Fancy a comms cocktail? I’m a trained mixologist don’t you know!

Reproduced under creative commons license

Fluorescent cocktail by Gabriel Millos (creative commons)

When I started out in the brave new world of communications I didn’t realise that cocktail making would be one of the necessary skills I’d need to acquire. But it is – really, it is.

These days, you need to shake, mix, and muddle a whole load of new comms elements if you want your message to compete in a crowded market and get through to people.

A simple Gin and Tonic just won’t cut it anymore – what you really need to be able to do these days is to produce the PR equivalent of the Woo Woo or, dare I say it, Sex on the Beach?!

But while it might sound daunting, actually the secret to any good cocktail rests with some basic key ingredients. And, if you can master these, it’s really easy to mix up something special for your organisation.

Creating Useable content event workbook

Creating Useable Content event workbook by @cooperaj

That’s why the great people behind the 1000 lives campaign hosted the ‘Creating Useable Content’ event this week.

Run by Public Health Wales, it was designed to help public sector communicators learn some of the new skills needed to become great ‘content producers’.

This excellent conference focused on the 5 key elements that all PR professionals need to get to grips with in order to succeed.

 

I’ll share them with you now, in suitable cocktail style:

1) The Blog Bomb:
The influential Dan Slee from comms2point0 encouraged everyone to start blogging – for themselves and their organisations. He talked us through the benefits, explained how to bust the barriers and introduced us to the technology out there to make blogging easy.

2) Video Fizz:
Steve Davies, creative Director of filmcafe, demonstrated how to create videos using the technology we already have – smartphones and tablets. He ran through the essentials for making video content ‘useable’– framing, exposure and sound.

3) Totally Tropical Infographics:
Data expert, Caroline Beavon, showed us how to create infographics. They’re an effective way of sharing complex reports and ideas and she highlighted some excellent design tools (Piktochart, Infogr.am and Raw) where you can produce them yourselves without needing to know about techy stuff like coding. Caroline showed us the various stages you need to go through, including how to order your data.

4) The Photo Royale:
Photographer and artist, Pete Ashton, taught us how to take great photos that get widely shared – explaining composition tricks, such as the rule of two thirds and sight lines.

5) The Social Media Smoothie:
And, social media consultant, Miranda Bishop, gave some excellent advice on planning your social media activity, what content you should post, how often, the scheduling tools out there such as Hootsuite and Buffer and how to make them work for you.

 

Photo of the visual minutes from the day

photo from @fran_ohara

The conference team said they’d consider the event a success if each delegate came away with 5 ideas they can implement.

So, here are my top takeaways and, in the interests of mixology, I’m going to stick with the cocktail theme – and notice below, my very first ever DIY Infographic to illustrate:

 

The Commsbird Cocktail

The CommsBird Cocktail recipe infographic

My DIY Infographic

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz/ 56 ml of Smartphone filming: A smartphone is all you need. Forget the expensive equipment, just use your mobile, a cheap ‘Smartlav’ plug-in microphone and you’re good to go. It’s more spontaneous than large camera kits and easy to use once you get going. Just shoot it, cut it and share it. Simples!

 

  • 1 oz / 28 ml of DIY infographics: You can create them yourself with some fab free tools. Don’t use too many colours though and keep the design clutter free. And remember, creating Infographics is not the job of the design team. It’s a content editor’s responsibility to do the thinking, then brief the designers. Don’t throw them a 200 page report and ask them to create one from scratch.

 

  • 2 ox / 56 ml of YouTube: YouTube is the second biggest search engine. I didn’t realise that. It’s really important to have a presence on this platform if you are to increase your audience reach.

 

  • 1 tbsp of tweeting: Make sure you tweet about your blog or campaign at least 5 times. The average life of a tweet is just 18 minutes, so you need to repeat your messages. Don’t worry about annoying your followers with too many tweets – they made an investment in you when they decided to click the follow button.

 

  • A dash of creative juice: Confidence is key and experimentation is the pathway to success. Keep trying new things to stay ahead of the game and practice, practice, practice.

And, finally, to decorate your cocktail add some fab visual minutes from Fran O’Hara, with a sprinkle of some #content14.

Photo of visual minutes from the event

Visual minutes

I have to say, as a delegate, I really enjoyed the day. It was great to meet new people, learn new tips and tricks and build on the knowledge I’ve already gained.

Do you have some cool ingredients in your cocktail shaker?

(If you’re interested in finding out more about the event – there’s a great Storify of the day).

 

This blog post first appeared on the brilliant comms2point0 website. A big thankyou to @danslee for including it and I hope it puts me in touch with even more fab comms people as a result.

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