commscampnorth: the walking train


We’ll run a walking train from both railway stations.

Look out for two volunteers who will be holding a foam finger and a copy of the commscampnorth logo airport arrivals lounge stylee.

At 9.10am on the morning of the event they’ll depart for the short walk to the venue.

There are two railway stations. We have Bradford Forster Square railway station at five minutes walk (postcode: BD1 4JB) and Bradford Interchange (postcode: BD1 1RX) which is an eight minutes walk away.

Bradford Interchange

For the Bradford Interchange walking train, head through the ticket barrier and down the stairs straight in front of you. We’ll be waiting at the bottom of the steps in the lower concourse.

Bradford Forster Square

For the Forster Square walking train, head past the ticket office and bear to the right. Walk past the lift and we’ll be hanging around the city centre exit, just before the slope up in front of the Midland Hotel.

Making your own way

If you will be making your own way from one of the stations, here are a couple of videos of the routes.

Questions? @commscampnorth on Twitter or or in the comments box here.

commscampnorth: the pre-event social


Commscampnorth would not be complete without a social ahead of the main event.

On the evening of 22.10.19 we will explore the finest sights Bradford has to offer.

It’s a chance to meet-up with old friends, meet some new people and have some curry and try out the beers and soft drinks in two of the city’s notable establishments.

From 5pm, we’ll be at Sunbridge Wells (postcode: BD1 1SD) which has entrances off Aldermanbury, Sunbridge Road, Millergate and Ivegate. See the Twitter video below for the simplest way in.

From 7pm, we’ll be at Jinnah Bradford for the finest curry in Yorkshire. The address is Leeds Road, BD1 5BL.

A big thank you to Albert Freeman for his insider knowledge in arranging the two venues.

To book a place at the curry head to the eventbrite to reserve a place.

There are several ways into Sunbridge Wells. Here’s a video of the way in most of you will probably want to use:

commscampnorth: Where to stay and how to get there

The Wool Exchange, Bradford.
The Wool Exchange, Bradford.

Your ticket has been secured and now you’re planning your trip to commscampnorth.

Firstly, well done.

You’ve got one of the hottest tickets of the year.

Secondly, crikey. A plan!

As you know, there’s a cake table at the event and we encourage attendees to either bake or bring along a shop-bought cake. You can buy back a slice of cake to keep your belly happy during the day, and all the proceeds go to our charity MacMillan Cancer. There is even a competition for Star Baker, so if you want to get all Bake Off on us then you can really go to town.

There’s a few other things, too.

On the day: The venue

We’ll be in Kala Sangam, St Peter’s House, 1 Forster Square, Bradford and if you’re navigating by satnav or Google maps the postcode you’ll need is BD1 4TY.

The building is the former town Post Office and stands by Bradford Cathedral near the Broadway shopping centre. Today, it is home to a thriving multicultural arts centre.

On the day: Timings

The venue will be open to the public at 9am on 23.10.19. We encourage you to get there as soon as you can so you can grab a cup of coffee and meet people ahead of the start of pitching at 10am. This is when we’ll chose which sessions we’ll run.

We’ll be done and dusted by 5.30pm.

On the day: Transport and rail and the walking train

There are two railway stations. We have Bradford Forster Square railway station at five minutes walk (postcode: BD1 4JB) and Bradford Interchange (postcode: BD1 1RX) which is eight minutes walk away.

From both, there will be a walking train which leaves at 9.10am. Look out for further instructions and the two volunteers holding the laminated commscampnorth logo airport-style.

For the Bradford Interchange walking train, head through the ticket barrier and down the stairs straight in front of you to the lower concourse. We’ll be waiting at the bottom of the steps.

For the Forster Square walking train, head past the ticket office and bear to the right, walking past the lift. We’ll be hanging around the city centre exit, just before the slope up in front of the Midland Hotel.

If you will be making your own way from one of the stations, here are a couple of videos of the routes.

On the day: Parking

If you’re driving, the best car park is The Broadway shopping centre from the the entrance off Hall Ings on the A6181. That’s £5 for the day. if you get there before 9.30am. You can also join the walking train at the Interchange if you are worried about getting lost.

The night before: Accomodation in Bradford

Bradford has no shortage of hotels in each reach of the city centre.

The organising team are heading to the two-star Ibis Budget hotel in Prince Court, 15-minutes walk away from the venue. More upmarket is the four-star Jury’s Inn in Thornton Road. The two-star New Beehive Inn in Westgate is 16-minutes away. The three-star Great Victoria Hotel in Bridge Street is 15-minutes away. The three star Holiday Inn in Vicar Lane is 10-minutes walk away.

For the best accommodation deals do head to trivago.

The night before: The pre-event social

We’ll be in the city centre for a trip to a pub and a curry.

From 5pm, we’ll be at Sunbridge Wells (postcode: BD1 1SD) which has entrances off Aldermanbury, Sunbridge Road, Millergate and Ivegate.

From 7pm, we’ll be at Jinnah Bradford for the finest curry in Yorkshire. The address is Leeds Road, BD1 5BL.

To book a place at the curry head to the eventbrite to reserve a place head here.

A place at the curry doesn’t mean a place at the event and yes, you’ll have to stump up for your curry and drinks, obvs.

There are several ways into Sunbridge Wells. Here’s a video of the way in most of you will probably want to use:

Pic credit: jonfarman / wikimedia commons



Sold out: We’ve switched the waitlist on, here’s how it works


We’ve been taken aback by the interest for commscampnorth in Bradford.

More than 150 tickets have been issued across three releases with each release being snapped up in around two minutes for the event on October 23.

If you’ve missed out…

Don’t worry.

We’ve switched on the waitlist which means you can add your name and details and if you’re in luck we’ll give you a window of 24-hours to claim a ticket.

You can join the waitlist right here. Hit the green register button and then hit the waitlist button and add your details.

If you can’t come…

Do let us know as soon as possible. Drop a line by email to, via Twitter to @commscamp or you can cancel via the ticket yourself via eventbrite.

It’s really, really, really important that you do let us know you can’t come because we can free-up your space for someone else.

Pic credit: Nigel Bishop


Commscampnorth faces: Q&A with CIPR Local Public Sector’s Mandy Pearse



This year #commscampnorth will be held in Bradford and we’re pleased to be joined by the CIPR Public Sector who will be supporters of the event.

Mandy Pearse is chair of the body and is standing for President of the wider CIPR body. There are two candidates and you can find more about them here.

In the first of a series of Q&A posts we thought it a good idea to chat about where she thinks events like commscampnorth and commscamp fits into the wider landscape.

mandyQ: Commscamp is free and an unconference. What kind of role does this play for shaping the future of public sector comms?

A: I love having variety in events. As someone who started in market research and engagement unconferences are a great addition to the mix. I’m never convinced anyone wants to attend a conference to be talked at all day. I want people to be comfortable to be candid about what didn’t work and how they fixed it. You learn more that way. I’ve been calling as CIPR Chair, Council and Board member for greater engagement with members and to try different approaches. It’s one of the reasons I’m standing for President to get more for members especially those not based in or near London.

Q: What’s your public sector experience, Mandy?

I’ve spent over 20 years working in-house in local government. I’ve worked in rural districts, new towns, regional capitals and unitary city councils with a lot of partnership working with CCGs, acute health trusts, police and fire as well as working across tiers with town and parishes & county councils. I started out in engagement, research and marketing but then moved into corporate PR and public affairs. I’ve managed teams both big and small and supported a lot of solo practitioners.

More recently my work has focused on training PR folk as well as delivering basic comms skills for service managers and politicians. I also work as a consultant with senior leadership helping them to see the value PR adds and get it resources properly.

Q: Tell us how the CIPR can help.

A. One of the biggest benefits of being a CIPR member is the access to local events and learning sessions organised by the volunteers in the regions, nations and sectoral groups. The other key benefit is the access to  accredited learning (both training and qualifications) and a pathway through CPD to becoming Chartered. I want to put more resource and emphasis on these areas.

Q: You’re standing for election for President of the CIPR. What will you do for public sector comms people?

I have a vision and six pledges all with a detailed plan underneath on my blog page

I feel it’s all relevant to public sector but I’d really highlight the need to get CEOs to understand the value of PR, modernising to make access to training at a time and way that’s suitable for busy people who have family lives, more support for the volunteers which provides more local network and learning opportunities and the getting more for membership.

Q: What advice would you give to someone starting out in public sector comms?

Ask questions, read widely and never be afraid to ask for help from colleagues across the UK. We all come from different backgrounds and we need to continue to learn whatever level we are at as we work in a rapidly changing environment.

Q: What advice would you give to someone a bit jaded by the difficulties of public sector comms?

A: I can reassure people that the challenges are not all exclusive to the public sector. I have heard people in the third and private sector’s working in-house raise similar issues of not being able to get a seat at the top table, being just seen as tactical and not being given the support to really deliver. I’ve also heard agency and freelancers talk about the difficulties of getting clients to do think wider than just media and do proper evaluation. What is different is the financial pressure on the public sector. I’ve written about some of this for #Futureproof . However, the one thing I will say is you will never have such a diverse, fast paced, exciting environment where every day is new as working in the public sector.

Q: As you know, the sessions at commscampnorth will be chosen on the day. What’s the one topic you’d most like to see happen and that you would pitch?

A: My session would be on personal resilience. It’s far more than just talking about mental health. I want to look at the really practical things we can do to build the personal resilience of both ourselves and our teams. I have ideas on this having faced huge challenges in both my working and personal life.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge to public sector comms people? Brexit, a lack of budget or the pace of change?

A: The pace of change in our industry, the media landscape and in society is the big one for me. The public sector is known for its extraordinary creativity on minuscule budgets and Brexit is a moment in time but being flexible and adaptable to survive in the PR world is key. Artificial intelligence (AI) is already employed to write news by both Reuters and PA. Current estimates suggest in 5 years almost half of the activities we do will be capable of being done by AI. We have to skill up now and focus on the strategic bits and very human stuff like reputation, managing stakeholders and engagement.

Q: Lastly, and most importantly, what’s your favourite cake?

I’m a coffee and walnut fanatic.

Mandy Pearse can be found on Twitter @mandypearse and on LinkedIn here. You can also find the CIPR Local Public Sector group on Facebook and Twitter. You can find out more about the CIPR here.



9 pieces of good comms from Yorkshire


Commscampnorth is an event for public sector people wherever they come from.

It’s an unconference which means the agenda gets shaped on the day by attendees. It’s a formula that means bright ideas are shaped and connections are formed.

The 2019 event on 23.10.19 will take place in Bradford after being held in Manchester and Sheffield in previous years.

We thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the great communications that’s emerged from the broad acres of Yorkshire.

Who better to ask than some bright Yorkshire public sector people?

#1 Yorkshire is a name that resonates

The county name itself is a piece of communications, says Yorkshire Housing interim manager Hannah Jowett.

The place name inspires some things to be proud of.

“Yorkshire is an inspiring brand. Think majestic landscapes, thriving cities, cultural diversity and  culinary delights from Yorkshire Pudding to curry. It has Olympic and cycling heroes,  or cricket on a green. Yorkshire mixes ‘traditional’ England with modern progress to produce a  brand as authentic and friendly as its people.”


#2 A Yorkshire Tea campaign with Sean Bean on brand

Yorkshire is not just a place but a mindset and an approach to life that’s ‘proper’, web and creative services business partner at Doncaster Council Rob Jefferson says. He’s chosen the Sean Bean Yorkshire Tea campaign.

“It doesn’t get more Yorkshire than Yorkshire Tea, where they make ‘proper brews’. In their recruitment campaign, Sean Bean plays a member of HR inducting new staff to the company. Why does it work? It’s relatable, stirring and humorous, spilling out into the twitter replies too. My cup of tea.

#3 A video that seeks to break the mould

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s ‘My Mum, the Firefighter’ video selected by Siobhan Dransfield, marketing communications manager, Wakefield Council.

This is content that starts with the target of recruiting more female firefighters and then creates bespoke content that is targeted.  

“South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue have established themselves as creators of innovative, out-of-the-box comms.

“Their use of video in particular has been effective and ‘My firefighting mum’ was no exception.

“It’s a simple idea – children talking about what makes their mums great, followed by a moving montage of them with their firefighter mums. They deliberately avoided branding so it can be used by anyone – genius!”

#4 A charity with a human Yorkshire voice

NHS charity EyUp! was selected by Jude Tipper strategic communications lead, NHSD Digital.

It’s an approach that sidesteps the NHS branding template to be a bit more creative and human.

“EyUp! is an NHS charity that brings health and happiness to Yorkshire folk.

“The EyUp! brand uses a touch of local dialect to promote generosity for a local cause.

“It pays for the sort of stuff our NHS can’t always afford – the bobby dazzler ideas that make a proper difference.”


#5 A hashtag to celebrate community volunteers

The photo campaign with the hashtag #floodheroes led by Calderdale Council working with the Environment Agency was chosen by Defra communications specialist Catherine Seal. 

The images highlighted vital work in improving how the community was preparing against future flooding three years on from the 2015 Boxing Day floods.

“Not only was this an effective way of encouraging more people to prepare for wetter weather & do their bit to protect their properties – it was also celebratory of the amazing community spirit in the valley & a way for organisations to thank them.”myth

#6 Making visitors to Yorkshire welcome

A hashtag that started in the county and then snowballed has been chosen by Georgia Unsworth, senior communications officer at NHSX.

The #WeAreInternational hashtag that began in Sheffield seeks to celebrate difference.

“#WeAreInternational. Established by the University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union, it celebrates diverse university communities and the benefits they bring. It’s all about loud, proud messaging and content – supported by an army of stakeholders. In these divisive times, a campaign that celebrates unity and inclusivity couldn’t be more welcome.”


#7 Barnsley Council’s straight fly-tipping campaign

Direct content and a direct approach have impressed South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s Alex Mills.

“Yorkshire folk are known for being straight talking and bold- which is why I loved Barnsley Council’s #EverybodyThinkcampaign to cut fly tipping in the town.   From a publicity stunt where they dumped rubbish on the steps of the town hall, to using video of fly tippers vans getting seized and crushed the comms and marketing team thought big, showed bravery and delivered a campaign which packed a punch.”


#8 a risque calendar that helped upend attitudes

A group of women who posed nude to raise money showed spark and spirit and changed attitudes says inCommunities Housing’s Caroline Chapman.

“My quintessential comms is the Calendar Girls. With a simple rethink of an existing idea they raised over £5 million pounds, revitalized the image of the WI and inspired a film and a musical. They remind us to be brave, be creative, don’t be afraid to ask and have fun.”


#9 West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership get 45,000 people to look out for their neighbours.

The ‘Looking Out For Our Neighbours’ social marketing campaign saw the NHS and councils team-up to get people looking out for each other, says Karen Coleman comms and engagement lead at the NHS’s Harrogate CCG.

“As demand for health care increases, we need to see more people in their communities driving community change. There was an opportunity to create a Partnership campaign – the first of its kind – and make a positive impact.”



Picture credit:

Yorkshire landscape: Tim Green / Flickr

Ribblehead Viaduct: AndrewBone / Flickr

#commscampnorth: Why Bradford?

Having been to both the Commscamp North events in Manchester and Sheffield, I’m am now helping to bring this fantastic public sector comms event to Bradford, a place with much to offer.

The Bradford District is one of the largest local authority areas in England with one of the fastest growing economies. Over 537,000 people live in the varied and diverse Bradford District and Bradford is one of the youngest cities in Europe. 29% of its population is under 20 and nearly a quarter is under 16.

As well as the city of Bradford, the district includes several popular towns and villages and large beautiful rural areas with lovely countryside. Among the district’s towns and villages are the World Heritage village of Saltaire, and Haworth, which gave the world the Brontë sisters.

Saltaire, a World Heritage Village

The world’s first City of Film

In 2009 Bradford was named the world’s first UNESCO City of Film. You might be surprised just how many films or TV programmes have been filmed in the Bradford District. To name just a few, Peaky Blinders, Downton Abbey, The King’s Speech, The Railway Children, Emmerdale, Funny Cow, Gentleman Jack, Billy Liar, Victoria, Official Secrets and Coronation Street have all used settings in the Bradford District as filming locations. Continue reading #commscampnorth: Why Bradford?

Unconferences for public sector comms people