GUEST POST: Steps to take to manage a team’s mental health and your own

The importance of good mental health has escaped nobody these past few years. Director of comms Kate Reynolds explains how she approaches looking after herself and her team.

When the going gets tough, how are you managing the mental health of your comms team?

Heart racing, adrenaline pumping, sweaty palms…an entirely normal, evolutionary and human response to extreme stress. But what happens when extreme stress becomes your day-to-day reality as you deal with multiple crises?

Many communications practitioners love the buzz of a good crisis – and I would absolutely place myself in that camp. When a crisis hits, it’s an opportunity to step up, use your skills and build unbreakable bonds with your team. But when there is a long spell of extreme stress, it begins to have a frazzling effect. Believe me, I’ve been there.

So what can you do when you’re feeling like Cruella DeVil in the meme above and how can you help your teams?

Be cognisant of your own mental health

As a leader, you have a long shadow. If you’re in a good place with your mental health, feeling balanced and calm, you’ll be in a much better place to support others so workout what you need to feel that way. I know I need a good night’s sleep and regular exercise, but it might be something else for you. Be a keen observer of your own state of mind, and you’ll be in a better position to support others.

Create a culture of openness around mental health

Thankfully any stigma around mental health is starting to dissipate, but we’re still not where we should be. As leaders of teams, the more we speak about mental health –  both generally and specifically our own – the more we create a healthy, open culture. I’m open with my team about my mental health, I feel closer to them as a result, and they feel they can trust me if they are having a hard time too.

Notice when you’re feeling those adrenaline/cortisol spikes

Get good at spotting when you are having a spike of stress hormones in response to something. It’ll mean you’re able to take positive action like deep breathing or going for a walk to help clear your head.

Notice when others are having a spike too

The more you notice those spikes in your own physiology, the more you’ll be able to notice them in others. If someone comes to me with an issue, and they’re speaking fast or are a bit breathless, I know they’re experiencing a spike. I try to slow my own breathing and speech to bring the pace of the conversation down and help them relax. I aim to move into coaching mode, making the person feel supported while helping them think openly about solutions. I wouldn’t claim to get it right 100% of the time, but the more I practice, the easier it becomes.

Get your structures right

It would be disingenuous to talk about the mental health of comms teams during crises without talking about the volume and nature of the work. Sometimes the volume of enquiries can feel like a flood and we can be exposed to awful, and quite frankly harrowing, situations. We often see the worst of things, but are also privileged to see the very best. Over my 20 year career, I’ve seen the media speed up and pressure on journalists increase dramatically which has led to greater demand on comms teams. There’s no perfect answer to this but ultimately your team’s health has to be your number one priority. As a leader, you need to continually be managing the expectations on your team, ensuring they are and feel valued and that you’ve got the right resource in place. A crisis reveals how well-functioning your structures, systems and processes are – or not. You know the saying ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’? Sometimes, in a crisis, it can feel like a marathon run at sprint pace. But you need to resource up so it becomes more like a 4 x 400m relay race, and people have a chance to switch off, recharge so they can come back refreshed to run their leg.

Encourage healthy boundaries

The next thing you can do is encourage and role model healthy boundaries. As far as possible, I try to work my hours without going wildly over. I don’t want my team seeing that to be in a senior role you have to regularly do 60-hour weeks, which is just not sustainable. Evidently in a crisis, you won’t be neatly clocking in at 9 and out at 5, but you need to draw boundaries that allow people to switch off. In a crisis that might mean creating an A team and a B team working in shifts so everyone gets some rest.

Celebrate successes

In a crisis it’s easy to forget to celebrate successes, but that’s exactly when you need to. Recognise and reward the good stuff, and move on from the things that haven’t gone as well – there’ll be plenty of time for analysis after the fact. Remind your team that they can handle anything that comes their way because of the resilience they’ve already built up.

Managing crisis communications is a tough gig but it’s also when you get the opportunity to really test your mettle, and it is entirely possible to come out of a crisis with enhanced skills and knowledge, and as a stronger, more resilient team.

If you want to read more on this subject, I highly recommend Chapter 7 of Crisis Communications Strategies by the brilliant Amanda Coleman.

Kate Reynolds is Director of Communications at Sanctuary, a housing and care provider.

GUEST POST: How I carried out research to play social media algorithms at their own game

Social media has been around for more than a decade and a lot of the tactics and strategies are getting a bit tired and dusty. Sheffield City Council digital channels lead Louise Gibson explains how she took a fresh look to improve what they do.

Social media is usually a key element in any communications plan. Getting the content right, in front of the right audiences and having the influence and impact you want isn’t necessarily simple.

I’ve worked on social media channels since their infancy. I love the instant connection with people that social can give you. The direct feedback from their engagement with content and the insight data which sits behind it all. You can see almost instantly if something is working or not and – crucially – can use your measurement and evaluation of that to change your future approach.

The trouble with social media

As social media becomes ever more complex, audiences more fragmented and algorithms determine who sees what and when, how do we navigate the increasingly choppy waters to get to smooth sailing (spot the fisherman’s granddaughter with sailing references!).

Add to the above that many of the non-comms people we all work with, including those in leadership roles, use social media and will generally have a view of the content you create and channels you should use.

It’s never been more important to use evidence-based practice when managing social media. You might not be able to make every post go viral (how many times have you been asked to do this) but you can make some practical and creative changes which will see improvements to social particularly in you keep up with the algorithms.


Social algorithms are essentially a set of rules and formulas which sort out which posts users see in their feed based upon relevance and popularity. The algorithms deliver content to users which are based on their interactions, likes and preferences.

Algorithms may also prioritise distribution based on the content type, for example, video trumping photos or posts with external links being deprioritised (the social platforms want you to stay on their site not go elsewhere!)

Knowing your way around algorithms is essential to get the most out of your social.

Small changes, big differences

At the end of 2021 I sat down with our Head of Communications and talked about how we could make improvements to our social media content. I’m not talking full-on strategies here, but quick wins; practical, simple changes we could quickly make to improve our content’s reach, impressions, positive engagement.

In short, and in basic terms, creating content that is good for audiences and works with social media algorithms so it’s shared more widely to the right people.

There were a number of objectives:

  • To generate less content – yes that’s right! Rather than place content on every core channel we would produce more focused content for channels and their audiences
  • To improve accessibility.
  • To work with the algorithms to gain better reach/impressions with target audiences.
  • Increase engagement and positive comments.
  • Improve the call to action take-up.

The approach

Step one – benchmarking

I lead on digital channel development for the organisation and I’m a self-confessed geek especially around analytics, insights and business intelligence data.

So, that’s where I headed first. Start with looking at how your content is working for you now. Establish a baseline to work from in your future evaluation around engagement, reach, impressions and sentiment.

Understand where your current best practice lies and what doesn’t work so well.

I reviewed our core social channels looking at what our audiences were (and were not) responding to taking into account channel context and in particular the following:

  • Content type
  • Time/date of posting
  • Frequency of posting
  • Language used
  • Accessibility
  • Length of post text
  • Hashtags
  • Type of content – topic
  • Audience for each channel

Step two – external research

Research social media best practice.

Okay, I know, this is huge but there are some great resources out there. The key here is to have a starting point, mine was algorithms. Social media distribution is determined by highly sophisticated algorithms. Channels rarely give detailed insight into the priorities of those but it’s always worth subscribing to updates from senior members of those organisations for when they do.

Organisations heavily involved in social media do a great deal of research into algorithms and provide useful information, take a look at people like Hootsuite, HubSpot, Brandwatch as an easy place to start.

I’d looked through a lot of research data and then was fortunate to attend Dan Slee’s Essential Comms Skills training which also covers the importance of algorithms and algo friendly content. I had a lot of evidence around algorithm friendly content to apply.

Step three – collating the evidence

Using the business intelligence and qualitative data and the external research I was able to plot out some general good practice points around what would work for us. Sometimes our data didn’t match the external, for example around most effective times to post, so I selected the most effective for our organisation with a view to ongoing evaluation.

Step four – a one page of guidance

I put together a really simple one page guidance sheet for each channel that included:

  • Each channel’s audience (age, gender, average time spent on channel, % of our city population using)
  • Types of messages to use each channel for, e.g. Twitter; news, crisis comms, alerts, campaigns which use story telling via video or threads
  • Most engaged with content types on the channel
  • Text – optimum character length
  • Video – when to use, optimum video length, optimum format, direct uploads
  • Accessibility – emojis, hashtags, plain language, alt text etc
  • Type of images to use
  • Optimum times to post

Step five – implementation

I’ve led an informal, peer social media group which we created in January with representatives from the two teams posting to our channels. The group uses the guidance sheets as the baseline for quality assurance of all social content.

This can include working with teams to be more focused in channel choice, tweak content, suggest completely new creatives, look at jumping on relevant trending topics and much more.

The service work with algorithm-friendly, audience focused content at top-of-mind when developing social content in a more structured way than before. Having guidance and a structure has enabled a more creative approach to content planning and production.


Since the new process began in January we’ve seen some interesting results, some of which we hadn’t expected, some we’d aimed for:


We’ve vastly improved accessible content. On a personal note, I’m deaf and a huge advocate for accessible content, particularly as I experience barriers to that daily on social media. I’ve done a lot of CPD around accessibility in my own time and this was invaluable in supporting the service around these improvements.

Improving accessibility is a whole series of blog posts in itself but I’d recommend some quick reading at Planning, creating and publishing accessible social media campaigns – GCS ( and Accessible Social to get you started or to brush up your knowledge.

Team members have commented that they have learned a lot and, importantly, we’ve had feedback from disability groups about our content being more accessible. As social platforms improve accessibility features expect good accessibility to be a core consideration for algorithm distribution as well.

Engagement and volume of posts

We’ve seen a steady increase in engagement rates across all core channels whilst reducing the overall volume of posts. There has been increased positive interaction, including comments and higher click-through where a link is provided.

Impressions and reach

Ok I know this is a bit of a vanity metric but it’s been helpful in showing us that our content has been seen more and – since January – significantly more than it was before. We’re reaching more accounts than we did before making the changes.


We’ve seen a marked month on month increase of follower numbers across all accounts.


There are always improvements to be made and continuous monitoring, measuring and evaluation will inform that. Networks shift algorithm priorities quickly (think about Meta, who, relatively recently, changed algorithm priority from Stories to Reels on Instagram in response to TikTok), so keeping informed of those updates is crucial.

This might all sound like a lot of work (and it was) but it was pulled together really quickly and the positive results following implementation were very quickly realised. It’s time well-invested and saves resources later.

However your social media content is managed it’s always worth looking at the evidence and research you hold, internally and externally, and think about how you can tweak your approach to get better results.

Louise Gibson is the digital channels lead at Sheffield City Council. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

VIDEO STAR: Why the Redbridge Council TikTok remix works

A council has caused a bit of a stir by introducing their new chief executive on TikTok.

Claire Symonds was introduced on the platform with a 15-second clip of her walking through a  door in the civic building.

So far so normal, but the kicker was the comms team used TikTok’s remix culture to use an alternative sound that someone else had posted.

“This week, a hot new bombshell enters the villa,” the voiceover originally from TV’s Love Island confides as the new civil leader walks in slow motion gently tossing her hair. “I’m Mabel, I’m 25, I’m a singer from London,” the TV soundtrack continues. It’s not, of course. But that’s the joke.

The clip has been seen 63,000 times which is far greater than the hundreds of views other clips have attracted.

It also led to a constructive debate in the Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group. One person criticised the film saying it added nothing to an understanding of what the chief exec was going to do. There was no message, no substance and no call to action. It was narcissistic, they alleged.

I don’t subscribe to that point of view but I absolutely do think this is a debate worth having.

It’s important to note thatsuch debate is often played out far away from TikTok itself. See the clip on Facebook and it jars slightly because that’s not what Facebook is about. Facebook has long been about original content rather than re-using existing sounds or video. That’s a challenge its tryingand failing to square with Reels their TikTok clone.

On TikTok itself, there’s nothing really that leftfield about seeing the Redbridge Council chief exec clip as it scrolls through your timeline.

Toronto FC have also used the sound to make a video announcing a new signing. So have Nottingham Forest, the True Ford chain and 56,000 other TikTok users. Using a sound that’s getting a lot of attention is certainly one way to reach more people.

TikTok is about tapping into remix culture, taking a clip or a meme and repurposing it.

Remix culture, sometimes read-write culture, is a term describing a society that allows and encourages derivative works by combining or editing existing materials to produce a new creative work or product.

Remix Culture Wikipedia

Overall, using the clip to announce the new chief exec was a bold move but what does it say? On a basic level, that the incomer was a woman and was prepared to try new ideas  at the very least.

But no call to action?

For me, one of my regular criticisms of public sector social media is that there is far too much call to action. Social is about conversation, discussion, listening and sometimes providing content that wasn’t all about a call to action. Some channels are nothing but parade of hectoring asking people to stop doing this and sign-up for that. It is the mix that makes it work.

The cute police dog attracts a bigger audience to the police channel so that when the 14-year-old goes missing there’s a larger audience prepared to act on the missing person alert.

The farmer who talks about her job shatters the idea that farming is all old men, for example.

The debate is not about a chief executive but how social media should be used. For me, it should reflect the tone of the channel.

Is all Redbridge Council’s content this bold? Not at all.

Will they have attracted more people to their channel making this clip? Absolutely.

Is this approach fine for everything? Of course not.   

When social media first emerged more than a decade and a half ago it upended conventional thinking. It’s a breath of fresh air that a new platform is making us challenge what we believe in.  

That’s not changed.

SOCIAL NUMBERS: How Generation Z are using social media in the UK in 2022

The internet has changed everything and the pandemic has put its foot on the accelerator for those changes.

True in so many places but also true in how young people in the UK have consumed social media.

Birmingham agency Beatfreeks along with National Youth Trends and Be Internet Citizen have published some really useful data in their Social Snapshot report. Based on more than 1,000 responses this shows what Generation Z – that’s 16 to 25 year olds – think.

Yes, it’s everywhere

99 per cent of Generation Z use social media. If you want to talk to them, that’s one place to find them. While they’re users they’re not always enthusiastic users. 40 per cent could live in a world without social media.

Weekly it’s YouTube

One of the areas of divergence is between daily and weekly platform use. The most popular channel used weekly is YouTube on 91 per cent leading Instagram (81 per cent) and TikTok (78 per cent). Snapchat is 4th with 72 per cent and Facebook comes in 5th with 71 per cent.

Yes, Snapchat is still a thing. If you were a teenager you’d know this.

Daily it’s an Insta v TikTok battle

Look at the data for the channel most used daily, then Instagram on 48 per cent is just three per cent ahead of TikTok. That’s a big change compared to just a couple of years ago when Instagram was the clear market leader. Clearly, something is happening with TikTok.

They’re not in the public marketplace of social

Dannah Boyd in ‘It’s Complicated’ spoke of how young people use social in the same way that older people used the landline. Basically, talk to your friend on the landline in the hall and if parents came in change the conversation.

WhatsApp is the leader with 85 per cent but frustratingly they don’y count Messenger.

A wider group of messenging channels all have around a quarter. That includes Signal, Telegram, Discord and Twitch.

They’re not in the public marketplace of early social, they’re in dark social spaces.

What they’ll share and what they’re happy about

Motivational, entertaining and informative messages get shared.

Just over half – 53 per cent – make a connection on social media they wouldn’t have done in real life during the pandemic.

Social media for young people is a mixed thing.

More than half seek alternative views in their timeline.

As we’ve seen, 40 per cent can live without social media while 30 per cent can’t live without it. That’s not an overwhelming vote in favour but more of a pragmatic mix.

Social Snapshot is available to download from Beetfreaks.

SIMPLE STEPS: How to start to answer a media query

I accidentally killed a sacred cow this week.

For years I’ve agreed with the view that everyone thinks they can do comms.

The librarian with the clip-art poster because they think they can do comms.

The director asking for drone footage because they think they can do comms.

The transport officer’s website knocked up because they think they can comms.

They all think they can do it from design to writing and they’re almost always wrong.

But it dawned on me the one thing all the self-appointed battalion of experts will run from is to answer the phone to a journalist.

I’ve also come to realise that it’s also the one thing that most PR and comms people will really dread.

During training, it’s clear that this is one thing that fills people will fear.

Let me share something with you, the strategy is simple.

First, ask their name, who they work for, what their question is and what their deadline is.

If they’re pressing you for information immediately they’re just doing their job but you don’t have to answer. Check it out first.

Your organisation has maybe thousands of people making tens of thousands of decisions a day. There’s no way you know what’s happening everywhere. You are not omnipotent.

So the answer to them: ‘I don’t know, I’ll find out’ is a reasonable one. Keep repeating it if you need to.

Once you know this strategy, it becomes easier and you’ll become more confident in doing the hardest task in comms and PR.

For more information about ESSENTIAL MEDIA SKILLS I deliver training head here.

SUMMER TIME: And here is your deckchair reading and listening

Summer is almost here and the time is right for relaxing in deckchairs. If you can.

This week, I’ve crowdsourced some ideas for books and podcasts to dive into while you’re catching the rays.

So, You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is Jon Ronson’s book that traces back to early incidents where the internet shamed an individual. What makes one person curl up in shame? Or makes another person be shameless. It’s a fascinating book.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Ever wondered why people are more likely to believe things in bold? Or we assume good looking people are more competent. Recommended by Kirstie McDonald Buckley.

British Scandal is a history podcast with Alice Levine and Matt Ford that retraces over incidents from the past from Lord Lucan to Litvinenko. Recommended by Ghazala Begum.

Humour, Seriously: Why Humour is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (and how anyone can harness it. Even you). Easy to read and with practical pointers about creating opportunity for joy and levity at work. Recommended by Lisa Potter.

Tremors in the Blood: Murder, Obsession and the Birth of the Lie Detector is an audiobook of crime being solved by San Fransisco police. Lovely escapism. Recommended by Ben Whitehouse.

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier tells the story of the rise of the photo platform based on a forensic study and dozens of interviews. Recommended by Carolyne Mitchell.

Museum social media, TikTok and Engaging Gen Z. A thoroughly engaging one-off podcast with Abby Bird the marketing manager of the Black Country Living Museum on how she built the museum’s TikTok world-famous reputation.

How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners-Lee. Sustainability a good place to start. Recommended by Claire-Melia-Tomkins.

Panic as Man Burns Crumpets: The Vanishing World of the Local Journalist by Roger Lytollis. If you’ve ever, ever spent time working for or reading the local rag you will love this more than crisps. Recommended by Sharon Dunbar.

The Joy of Small Things by Hannah Jane Parkinson. It’s a place to go for light hearted relief. Recommended by David Grindlay.

Don’t Tell Me The Score podcast. What sport can teach you about life. Lovely escapism. Recommended by Kirsty Groundwater.

The Coming Storm podcast. The story of QAnon on the face of it is primed to be a chance to laugh at gullible people. At some point your smile will fall as you realise they’re not joking and the story isn’t over.

Enjoy. Thanks to everyone who chipped in with an idea.

NEWS NOW: News deserts and what it means for communicators

Sometime in 2006, a fed-up former Financial Times journalist egged on by a bottle of red wine wrote a seminal blog post about how things were stuffed up.

The post ‘Die Press Release! Die! Die! Die!’ by journalist Tom Foremski bitterly complained about being sent words from press officers when links, pictures and video were what he needed.

Reading it, articulated a powerful sense that the the old model was broken. The mudslide of the internet was here and was about to bury everything in its path and there has to be a better way.

The newspaper I used to work for, the Express & Star was once the largest regional paper in the UK. An executive told the paper’s first website manager that the internet was ‘a fad, like CB radio’ and would soon be over. Today, that newspaper employs half a dozen journalists where once it employed 50 and both its printing presses are closed. Printing now takes place 30 miles away.

So, to the research piece Local News Deserts in the UK: What Effect is the Decline in the Provision of Local News and information having on community carried out by the Charitable Journalism Project is welcome.

This 40-page document drills into seven areas of England and Wales where a once dominant title has declined in influence. It ran focus groups and interviews to gauge directly what people think. It’s findings are fascinating reading for those interested in journalism but also for communications people, too.     

Here are 5 of the findings

Local news is social media and Facebook groups

People don’t head to the news stand the next day when something happens. They head to social media that minute and in particular Facebook groups.

I’ve spent the last five years researching Facebook groups and this finding is strongly echoed in my research. This may well chime with your own experience, too. Local to me, the planning application to build homes in the nearby nature reserve led to a Facebook group with 10,000 members in six weeks. It ended with the application being thrown out and the offending parcel of land being bought back.

Even when the click is through to a local news site the eyeballs that makes the click are in local Facebook groups.

But local social media can be divisive

Different opinions can play out harshly online in local groups, the report found. Disinformation is present online leaving less trust in the Facebook groups that exist. Interestingly, new contender Nextdoor emerges as being a more trusted platform as there is a higher bar for people have to verify their identity.

This is certainly the case in my own experience. Some Facebook groups are well run and don’t tolerate abuse and others aren’t. That’s even before the debate starts.

A lack of local news is damaging to the community and democracy

Without the third party oversight of a journalist, the cut and pasted corporate message is reprinted without examination. The feedback of the report is that this can be identified. In two of the seven areas there was an imminent re-organisation in local government boundaries that hadn’t reached several people who took part in the study. But this lack of scrutiny of all parts of the public sector doesn’t leave people with an untarnished view. Their starting point is that if they think the council is crap, one respondent said, and they hear nothing to the contrary their opinion won’t change.   

The report found evidence of democratic disenchantment where there is no reporting on what the council is doing.

What local news there is is often obscured by clickbait

The local issue is often not covered and what is, the report says, is often sensational with clickbait headlines. That’s certainly my experience. A title often will post at least 20 times a day online but a minority will be news stories from that area.  

What people want is to be local

Newspapers have closed, newsrooms have either closed or moved out of town. What’s wanted, the report says, is a locally-based trusted professional news service. This is a thorny subject. Without the local newspaper there will be a note of scepticism at what gets sent out.

This underlines the importance of something like a Facebook Live with a guest being provided for a broadcast by a newspaper.


The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. The statement misapplied to George Bernard Shaw defines the issue of every age. It’s especially relevant today.

If the local news landscape is a thinly stretched journalist scouring Facebook groups for stories to write before reposting the finished work into Facebook groups then that’s the landscape we have to work with.

In Stafford in the 1990s, a reporter from each of the Stafford Newsletter, Stafford Post, Express & Star and Sentinel would gather in the police station for the daily briefing before sloping off to a nearby café for an off-diary cup of coffee. Three of the four don’t have a presence in the town now.

As communicators we have to respond to the reality rather than the past.  

Having your own channels is essential as is knowing where people are congregating online. The arrows and the data point to creating content and sharing it in those groups. But you’ve heard me say this before.

Local News Deserts in the UK: What Effect is the Decline in the Provision of Local News and information having on community carried out by the Charitable Journalism Project.

APP STATS: UK social media statistics for 2022

Here you go, I’ve crunched the UK social media numbers for 2022 so you don’t have to.

Ofcom have published their online nation report and there’s a stack of use full stuff in there. The data that I use most often is around UK social media use.

I’ve created this image that summarises the UK data for 2022 as well as the minutes per day spent on each platform.

UK social media stats 2022

Leading numbers

Leading the pack is Facebook & Messenger. The ever-resilient platform is the most popular in the UK with 46.8 million users which is the equivalent of 68 per cent of the population. Periodically, there are campaigns against Facebook and often with good reason. Data would say they’ve not had much impact.

Frustratingly, the numbers in the Ofcom survey don’t differentiate between the main Facebook platform and the messenging service Messenger.

In second place is YouTube, used by 65 per cent of the UK population. It’s worth noting that some surveys such as YouGov put this platform far lower.

WhatsApp comes in fourth place used by a robust 59.8 per cent of the population and Instagram on 52.9 per cent of the population. Twitter comes in 5th with just over 40 per cent of the UK population using it. LinkedIn is next in line with 27.4 per cent use just ahead of Pinterest.

TikTok is maintaining its growth with 15.3 million users and a fifth of the population using it beating Snapchat used by 17 per cent and Nextdoor are consolidating growth doubling in size to 9.2 million users (13.4 per cent of the population.)

Time spent

Users is one thing but time spent on the channel is fascinating. Facebook leads the way with users spending 29.7 minutes a day but only just. TikTok is breathing down its neck with 25.3 minutes per user per day.

In third place, Snapchat are 20.9 minutes while Twitter attracts users at just over 10 minutes a day. Instagram are at around nine minutes with Pinterest, Nextdoor and LinkedIn are all around a minute a day.

The data comes from Ofcom’s Online Nations 2022 data.

CAKE COMMS: Reflecting on where the magic is at an unconference

At some point as a kid I called round for my childhood friends and we played out for the last time although we didn’t know it.

At some point I won’t be involved in commscamp anymore and it’ll all be a fond memory. Until then I value every time I’m involved in one.

I’m glad to say that there is still a demand for the event which puts people in a room and just lets them get on with it.

At the first round of #commscampnorth ticket release for Bradford on October 13 the 40 tickets went in two minutes. Like a big online frenzy they were gone before they were properly even here. There were people both praising their fast broadband and others cursing being stuck on a coach.

The second ticket release on June 14 at 4pm will be twice as big with 80 tickets up for grabs.

That’s the mecahnics of it.

If you want to be in a room with real people who also do your job and know what you’re up against then do try and come. You’ll be very welcome. If you’re not sure what happens at an unconference I’ve added an explanation ‘How does it work?’ here.

What an unconference does

In really simple terms, an unconference puts people into a big room and lets them get on with it.

Everybody in the room is on the same level because job titles are left at the door. So, a junior marketing assistant has just as much right to put their hand up as a veteran comms director.

I’m not overstating it to say that going to my first unconference blew the top of my head off and made me change how I think and do things.

We are not attendees at an unconference, we are all participants and that’s where the magic is.

I’ll be happy when I see someone I’ve not met before talking about something I’d never considered in a way that makes those around them think differently.

#commscampnorth in Bradford on October 13 is organised by a team of volunteers including David Grindlay, Emma Rodgers, Bridget Aherne, Josephine Graham, Kate Bentham, Kate Vogelsang, Leanne Hughes, Lucy Salvage and Sweyn Hunter.

GOOD IDEAS: TikTok’s own advice for shooting effective content

TikTok have published some useful advice for making content that’s worth paying attention to.

May’s ‘Creativity on TikTok: A Marketer’s Guide to Creating TikTok Ad Creative’ gives some good pointers to help you get your head around the platform.

Of course, the time-honoured advice is to spend at least a month getting to know the platform yourself. That’s hard to beat. Do that and you’ll work out what works and what doesn’t.

Once you’ve done that TikTok’s guidance will make even more sense.

What are the eight things that TikTok suggest?


Analysis I carried out a couple of years point to 16 seconds being optimum. The TikTok guide points for it to be even shorter. They now suggest for ads between nine and 12-seconds which calls for briefer narrative arcs.


Be briefer!


Have a clear user friendly narrative through your video, TikTok suggest.

So, @poppycooks ‘What is the fuss about this chip shop?’ sets it out clearly. So does historian @jdraperlondon ‘When was a monarch last assassinated.’ As does Isle of Man Police ‘Why white helmets?’ is in response to a comment that poses the very question.

By doing so you set out exactly what your viewer will get.

Stimulate senses

Grab attention with editing techniques, they suggest. TikTok’s own camera has a range of editing tricks you can use with 40 per cent of the most watched content being made directly on the app itself.


They suggest to think about the role sound will play from the start. This makes sense as trending music can be a way of reaching a wider audience. Watch one clip with an attention-grabbing sound clip and people will often scroll through more for compare or contrast. You are, therefore, rewarded for remixing existing content. This is a big difference from Facebook’s Reels which aim to beat TikTok on its own game.

Use captions and overlays, please set out the world. You can do this through picking out key messages and highlighting them as a piece of text.


Fill the screen, they say. That’s easier said than done. My old colleagues Express & Star photographers would be excellent at making each part of the picture visual and busy. Dead space was the enemy. That’s a good approach to take.

Go native

TikTok is a hugely democratic app. A lack of polish is encouraged and authenticity is at a premium. A glossy film just makes people suspicious n TikTok. So, your mobile phone is actually more powerful that a Ridley Scott commercial.  Use your device to edit using TikTok’s app.

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