As part of an ongoing series, we’re blogging a mix of new faces and old faces you may see at commscampnorth.
This is Christine Townsend who had a eureka moment at an unconference and gave in being a public sector comms person to found MusterPoint. This platform has now blossemed into a one stop shop for your social media, internal communication, media handling and public information management.
Hello, Christine. What’s your background?
I was a public sector communicator and prior to that, a national news journalist.
I worked in policing primarily and also did some work with the Dept. of Health, Ministry of Justice and worked on a lot of big events such as Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a few major incidents and some really challenging campaigns around young offenders institutes, the sugar tax and fracking.
I was also a volunteer police officer for a number of years. I’m now the founder and CEO of MusterPoint – a communications management dashboard for the public sector.
Have you been to commscamp before?
I have and it’s lots of fun – I’ve been a few times and it’s always been a worthwhile trip. I’m always amazed at the enthusiasm that people muster – pardon the pun – despite constantly working under difficult conditions in the public sector. It’s heartening to see. I always come away with too many good ideas.
Can you tell us about MusterPoint?
MusterPoint has been on the go now for five years and helps public sector comms teams and internal stakeholders within organisations manage communications. It’s a one stop shop for all types of engagement and includes social media for campaigns, media monitoring, archiving and emergency management. I wanted something that was all in one place that helped me when I was part of a very small team have oversight of all that was being said about and to our organisation. We had a lot of extra legal requirements to comply with and so I wanted to ensure this was taken care of in addition to enabling full internal collaboration.
Is it true you got the idea at an unconference?
Yes it was – there were lots of people saying that there wasn’t really a tool fit for the public sector as it’s such a unique comms environment, that I scribbled something out on a piece of paper and wondered if it would be possible. I was kind of fed up with paying for six different tools that we were locked into long contracts for and wanted something that was a lot more affordable that did what I needed it to do.
Why does this work for Public Sector people?
It takes into consideration the things that aren’t a necessity for private sector – archiving, audit trails, accountability, legal compliance. The logging of media contact and decision making during a campaign or crisis response is absolutely vital. Why shouldn’t it be easy to do and all in once place. I would say that the public sector and emergency services have a higher number of people on call, on shifts and across a wide area – some don’t even meet on a regular basis. This enables that clear overview to see what everyone has done at any time day or night.
What session would you pitch at commscampnorth?
How can we beat the procurement system to find tools that are fit for purpose – regardless of how little it costs and how well – or not – the supplier fills in the the 2,384 page procurement application process.
What session would you like to see pitched?
The above. Or something around how do we professionalise comms in the public sector.
I’m fed up with really good communicators not valuing themselves enough because other people don’t. I was once given a press release written by a police officer with no comms experience. When I asked him if I could have the keys to his van so I could arrest a few people, he was a bit shocked that I would suggest I could do his job. After that he did a short stint in comms and it totally changed his outlook on how absolutely vital *good* communications is.
Victoria sponge or battenburg?
A bit of Battenburg is always better. Mind you, I’m the sort of person that peels marzipan from wedding cakes and hides the unnecessary fruit bit in plant pots.
You can find Christine Townsend via the @muster_point Twitter account where you can find out more about the platform and discuss with her the finer points of Battenburg cake.