I overreacting? Considering Social Media Club positions itself as an organisation that promotes good online practices, and has over 150,000 followers on Twitter, and 42000 likes on Facebook, it has a substantial potential reach. As people working in communication, marketing and social media, there is a responsibility to perpetuate constructive and factual information.

If there was an editorial process for inclusion of material on the blog, it has clearly failed to pick up the tone and issues relating to the post.

Comparing to 'normal' people is only one of many issues with this post.

Comparing to ‘normal’ people is only one of many issues with this post.


If substantially more established communication organisations like Edelman can make errors of judgement when it comes to discussing mental illness and mental health online, it is understandable that a content engine like Social Media Club is going to struggle from time to time.

Particularly frustrating is the Social Media Club’s inability or choice not to respond effectively to the criticism. As their twitter account clearly consists of scheduled tweets, with no editorial owner, the inappropriate link is being repeatedly tweeted with slightly amended wording at regular intervals. (An earlier tip from #SMClub points out that twitter is cracking down on identically worded scheduled tweets, so they are at least following practice here.) Despite multiple attempts to contact members via twitter, the link keeps coming…

Scheduled tweets mean an inability to rectify a problem

Scheduled tweets mean an inability to rectify a problem


Resources for mental health awareness

For information on effective social media practices relating to mental health and mental illness, here are a range of resources that will help social media professionals and community managers.

Useful Twitter Tags for mental health resources online

Mindframe Media

An Australian initiative to support positive communication of mental health and illness in media, the arts and online.

US National Institute of Mental Health

Mind Charity UK

Sane Australia (including Stigma Watch)

This is only a small selection; there are extensive resources available.

Watching this space…

Is my response disproportionate? Perhaps. But this is an opportunity for Social Media Club to demonstrate their degree of thought leadership and practical steps to rectifying issues online when they occur.

What an ironic place the social web can be. Only a few tweets further up their timeline is a post on managing a social media crisis. If expertise is demonstrated by actions rather than rhetoric, it will be interesting to see how Social Media Club addresses this issue.

If you are a member of Social Media Club, I encourage you to contact them through your chapter to raise awareness of this issue.

The contact details for the Board and Volunteers are here:

Postscript: As of the time of posting, the offending site appears to be down.


We're not in right now...

We’re not in right now…

Insights from Strategic Communication Management Summit part 1 #scmsyd

[View the story “#scmsyd #internalcomms top tweets Part 1” on Storify]

Communication lessons from #IBMCMOStudy

View “Communication lessons from #IBMCMOStudy” on Storify

Not all stories are equal

[View the story “What’s the (corporate) story?” on Storify]

The Spring communication health check

It’s spring, the days are warmer, and things are growing! In preparation for summer,

Time for a check up...

The grass has ris...

people are back at the gym, and healing the winter lawns. Winter bodies and gardens aren’t the only thing that benefit from some care and preparation for the seasons ahead. Like all natural systems, an effective communication strategy requires time and focus to grow.

We are quickly approaching the last financial quarter for 2011. Taking time before the new year to ensure your communication system have all the levers in place will be essential to delivering the 2012 business strategy for your organisation.

Take this 30-second health check to see how prepared your communication function is for the new year.

Business performance can be improved with effective communication in your business.  As a communication leader, you need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to communicating strategy.

If any of these levers are not in place, you may not get the results you are aiming for from your communication efforts.

We have a spring special on communication health checks for small and medium size businesses. Contact us on +61 412 504 252 to discuss how this special offer can help your business, or email us via this spam-safe link

What communication channels didn’t exist when you were born?

A brief history of all things internal communication, part 1. Channels.

A history of communication channels

What channels didnt exist when you were born?

I have started developing an interactive timeline of the history of internal communication. The finished product will include developments in organisational theory, management practice, technology and key thought leaders and their impact on communication.

Part one of the timeline includes some notable milestones in communication technology and channels. I’ve included an overlay of the birth years for boomers, gen Y and millenials.

What communication channels didn’t exist when you were born?

Are there any channels you think should be included?

Next – key management theory and practice that influenced the development of internal communication.

The Communicator’s Guide to 30 June

Save the date! 30 June is a great time for communicating.

The end of financial year is a busy time for almost every type of organisation. For communicators, there are a few end of year activities that are useful for employees. For leadership communication, it is also a time to consider the messages for the second half of the year. Here are some of the top communication activities to incorporate into your June plans in order to be prepared.

Business Communication Activities

  • Is your employee data up to date? Correct, current employee data is essential for organisations, but it doesn’t take long for records to get out of date. The employee Payment Summaries generated for the financial year are a great trigger for tackling this. If your organisation uses employee self-service or e-HR, remind employees to update their details so their payment summaries can be sent to the right place. There is a strong ‘what’s in it for me’ (WIIFM) factor for employees to correct this information, so this can also be a good time to conduct a related campaign for other data such as emergency contact details or communication preferences such as mailing lists.
  • Be useful at tax time. Consider promoting external links to the ATO within the HR sections of your intranet highlighting anything that may be of particular interest to your employees.
  • Explain legislative change to your employees. In Australia, Paid Parental Leave provisions come into effect from 1 July. There are a range of support resources from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
  • Not now, I’m accounting. Different professions have different peaks and troughs through the year. For your organisation’s accountants, financial services teams and payroll services areas, now is not the time to send an employee survey or long communications about benefits. Be thoughtful about what messages are important, and which ones can wait until the following month for these groups.

Leaders and Manager Communication

  • Celebrate the year to date. For those parts of the business who have a high workload in the lead up to end of financial year, remember to schedule some time or an event for celebration to recognise the effort when everything is over.
  • Set the course for the rest of the year. The leaders of the business should be considering the messages required for the second half of the year and begin incorporating them into their communication activities. The following questions can prompt leaders to think about what messages are required:
    • What has happened in your market or industry over the first half of the year
    • What is the most important thing from a customer perspective? From a competitor perspective? From an investor perspective?
    • What successes and challenges has the business faced so far?
    • What has worked well? Who should be celebrated and recognised?
    • What are the three ‘big things’ to focus on for the second half of the year?

Every organisation is different, so these tasks can vary. Choosing financial milestone dates can be an effective way to encourage even the most reticent managers to reflect on their communication needs.

A simple plan…

The simple guide to creating a communication plan I posted at WikiHow has notched up over 2000 visits.

How to Create a Communication Plan

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

A communication plan is a road map for getting your message across to your audience. The plan is an essential tool of marketing, human resources, corporate affairs and public relations management. Spending time planning your approach will improve your ability to achieve your desired outcome.


  1. Know why you need to communicate. What do you want to be different as a result of communicating?
  2. Consider who you need to communicate with. Make a list of your potential audiences.
  3. What do these audiences think about the issue or topic now? How can you find out? Make a note of what you know or what you need to do to find out.
  4. Define. What do you want your audience to KNOW, THINK or DO as a result of the communication?
  5. Write your key messages for each audience. These may be the same for each audience, or you may have to consider addressing their differences. Remember the purpose of your communication.
  6. Decide when you need to deliver your messages. Your timing may determine how you need to communicate.
  7. Decide how to deliver your messages. If you are trying to generate awareness, written communication may be enough. If the message is complex, or controversial, you may need to plan for more interactive approaches including face to face communication.
    • Who will deliver the message? How will you prepare them?
    • What resources are required?
    • How will you enable feedback? How will you know that your audience has received the communication?
    • How will you know if they have understood, acted on or changed as a result of the communication?
    • How will you follow up if additional communication is required?


  • Be really clear about why you need to communicate. This will be important planning the who, how and when.
  • To help capture the information, you can use a table with the following columns:
  • Audience | Outcome | Message | Approach | Timing | Delivery | Measure/Follow Up | Resource
  • Know your audience. The better you understand their priorities, concerns, issues and environment, the greater your ability to target your messages to them.
  • Know your messages back to front.
  • Be creative in how you access your audience. Go where the fish are – if your audience are online, communicate online. If they are working on the same floor as you – gather together and talk.
  • Focus on what your audiences need. It will help you identify and develop your messages.
  • Remember that you are communicating all the time – a communication plan needs to be consistent with your usual activity.


  • Be candid, open and honest in your communications.
  • If you are unsure of something, do not bluff – clarify and commit to following up the information.
  • Don’t use the ‘scattergun’ approach and send a whole lot of communications in the hope that some will stick.

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Create a Communication Plan. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.