What will you pitch at commscamp 16?

One of the things I love about commscamp is the fact that the attendees set the agenda. They come along with ideas buzzing and just go for it, telling the room what they hope to cover. And if people like the sound of what has been pitched, the scene is set and it becomes a commscamp session. It’s as simple as that.

Often the success of commscamp and the pitches on the day is because new people who haven’t pitched sessions before get involved. It means more sessions that are fresh, give a different perspective and resonate or are the complete opposite with what others are thinking. Whichever it is, you’re always likely to learn something new. If you’re a first timer for commscamp 16, here’s a few tips that may help you get your pitch prepped.

1. Everyone at commscamp is really supportive and they want to hear what you have to say.
2. You can pitch on an issue or challenge that you have at work that you need help with. Pitching a session doesn’t mean you have to have the answers – it’s about finding common ground atv parts with others and with over 150 attendees expected at commscamp, there is bound to be someone there who has been through similar circumstances and is happy to share.
3. If you don’t feel comfortable going it alone, you can double up and do a session with someone else.
4. Fun, let it all out therapy sessions work really well. It doesn’t have to be serious.
5. Practical learning sessions always go down a storm.

And if the above doesn’t help, there’s already a host of really interesting sessions that have been put forward on the commscamp facebook group. They range from talking about Brexit and how it affects you as a comms professional to how to manage a myriad of social media accounts. If you haven’t yet joined, you’re welcome to do so. Just search commscamp on facebook, send us a request and we’ll add you.

Alternatively tweet your ideas in the next two days using #commscamp16 and you’ll get an idea of what works and what doesn’t.

That being said this is my fourth year at commscamp and I’ve never seen anyone’s ideas not taken up. Please if you are coming for the first time, I’d encourage you to give it a go. I think you’ll be pleased you did.

Photo credit: Ann Kempster


commscamp: a space to talk in difficult times

Commscamp is upon us and boy, we need it. We’re pleased to have MusterPoint as a gold sponsor. Here the founder of the public sector management tool writes about the need for space to talk in interesting times.

by Christine Townsend

If there is one thing that is certain at the moment, it is uncertainty and as clichéd as it may be, these really are unprecedented times of change.  Thankfully, we have CommsCamp to look forward to and provide a space for useful and thoughtful discussion about what happens next in the world of public sector comms

The beauty of an event like CommsCamp is that regardless of the turbulence that the world is going through, there are still people who want to come together to explore, learn, discuss and develop. These are people that will have different opinions and that is the best thing – there is no point in having a day of nodding dogs getting together because nothing would get done and nothing would change.

Our individual experiences and views, which are inevitably seen through a different lens for each and every one of us is collectively our strength. It wouldn’t be too grand to describe the event as some sort of summit. It’s an amazing opportunity to discuss together in a timely fashion the best way forward to support each other in what will inevitably be tough. It will be tough for different reasons, but it certainly isn’t going to be a walk in the park for anyone. But then who in public sector comms does the job because it’s easy?

I’ve never liked easy – sometimes when transitioning from public sector to start up founder I’ve hankered after easy, but then as everyone is quick to point out – I’d get bored, I’d be unchallenged and ultimately feel unfulfilled. MusterPoint came about because of change – it was the way social media changed the policing landscape beyond recognition during the London riots in August 2011. It was a long week that shocked and inspired people in equal measure and those events arguably pushed this country through an uncomfortable period of change.

Almost five years later and the way we communicate has changed, but the fact that people want to communicate has not. That’s why public sector comms specialists are as vital and relevant as they ever have been.

The reason why I am such a supporter of CommsCamp is because it always energises me and I can be guaranteed of learning from peers and people who I would never get a chance to share a space with. I’m looking forward to seeing how the future looks to everyone and am genuinely happy to be able to help acilitate such conversations.

Christine Townsend is founder and CEO of MusterPoint the social media management tool for emergency services, public sector and government. 

Christine musterpoint jpeg

there’s never been a more useful time for commscamp

It’s happening again, I can feel it.

I wasn’t sure if the magic would return somehow but it feels as though it has already.

The magic is Commscamp. It’s a sort of magic that happens once a year when 150 people come together determined to make brighter ideas.

What makes the magic? People who give a damn and want to do things better. People who want to help see that too. And people who like cake. Definitely, people who like cake.

The truth is it also feels like there’s never been a more important time for an event like commscamp. It feels as though it is really needed this year.  Against the backdrop of Brexit, cuts and rapid change there is a need for people to come together compare notes and work things out.

And yet

The phrase that runs through what I’ve done over the past seven or eight years is ‘militant optimism.’ At its heart is a resolve to do things better despite everything

At times, optimism takes a battering. A change of boss. Cuts. More cuts. Brexit. Change. New platforms. Keeping pace. The firm request for a back of bus ad you have to push back on. The easier thing would be to throw in the towel.

Why I think the magic is back

Planning an event like this is easier the more you do it. Writing emails to printers at 11pm when you haven’t seen your family all day is not ‘fun.’

But one moment this week made me think the magic was back. Late night I was looking down the session idea pitches in the Commscamp Facebook group.

  • Income generation. How do we?
  • Live streaming video. How should we?
  • If everyone is a comms expert how do I make my professional advice heard?
  • How can you stay politically restricted and still have a voice?
  • How can I put a cat amongst the pigeons?
  • Coping with guilt and reality post-cuts.
  • Virtual reality video: a beginners guide.
  • A cathartic session just to let rip a bit.

I want to go to them all. Reading them I was reminded why I love it. And I looked at the list of people who want to volunteer to make that happen.

If you can’t come you can still play a part

There’s a limited amount of room and we know that not everyone who wants to come can come. We’ll look to livestream some sessions, post to Twitter on the #commscamp16 hashtag and blog. If you are out of the room we’ll try and find a way you can catch-up.

But one thing makes it worthwhile

If there is one issue that makes commscamp this year really worth it for me it’s Brexit and how we cope with it. I’ve got this strong sense that there’s a strong sense of uncertainty that we would do well to tackle.

It would be great if we could tackle that together.

It feels like the magic is back.

Let’s make it so, shall we?

Commscamp is staged in Birmingham on Thursday July 14. Tickets are sold out.


Written by Dan Slee and first posted on comms2point0

Picture credit: Ann Kempster / Flickr

The commscamp cake table: The stuff of legends

CommsCamp has gone and got itself a bit of a reputation. It’s the biggest free unconference event for comms people in the country, if not the world, and for those attending if offers so much:-

  • A chance to meet likeminded folk, in the actual person
  • To share ideas, good practice and mistakes you’ve learnt from
  • To gain ideas, understanding and have light bulb moments
  • To know you’re not alone, there are others out there with the same frustrations as you
  • To meet our fabulous sponsors and find out how they can help you.

All of the above is a given, but for me, this is what really sets CommsCamp apart from the rest:-

  • It offers a top playlist, and at the end of the day you’ll happily leave knowing all of the words to Communication by 80’s pop sensation Spandau Ballet
  • There’s a naff end of camp raffle, and no matter how hard you try, you will be coveting the Best of Cliff Richard LP, and feel a sense of loss as some other lucky so and so wins it. I know the loss of a chipped Don’t Hassle the Hoff mug.
  • You can, and should, make a donation to charity and then feel good about yourself. Bring all the golden nuggets.
  • You can sit by the canal, feel its history and eat ice cream served out of a V Dub Campervan called Polly
  • There’s a drink and curry the night before, and a trip to a proper pub afterwards.
  • And on top of that your eyes will boggle, your tummy will rumble and you’ll embarrassingly drool at the CommsCamp Cake Table – all of which is a natural reaction, it’s the stuff of legends. It has already secured its place in history as The Best Cake Table in the World, EVER! I know this because this will be my fourth year as Official Cake Monitor.

My job is to encourage as many people as possible to bake cakes and bring them along on the day. It doesn’t have to be a show stopper, it can be a simple batch of fairy cakes, a tray bake or anything else which is easy to transport to Birmingham. On the side there is a fiercely fought battle for the Comms Camp Star Baker wooden spoon. The voting to decide the winner is seriously suspect, there was an aggressive online VOTE MINE campaign last year, but let’s be honest about it, it really comes down to the one me and Dan Slee enjoyed the most.  If you’re not a baker, then just nip to the shops, all cake is gratefully received.

But it’s not all about the baking, we then need selfless people to eat all this yummy cake. We ask those that can, to make a donation to charity, so please give generously. Just think how much you’d pay for a slice in one of those fancy coffee shops, and stick that in the bucket. This year the money will go to the Alzheimer’s Society, who have been a great support to my family as we watch someone we dearly love suffer from Mixed Dementia (Dementia and Alzheimer’s). In exchange for a donation we’ll give you a raffle ticket, and in the end of camp naff raffle that Cliff LP could be yours. The more donations, the more raffle tickets, the more chances you have.

So, happy baking, happy eating, happy CommsCamp16. See you on the 14th July.


Kate Bentham

Official Cake Monitor

jam sponge cake
Yummy jam sponge cake