commscamp: six tips on how to play your part at the ultimate cake table

cakePicture a table filled with cake. Now double it. Sorry, you still haven’t quite pictured enough. The CommsCamp cake table is the world’s ultimate cake table, to rival all other cake tables. It’s a cake fest.

The cake table has become an important part of CommsCamp. It helps to connect people, to share ideas, to enjoy a great day, and to raise money for charity. All round feel good.

But this fest doesn’t take place without the help of those attending. It needs two teams. Team Cake Baker, or Team Cake Eater.

Team Cake Baker
Your job is to channel your inner Mary Berry and to perfect your show stopper. Or failing that, a dozen fairy cakes would be welcome. Or failing that, pop to the shops and buy something. For anyone who bakes a cake you will be entered into a competition for Star Baker, where you could win the converted CommsCamp15 Star Baker wooden spoon.

Team Cake Eater
Your job is to donate some pennies to charity. To eat some cake. Repeat. Simple. But that’s not all, there’s something extra. Something extra special. Every time you donate some money, take a raffle ticket and you will be entered into a prize draw for some top crap, sorry prizes, from Pound World. Let me hear your game show Oooohhh. You also have a role to play in choosing the winner of the CommsCamp15 Star Baker wooden spoon, so vote wisely.

I’ve been lucky to have been involved in organising the cake table since CommsCamp first started. I’m also a very experienced cake eater, so here’s my top tips for surviving the comms camp cake table:-

  1. Go to the gym or go for a run every day from now until the 9th July – this will ensure guilt free cake eating.
  2. If the thought of exercise makes you shudder, you can also get guilt free cake eating by donating pennies to charity every time you scoff a slice of cake, so come with lots of pennies.
  3. Wear baggy or elasticated clothes – you will need to account for the sudden tummy spread which will occur and a restricted tummy filled with cake is not a happy tummy.
  4. You will not need any dinner that evening, so don’t bother thinking about it.
  5. The day after will be a day spent eating entirely savoury products. A sausage roll will be the ante venom to all the sweetness.
  6. Be prepared to go off cake for a while. After last year’s Comms Camp, I couldn’t face cake again for a month, but this sorry phase in your life will soon pass and a Victoria Sponge will be yours again.

So, see you at the cake table

Kate Bentham

Official Cake Monitor

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A little bit of knowledge isn’t dangerous. It’s a must.

By Knowledge Hub sponsors commscamp 15Darren Caveney

It’s long been accepted that a key strategic advantage for the public sector is the opportunity and appetite to share knowledge – good and bad – for the joint benefit of the widest possible community, including our residents, our patients and our customers.

But making that happen at a time when many public services and organisations are being shrunk can be tricky to pull off.

Fresh from landing a top 20 place as a UK Digital Leader, Knowledge Hub offers a creative free solution to be the place where this sharing and innovation can thrive.

Knowledge Hub – or KHub as many users refer to it – is fast developing the number of collaboration groups it hosts as well as its range of services and products for the UK public sector at a time when the sector needs it most.

You may already be a user. You may have registered a while ago but not visited recently. Or Knowledge Hub could be completely new to you. So what is it and why should you check it out?

Knowledge Hub is the digital collaboration platform for public service. Free to join and UK-hosted, Knowledge Hub offers you a secure place to exchange knowledge, ideas, insight and experience to spark extra innovation and productivity in your organisation, with your partners and right across public service.

KHub members have said that it helps them to:

  • Connect with peers and colleagues
  • Share  and retain knowledge
  • Acquire essential new skills
  • Make better use of time and resources
  • Find real solutions
  • Develop a professional reputation
  • Inspire innovation and new ideas

Knowledge Hub offers something for everyone, from small project groups to national communities of practice, and with new Social Hub and Professional Network solutions whole organisations can now benefit from a cost effective, easy to implement service that will help you work socially and work smarter.

If you’re not already a member of Knowledge Hub, you can join today – it’s easy, simply register here and join almost 1,500 existing collaboration and improvement groups. Or, if you can’t find what you need, start your own group.

To find out more about Knowledge Hub’s products and its services take a look here and you can also join in the conversation on Twitter right here.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Knowledge Hub logo


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Commscamp: The Countdown Has Started

14421873240_d9c731087d_zIt’s fair to say that the clock is really ticking for commscamp and July 9 is not that far away. The countdown has started. So, we thought about a few things with a few weeks to go we need to tell you. We’ll stay in touch in the run-up.

Firstly, IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT PLEASE LET US KNOW. It’ll be sad and we’ll cry but we can give your ticket to someone else. Our email addresses are at the bottom of the post.

Secondly, you may think that with a ticket ‘that’s it. Job done.’ Heck, no. Commscamp will succeed if the attendees make it succeed. It’ll all be down to everyone who comes.


As you know, the event is an unconference where session ideas come from the attendees themselves. We’ve got a nifty ideascale web thing where people are already floating ideas for sessions. That’s great to see. We’d love you to go an add yours and vote on ones you like. Link is here.


Yes, there will be a cake stall and yes, we’re asking attendees to bring a cake with them. We’ll be selling slices to raise money for a good cause. More to follow.


On the day of the event, we’ll be arranging a walking train from Birmingham New Street and Birmingham Moor Street stations. More on that in the coming weeks.


Of course, as in previous years there’ll be a few people around the night before. We’ll start to gather in multiple CAMRA pub-of-the-year The Anchor  pub in Bradford Street, Digbeth at 6pm. If you don’t know it, that’s a 10 to 15 minute walk from New Street station. We’ll then go to Manzils Indian restaurant in Digbeth (the street name) in Digbeth (the area) at 8pm. That’s four minutes from the pub.

We have an eventbrite for the curry just to get a handle on numbers. If you fancy coming, it will be great to see you. All you need to do is stump up for your food and drink. To grab a ticket for the social go here.


We’ve got a Twitter @commscamp and the hashtag this year is #commscamp15.


As ever, a big thank you to our volunteers as well as GOLD sponsors MusterPoint, Knowledge Hub and Govdelivery, SILVER sponsors: Touch Design, Helpful Technology and comms2point0, BRONZE sponsors: PSCSF, IEWM and All Things IC and our SUPPORTERS: Government Communications Service, LGComms and the LGA.

Any questions drop us a note to, or

Picture credit: Ann Kempster.

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A rally cry for women to pitch at commscamp 15

I know I’m biased but this post is about encouraging more women speakers at commscamp 15.

There have been a couple of blog posts written on this issue previously – more recently by Rachel Miller (@allthingsic) – you can read it here  and here by Sarah Pinch (@ms_organised).

This isn’t something new, it’s been talked about and mused over for as long as I’ve been attending unconferences (and conferences for that matter). And it’s interesting the first time I went to an unconference, which was commscamp 13, it was pointed out that there was a distinct lack of women in the queue to pitch. It wasn’t something I had particularly noticed but it was something that the ace Lorna Prescott and Pauline Roche had.

You can read more on that here Positively what spawned from that was the brilliant initative that is 300 seconds which looks to give women an opportunity to speak in a public forum.  I previously wrote about 300 seconds and the great opprtunity they provide commscamp 15 rally cry for women to pitchhere .

It did get me to thinking though and increasingly mindful of women speakers at events, particularly in communications when women make up the majority of workers in the sector (last figures from PR Week have 67% of women versus 33% of men). Why is it that women don’t put themselves up to speak at events? What is it that holds them back? While I agree with the points made by Rachel about what stops women stepping up at conferences, based on my own experiences, I feel that all too often it is down to lack of confidence and belief in what we do.

Research has shown that women are far more likely when looking at a job description to find the one element of the job role they cannot do, while men on the other hand would focus on those that they can do. We can tend to be overly humble and not that keen of being in the spotlight and that unfortunately can come out when we attend conferences or unconferences.

At the same time, I’ve never seen a number of women more scorned than when I went to UKgovcamp earlier this year and a few men called during proceedings for more women to speak up. The response was one of ‘it’s up to us to pitch, we don’t need someone of the opposite sex to point this out for us’. The general consensus was it was patronising and if we wanted to pitch a man calling women out on it, regardless of how well intentioned just got up women’s noses.

That being said, I’m a women so I’m putting out there a strong call to all the females attending commscamp 15 to pitch a session at the event on 9 July so that we make sure it’s the most balanced commscamp unconference ever. And if that isn’t a good enough reason to, here’s my other thoughts on why you should:

1. There’s an ideascale where you can test your session before hand. This means you can get a view from others as to whether your session will fly or not. It’s also a chance to practice what you’re thinking to see if it works. People can vote in advance as to whether they think your idea is a good one to picth on the day or not  – it’s a useful easy way to see what others think first before the big day. Pitch your idea  here first

2. Pitching a session is a chance to discuss tricky issues or even easy ones in a supportive, chatham house rules style environment

3. You can get ideas for how to solve a problem or be creative for free

4. It’s a good way to build your confidence and gives you a buzz

5. There’s a new ideas fund of up to £350 for the best idea to come from commscamp 15 – wouldn’t it be great if you won it. Read more here

6. Pitching is a great way to meet new people and build connections

I write all these as a women who personally dislikes with a passion putting myself out there to pitch a session. And for no reason more sinister than I’m not a great fan of public speaking . It doesn’t sit easy with me but I make myself do it and it has proved to be so useful and fun. Yes, I did say fun.

While I do always think in my usual way after each pitch that I could improve and do better, each session I’ve pitched has got easier and easier. Any discomfort I have is far outweighed by the pluses I gain.

So whether you agree with me or not, I hope I’ve done enough to convince you to pitch. It would be really something if we could count on all the females attending commscamp 15 to respond to the rally cry to make this the most balanced commscamp ever.

Emma Rodgers
Co-organiser of commscamp 15

Image reproduced under Creative Commons licence

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