Yes, you’ve noticed. The title of this blog relates to stuff I’ve enjoyed or found interesting this month rather than this week.
It’s been a busy start to the year, and this has really culminated in a lot of late nights, early starts, hours on trains and in the car this month.
Did I mention Post-it notes? A lot of Post-it notes too.
As a result, the weekly blog has taken an unfortunate hit. But, there’s been such a lot of good stuff happening, I had to share it with you.
Here’s a flavour of the month since my last post:
1. Strategy workshops
I’ve been really fortunate this last few weeks to be spending a lot of time with members of the public, and some amazing teams in helping to co-design strategies and solutions.
There are a lot of things I love about my work, and comms in general; but this is probably my favourite bit.
I’ve been working with members of the Cheshire public, a group of recruitment and employment specialists, and big group of academics and researchers to find our what’s important to them, and how clients can create comms and solutions that work best for them.
Co-creation, co-production, co-design. Call it whatever you like. For me it’s very simply about understanding people’s needs. That’s what drives me to do what I do, and why I love any opportunity to get in a room with people and speak with them.
2. Rooms full of colourful stickers
I’ve enjoyed many hours and days this month in co-working spaces making sense of the literally hundreds of post-it notes I’ve acquired as a result of the strategy workshops I’ve been doing.
These humble pieces of a self-adhesive square paper really are a goldmine of multi-coloured insight.
From these small squares, great things happen….
3. Great campaigns
I had a great time working with some of my best freelancer friends on a social media campaign project for an NHS client very close to my heart last month, and we’re super proud of the impact it’s had.
I’m really looking forward to working on some really exciting upcoming creative pitches too…
4. Freelance community
I do love the various ‘DIY’ comms communities that I’m proud to be a part of. This week, I had an absolute blast at the IPSE “Win Work and Scale Up as a Freelancer” event in Manchester.
I met lots of lovely people that I’d love to work with, and that were really very inspiring.
I do love these communities of self-supporting people, doing the right thing by helping each other out. No one is at these events because has told them to be, or with a sales target to meet; it’s all about mutual collaboration and support: even if that just means sharing the occasional pain and stress of being a comms professional and freelancer. Caring, sharing, and being inspired goes a long way; and it’s great to see these communities coming together, not because they have to, but because they want to.
I’m a huge fan of the Being Freelance Podcast too, and it was great to meet the host Steve Folland. I can’t wait to hear the live podcast he recorded on the night too…
5. Do the right thing - blog post
I was really happy to be featured on comms2.0 again this month with a blog post titled: Do the right thing.
It’s a piece that reminds all us comms people that we have an important role as the conscience of our organisations, and that, wherever we work in public service, we have a duty to help our leaders prioritise the things that will make our users’ lives better.
6. New opportunities
It’s heartening to see and hear about a lot of new opportunities to work on new projects; and this last month has seen a lot of that.
During January, it was very much a case of getting my head down and delivering the array of projects I had to work on. But it seems that now Christmas is fading memory and organisations are thinking again about what they need to deliver in the coming weeks and months; and there are some really exciting things on the horizon…
7. What I’ve been listening to
It’s been a pretty epic listen, but I really enjoyed all 14 hours or so of Sapiens of Yuval Noah Harari on Audible.
It’s been out for a few years now, so I’m pretty late to the party, but I loved the forensic deconstructing of human history, the myths and stories that bind our societies together, and the assumptions that sometimes hold us back. It’s a fascinating, sometimes troubling, book, but I’d say essential reading or listening for anyone who wants to understand how a mix of science, evolution and culture has defined the human experience over the last couple of hundred thousands of years (give or take).
As a communicator, I see how both organisational and societal structures and cultures can be both great enablers and barriers to meeting people’s needs. This has been a super interesting audio-book to help me understand where some of those things come from - and where they might lead us in the future.
It’s of course a hard copy book first and foremost. But honestly, I’d still be on Chapter 1 if I’d have actually tried to “read” it. Thank God for Audible…
8. The quirks of #freelancelife
Freelancing. It has its challenges and its stressful moments.
But the one thing you cannot argue about is that it offers incredible flexibility.
So, when my son’s nursery asked me to come and play the guitar and sing random songs to about 30 toddlers on a Friday a couple of weeks ago, I was able to quickly check the calendar and say “OK, sure why not”. I didn’t have to check the Annual Leave calendar, or put a formal request in for lieu time, or pretend I was going to the dentist.
I just went. It was mad. But brilliant. Arguably the highlight of my month.
And if you’re interested, the “set-list” included acoustic renditions of “Baby Shark”, “5 Little Ducks”, plus, given the Beatles-maniacs we are in our household, “Yellow Submarine” and a specially learned version of “Penny Lane”.
The things you do…
9. Crossing continents
I’ve absolutely loved working with the DigCit Institute to help tell their story of how they came together and how they’re empowering schools across the world to be pro-active in harnessing the positive power of the online world.
They’re my first non-UK based client (they’re based in Connecticut, USA), and it’s been wonderful to speak with some amazingly passionate educators and thought leaders via Skype.
It’s an issue I really care about, so it’s a real privilege to be working with them.