In a field, in Dorset

Commsunplugged is an event like no other. That’s not PR fluff, but fact. It’s not for profit and it’s organised by a collective of brilliant minds from the public sector. It delivers a super balance of professional learning, short camping break, copious coffee, great food and lovely company in the gorgeous scenery of The Isle of Purbeck. What’s not to love?

And that’s where I spent last Friday. In a field, in Dorset.

There’s a need among many comms professionals for time to reflect, to recharge, to realign and connect with others. This was the second year of Commsunplugged and I have attended both years on a day pass. There’s no WiFi and only a patchy phone signal which helps with the whole ethos of unplugging and not tweeting the event.

Great event for public sector communicators

What I love most about the event is that it’s focussed on public and third sector communicators. I know from both working in the public sector before creating my own business and now working on public or third sector projects, that these communication teams get continually knocked and buffeted by politics, economics and competing priorities.

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Gathered in the tent, listening intently

They rarely get time to go to events and focus on their own development and needs. And most events rarely provide the full mind, body and soul refresh that Commsunplugged gives you. It’s a blast of fresh air in your lungs, new connections for your soul and great content for your mind.

Inspiring content

We heard from Sam Hodges, Twitter’s UK Head of Comms and his journey to his current role through the BBC and ITV, and how the social media giant finds its place in the comms world.

I joined one of the workshops with David McIntosh, Chief Executive, Christchurch and East Dorset Councils. He talked about the future of comms leadership in uncertain times.  Like most councils big changes are happening in these councils and David’s perspective as a leader was really insightful about change and bringing your people along with you on the journey. There were other speakers on the Thursday and activities like stargazing in the evenings that I couldn’t be there for. I heard others regaling stories and I had a serious sense of missing out, especially when I realised I had to leave before the alpacas arrived…

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Not a Dorset Alpaca, but a Photo by Greg Lippert on Unsplash

Whole self professional development

From a professional development perspective, the event was inspired. It mixed everything that maxed out comms professionals needed. Space and time to think, share ideas and challenges with others (who are often in very similar situations) be inspired by great stories from high level speakers and even gaze at the stars, try their hands at mixology and learn some yoga.

In internal communication and human resources we talk a lot of people being authentic and more ‘human’ at work, about bringing your whole self to your work so you can be better, more content, more successful. If we really want to do that we need to provide the opportunities for them to share their passions and interests, and be themselves.

Commsunplugged provides all the ingredients for great communicators to take their whole selves to an event. You can talk openly, and leave the elevator pitch, dress code and powerpoint behind. We can all take a leaf out of this event’s book and take it back into the office.

I’ll be back, and next time I need to take a tent.

@ktmarlow

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