All 143 past commscamp and commscampnorth sessions set out in a great big lovely list


There’s been a frankly staggering 143 sessions at the seven commscamp and commscampnorth events since they started.

Each one has lasted up to 45-minutes and has at times generated rather heated debate.

New ideas have been shaped.

Old ideas have been trashed.

If traditional events with slides are what someone thinks people want to hear of past achievements then the unconference is a chance to tackle what is next. There’s a space for both.

Since they started 800 attendees have come along, pitched a session, met new people, baked cakes and learned things.

But what would a list of all the sessions look like?

I thought it high time to look back at the sessions to see what they looked like. So here is that list.

What strikes me is that I’d love to have been to lots of the sessions on the list I never got chance to get to.

Who wouldn’t want to go to a session called: “How to avoid looking like a Nazi”?

I’ll bet the small team comms session was good but I think I caught the last 10 minutes.

Reading through makes me excited for the two events planned for 2018. If you are coming you can add to that.

How great is that?

A list of sessions

Here’s a snapshot of previous topics. The list has 2013 at the bottom and as time passes the most recent sessions are towards the top.

  • Income generation.
  • Dealing with viral social media posts.
  • How to live stream.
  • Comms and professionalism.
  • GDPR: WTF???
  • How to avoid looking like a nazi.
  • Media monitoring.
  • Creating a social calendar for staff.
  • Re-branding.
  • Non-profits seek public sector partners for love and comms.
  • Help and positive stories co-production, please.
  • Supporting non-comms to use social media.
  • Image banking
  • Data story telling.
  • Ideas for your next campaign.
  • Writing a design brief.
  • Applying games technology.
  • What have we learned about emergency comms this year?
  • Video and virtual reality.
  • Inclusive and accessible comms.
  • Team welfare.
  • Motive people to tell stories when change is all around them.
  • Place marketing.
  • Open data.
  • Facebook groups.
  • The press officer is dead long live the press officer.
  • How to make joint campaigns work
  • Therapy.
  • Blogging platforms and tips.
  • The skills and confidence to change sector.
  • Nudge.
  • How do we do our jobs ethically?
  • Middle manager comms.
  • We need to talk about transformation.
  • How to show colleagues how busy we are.
  • Elections group hug.
  • Photography top tips.
  • Employer engagement.
  • Agile and digital: what can we learn from it?
  • Tiny teams.
  • Social media in a crisis.
  • Customer segmentation: sharing best practice.
  • GCS: What it is and what it can do.
  • A get things off your chest session.
  • Social media resources and evaluation.
  • How to handle trolls.
  • Creating a culture of staff advocacy.
  • Infographics.
  • Digital collaboration.
  • Comms for budget consultation.
  • Evaluation and impact.
  • Legal and trolling.
  • Councils doing stupid things.
  • Kinder comms.
  • Social media and algorithms.
  • One person or small team support group.
  • Internal comms.
  • Change what you are facing at the moment.
  • Social media management.
  • Communicating across health and social care.
  • Engaging in a fractured landscape.
  • Reviewing internal comms.
  • Integrating social media.
  • Brexit and PR. Discuss.
  • Bullying.
  • Video comms.
  • Therapy.
  • Digital advertising.
  • Universities and other comms working together.
  • Comfortable communications.
  • How to manage comms in uncertain times.
  • Practical tips of prioritising.
  • Snapchat.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Saying ‘no’ to Twitter.
  • Comms and Pokemon Go.
  • What do you need to lead?
  • How are we doing?
  • Therapy.
  • Communicating with a single voice.
  • What are the big comms priorities?
  • ‘And another thing…’
  • How do we engage?
  • WhatsApp.
  • My intranet is worse than yours.
  • Video beyond YouTube.
  • Is Facebook dead?
  • Media law and comms.
  • DIY comms.
  • Innovative ways of listening to lesser heard services.
  • Failcamp. What failed and what I learned. Chatham House rule.
  • Instagram and the local community.
  • What would you do with £500,000 for a social media campaign?
  • Periscope? What is it for?
  • Influencing the top bosses.
  • Paid social media?
  • Comms planning.
  • Evaluation GCS performance framework.
  • 40,000 people to engage and no money to do it with.
  • Collaboration in crisis scenarios.
  • Online community management.
  • Legal advice.
  • To video or not video.
  • Environment Agency flooding comms tips.
  • Data visualisation.
  • How are we doing?
  • Nudge and behaviour change.
  • Should we be using new channels like Snapchat?
  • Doing the intranet with comms teams.
  • Making content work harder.
  • What digital skills do we need?
  • Content marketing?
  • Strategies for engaging.
  • Communicating with businesses.
  • Change Cambridge.
  • Online newsrooms.
  • How to transform internal comms.
  • Sharing creative campaigns.
  • Digital budgeting for policy.
  • Wikipedia.
  • CPD for comms.
  • Thunderclap and digital campaigns.
  • Working with the voluntary sector.
  • Geographical hashtags.
  • Working with the voluntary sector.
  • Any WordPress questions answered.
  • Networked culture change.
  • Twitter is pointless. Discuss.
  • Better strategic planning.
  • Are comms the blockers?
  • Social media listening and monitoring.
  • What can I do now my team has been slashed in half?
  • Managing comms risk.
  • Culture change.
  • Future comms.
  • Quick agile web user testing.
  • What we need isn’t a comms plan.
  • How to tame your dragon.
  • Lone comms people.
  • Change and your community.
  • Comms teams under stress.

Want to hear about commscamp and commscampnorth info and ticket releases? You can sign-up to the email list here.

Picture credit: Nigel Bishop.


content from #commscamp and #commscampnorth

cc hello

After every event we try and capture the best writing and content that emerged from the event.

This features ideas, video and images from our 2017 events.


VIDEO: Intros and pitches were streamed on Facebook Live by Steven Davies and Sophie Edwards. You can see this here.

BLOG: 20 Things I Learned at #commscamp by Steph Gray. Read more here.

BLOG: 11 Things I Have Learned from #commscamp by Christian Stortein. Read more here.

BLOG: What have we learned about emergencies in 2017? by Ben Proctor. Read more here.

BLOG: 10 Things I Have Learned from #commscamp by Paul Compton. Read more here.

BLOG: 23 Things and a Safety Net from #copmmscamp by Dan Slee. Read more here.

PICS: Pictures from commscamp taken by Nigel Bishop were posted to our Facebook group. See them here.

BLOG: We Are Alone Together by Dan Slee. Read more here.

VIDEO: The sessions were put together by Emma Rodgers and shot speeded-up in hyperlapse by Kelly Quigley-Hicks. Read more here.

VIDEO: A live streamed Periscope walk about of the commscamp venue and ice cream. See more here.


VIDEO: The video and virtual reality video session shot in virtual reality and posted to YouTube. Watch on your smartphone with a VR setting: See more here.

INSTAGRAM STORY: Kara Dudley’s story from her day. See more here.

BLOG: Handy election info for comms people by Kelly Quigley-Hicks. See more here.

BLOG: Celebrating great campaigns by Touch Design. See more here.

BLOG: Nudging and behevioural insights by Touch Design. See more here.

BLOG: Our cakes in the North by Ben Proctor. See more here.

BLOG: The wind in the website. UTM codes and Ben Proctor. See more here.

BLOG: My #commscampnorth by Joanne Rewcastle. Read more here.

Picture credit: Nigel Bishop, used with permission. 



#stuff4steph and why the commscamp cake table is important


by Kate Bentham

It’s very nearly CommsCamp, which coincidentally is the same day that it’s OK to eat cake for all your main meals and any snacks in between. You’ll like it. It’s like when you get to eat chocolate for breakfast on Christmas morning.

I’m lucky to have been Official Cake Monitor of the CommsCamp Cake Table since it started in 2013. For those who don’t know the situation with the cake table it is very simple: bake or buy a cake, eat cake, and chuck some money in the donation bucket for the cake you eat. The money raised goes to charity and you can feel good about all the cake you’ve eaten. Simple.

Over the years, the money donated for slices of cake has raised nearly £1,000, proof if proof were needed, that Comms people are lovely, kind, generous and massive fans of cake.

This year we want the cake table to be extra special. We’re holding this year’s cake table in memory of Steph Clarke, who died suddenly and unexpectedly at the end of last year.  Steph was a good ‘un, she was a thinker and a doer, she made positive things happen for communities and individuals. She once said ‘What do I do? I think, I make a difference, I give a fuck, and I’m really proud of that’.

In memory and tribute to Steph the hashtag #Stuff4Steph was established by Steph’s husband James and their family. #Stuff4Steph is about doing good…

It could be random acts of kindness, community spirited acts of goodness, time giving, volunteering, photographing beauty. Or it could be something as simple as holding a door, or smiling at someone in the street. We think she’d love this.

– James Clarke

Much of the vision of #Stuff4Steph fits with the ethos of CommsCamp, which is why with the backing of James, we want CommsCamp to forever support #Stuff4Steph. Together we will remember how fabulous Steph was, the work she did and the legacy she left behind.

Donations from this year’s cake table will go towards local charities which Steph, James and her family supported, so let’s make this the best year ever, bring your pennies and let’s do #Stuff4Steph.

Kate Bentham, or Cake Bentham as Dan Slee once introduced me as.

Official Cake Monitor

(Best job in the world)

Picture credit: Nigel Bishop / Flickr

commscamp… your one week to go countdown guide

888by Emma Rodgers

It really is not long now. There’s only one week to go until commscamp. We can’t wait.

If you can’t come, don’t worry. Follow the #commscamp hashtag and look out for Facebook Live streams for the pitching at 10am and through the day via our group here.
Here’s a reminder if you are coming along on Friday July 14.

What to do now…

If you can’t come let us know. Not everyone can get away and that’s fine. But do let us know.

Facebook, Twitter debate and discuss. We have a Facebook group here where people kick around ideas for sessions and we’re on Twitter @commscamp. Hashtag is #commscamp There have even been memes by Winston Churchill – yes you did read that right.

If you are in two minds about pitching a session… DO! If you want to talk about it, if there’s a problem that needs solving or if you think you’ve got some answers do it. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll get from it. Everyone is welcome to pitch and you will get lots of support, whoops and cheers. So go on push yourself out of that comfort zone. But no powerpoint. Okay?
BRING OR BAKE! Bring along a homemade cake for our cake table so brilliantly put together by the fantastic Kate Bentham. Each slice bought gets a raffle ticket where incredible prizes can be won. Like the best of Cliff Richard LP. Or a cat ornament. Bring a prize if you can’t bring a cake or even better bring both. Pre-loved stuff is fine.

The night before social. There’s a pre-camp social the night before that involves drinks and curry. We’ll be at the Anchor, Bradford St, from 6pm and Manzils, Digbeth at 8pm. You can sign up for a ticket here

So you need a place to stay. There’s a list of hotels on our website just in case. Take a look at some helpful information. There’s also a map on how to get there.

On the day…

Yes, there will be a walking train from New St and Moor St Stations. It’ll leave Birmingham New Street at 9am and we’re asking people to meet at Boots in the main concourse. You’ll see volunteers with a red foam hand and a commscamp sign. It’ll then swing by Moor Street at 9.15am and be at the Bond Company venue at 9.30am. Sarah Yates, Kelly Quigley-Hicks and James Allen are your helpful peeps to look out for.

Yes, there will be ice cream. We’ve booked a VW Camper ice cream van for the afternoon so clearly, there will be sunny skies.

You’re bringing your car. There is parking at the venue ONLY for blue badge holders – book in advance by emailing – and limited street parking but there are pay and display car parks a short walk away. There is a Google map here with car parks marked.
Registration is from 9am on Friday 14 July at The Bond Company, Fazeley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham and the event starts at 10am. Please try and get there by 9.30am. There will be tea and coffee.

At the end of the day. We should be all done by around 5.30pm and we’ll head along to The Old Crown in Digbeth High Street for those who’d like a quick wind-down.
Any questions, just ask.

This couldn’t happen without our lovely volunteers. Thanks to everyone who’s mucking in to make commscamp a success.

Big shout to our lovely sponsors and supporters: GOLD: GranicusTouch Design SILVER: Alive With Ideascomms2point0dxwDigital Action Plan from Helpful TechnologyUR Promotions. BRONZE: Council Advertising NetworkMusterPointPSCSFThe Satori Lab.

SUPPORTERS: FirePROGovernment Communications ServiceLGCommunications.

Creative commons credit: Paul Clarke / Flickr  


BLOG: Three things you need for #commscamp


by Dan Slee

If you’ve snagged a ticket for commscamp, well done. Now, there’s three things you need if you are coming to commscamp.

  • Ideas.
  • Cake.
  • Tat.

Let me explain.

The event is an unconference which means that the agenda is decided on the day by attendees.


There will be 30 sessions. ALL of the topics will be decided on the day. We need your ideas. A session can be on anything. A problem you are looking to crack. A problem you have cracked. You can float your ideas in our Facebook here.


We’d like you to bring a cake with you. Bake. It’s a tradition. Each slice is sold for a raffle ticket. At the end of the event we will stage a raffle. We’ll also give a prize for the best cake. Kate Bentham is back in her role as Chief Cake Monitor.


As one of the high points of the calendar, there will be a raffle prize draw. We need prizes. Pre-loved items are perfect. Brass band LPs? Royal Wedding mugs? In other words, tat. That’s perfect. Bring it along.

Big shout to our lovely sponsors and supporters: GOLD: GranicusTouch Design SILVER: Alive With Ideascomms2point0Digital Action Plan from Helpful TechnologyUR Promotions. BRONZE: Council Advertising NetworkMusterPointPSCSFThe Satori Lab. SUPPORTERS: FirePROGovernment Communications ServiceLGCommunications.     






BLOG: Why we need you to bake at #commscampnorth

CommsCamp16-118 (1)

by Kate Bentham

It’s the first ever CommsCampNorth, and for those who haven’t been to a CommsCamp before it’s my job, as Official Cake Monitor, to let you into a secret.

You may have thought that you have signed up to one of the biggest free unconference events for comms people in the country, if not the world, but actually, CommsCamp isn’t really about the comms, it’s all about the cake. There, I’ve said it.

I’ve been Official Cake Monitor since the first CommsCamp in Birmingham 2013 and delighted to be able to take the cake table on tour to Manchester for CommsCampNorth.

For those who haven’t been to a CommsCamp before, let me fill you in on the main points you will need to know about the cake table:

  • The cake table only works because of the lovely people who bake cakes and bring them along for others to share. If you can, please bake a cake. It’s amazing how conversations and networking improve with a bit of lemon drizzle.
  • If you do bake you will be entered into the CommsCamp Star Baker competition. It’s a fiercely fought contest with many underhand tactics trying to sway the judges, there’s no surprise in that, the prize is amazing.
  • If you’re not a cake baker, don’t worry, there’s no shame in bringing along a shop bought cake, we appreciate them too – although please don’t try and pass it off as one you’ve made. You may think that adding a bit of decoration, or taking it out of the packet and putting it into a tin will fool some but we’ll find out.
  • We also need cake eaters. We ask those that can, to make a donation to charity in return for a slice of yummy cake. Look out for the donation bucket on the cake table and please give generously. Just think how much you’d pay for a slice in one of those fancy coffee shops, and give it to a good cause instead.
  • If you donate for cake, be sure to take a raffle ticket. This will enter you into the end of camp naff raffle, where you will amaze yourself with a sudden desire to win a signed David Hasslehoff poster.
  • If you have similar unique prizes for the end of camp raffle then please bring them along. Think tatt, think naff, think car boot sale gold, that’s the sort of thing we’re looking for.
    As an experienced cake eater, my cake table tips include a visit to the gym the day before to help easy any guilt, wearing baggy or elasticated clothes, and bring the big coins to donate to charity.
  • And remember, scientists have proven that all cake calories consumed during a CommsCamp don’t count. Bonus.

So, happy baking, happy eating, happy CommsCampNorth. See you with your baked goods at the cake table on April 27 2017.

Unconferences for public sector comms people