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Comms Hero is coming to London

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

Opinion: A different kind of housing conference Opinion: A different kind of housing conference

By Carli Harper-Penman, chair of London Comms Hero 

I’ve been watching ‘Scandal’ recently. A lot of it. For some reason it wasn’t on my radar when it first aired in the UK. Which is unusual, because as a devotee of Sky Atlantic, and all that orbits it, I really should have noticed it. 

Anyway, I’ve had some catching up to do. And with some time on my hands (enabled in part by post-wedding/honeymoon nesting and in part by recovery from tonsillitis), I’ve indulged in a binge on seasons one and two. Now, it’s a bit trashy I grant you, but it’s great escapist TV, and it’s got to be the only drama in recent times that casts a professional communicator and lobbyist as the hero of the hour. 

Talking to a colleague in the office recently, she remarked about how she’d like to be Scandal’s fast talking protagonist, Olivia Pope or at least have her wardrobe. Now I’m a bit older, so I’m more West Wing than Scandal, taking my inspiration from Josh Lyman or C J Cregg, but the comment got me thinking about the role that communicators play, and the expectations are organisations have of us. 

Now I’ve had to deal with some pretty challenging situations during my career, but fortunately, unlike Olivia Pope, I’ve never had to move a body, or clean up a crime scene. My chief executive is uber reasonable and media savvy (hi boss!), and so it’s unlikely I’d ever have to dig her out of too many holes. But there is a pressure to have all of the answers. To have a flawless lobbying strategy that would make Josh Lyman weep with joy; or a story to tell the world that would have the Newsroom’s Will McAvoy jabbing his finger in righteous indignation.

But let’s face it: we’re not all Olivia Pope, Will McAvoy or Josh Lyman. Well, we might be some of the time, but none of us have all of the answers, and nor should we expect to have them all of the time. Great communication is about listening and learning and being open to new ways of thinking – every bit as much as it is about having a killer sound bite. 

And that’s why events like Comms Hero are important. Comms Hero is the brainchild of the lovely people at Resource who wanted to give communications people a more informal space to come together to share our experiences, collaborate and celebrate what we do. 

There are some great training courses out there for people working in our industry – and I’m not knocking them for a second – but sometimes I just want to hear from someone who’s lived it – to talk in practical terms about the challenges and opportunities we face every day. And Comms Hero promises to do just that. I’ve been afforded the huge honour of chairing the London event, and the line-up is pretty darn impressive. You can read more about it here: http://www.commshero.com/ 

But if you want to hear from your peers about how they handled a crisis, what made their social media campaign successful, or come along to share ideas you could do a lot worse than investing a day of your time in Comms Hero.

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