This is a brilliant guest blog by #CommsHero Kelsey on an event we attended last week on how to become a more effective Communicator – a #CommsHero if you will. I really was pleased to see a great gender balance on the panel – with three males and three female experts – a fantastic reassurance that Comms is for everyone! The chair, Faye Galvin admirably kept the fast paced day in check, There were fantastic visual minutes by Fran O’Hara as well as the terrifically talented Sarah Anne Cromwell  giving support as facilitator – she’s Britain’s first award winning operatic comedian don’t you know! and then there was Joe Dumont’s showstopping voice – a must see (hear!?) I’d definitely recommend this training experience – I’ve never experienced anything like it to be honest!! It would be great to hear your experiences if you’re also a certified Comms Hero too but right now I’ll hand you over to Kelsey now to talk you through her own thoughts of the day –

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Kelsey Watkins – Guest Blogger, Comms Hero!, member of the Housing Women Cymru Network and Communications and Tenant Engagement Officer for a Local Authority in Wales

“After the buzz that surrounded both the Manchester and Wrexham Comms Hero events when I saw Asif, Lee and the rest of the team were finally bringing it a little closer to me, in Bristol, booking my place really was a no-brainer. But would it live up to my expectations?!

I must admit I was initially quite disappointed when I completed the standard (boring) online form to reserve my place, but when Lee phoned me soon after to confirm my booking and followed up with my Comms Hero pic on Twitter, the smile soon returned to my face! Throughout the whole experience it was personal touches like this from the guys at Resource that really make Comms Hero something special.

As I’m still relatively new to a comms role I must admit that when I attend events like this I often worry about being exposed as a fraud among so many experienced comms people! But comms hero was exactly the opposite – it gave me confidence in my abilities and proved that actually we all have what it takes to be comms heroes!

A constant theme was just how important comms is to our organisations and how comms should be a priority and high on everyone’s agenda. The content and style of the whole day were great,- just take a look at the hashtag #commshero and the twitter feed to verify that but there were some real stand-out moments.

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I found Helen Reynolds’ ‘Comms Doer to Comms Leader’ session particularly useful. It focused largely on using Twitter; if I’m honest I am something of a fair-weather friend when it comes to using it, but Helen’s advice on using it to access information, raise your profile and form professional relationships was really useful and I’ve already started using some of her practical tips, such as using lists and connecting with people who work in similar roles so I can share information.

John Popham’s session was also inspiring in that it proved we all already have the skills to become comms heroes and that our personalities are probably the most effective marketing tool we have. Sharing stories, as well as injecting humour and fun into our campaigns are possibly the most effective way of engaging with people and helping to build trust in our brands.

The whole day was interesting, jam packed with practical tips and useful contacts and I could feel my confidence growing with each session. Then, BAM! The villain of the piece entered the room and soon destroyed the false sense of security we had been lulled into! Brian Church, of 24Housing Magazine fame has a brutal honesty and deadpan delivery style which raised more than a few eyebrows (mine included), but his message was just as important as the more encouraging and positive speakers during the day. I think it’s fair to say that there is always a risk that comms people can start to believe their own hype and Brian’s session was the perfect antidote to this. With all the subtlety of a sledge hammer he pointed out how slow we can react at times and was clear about how we can improve our relationships with journalists, in turn improving our chances of getting coverage of our stories.

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There was so much to learn from Comms Hero and not just from the speakers on the day.

Even the attention grabbing approach taken by Resource to the style and marketing of this concept is something that we can all learn from when it comes to planning our own events and campaigns – I thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to unleashing the comms hero in me – are you going to do the same?”

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