Some comms rules of the road

I’ve been travelling around a bit recently which has inspired me to rewatch what is probably one of the best films ever made – Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Released before Christmas in 1987 it stars John Candy and the legendary Steve Martin (whose autobiography is also a fantastic read) trying desperately to get back to Chicago for thanksgiving, against the odds and all the various gods of public transport. Continue reading


10 comms tips from an NHS Chief exec

hipstamaticphoto-538589198.326329As a communications professional what is it your chief executive really wants from you?

That’s exactly the question posed at the latest NHS Provider comms network and luckily there was a senior leader on hand to offer some advice.

David Bradley, chef executive of South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust offered a detailed insight into what those in the top job are looking for from their senior communicators. Continue reading

Nine comms lessons from the #UnAwards masterclass


Last year more than 400 public sector comms teams applied to win an award for their work supporting organisations to connect with their publics and achieve their objectives.

Only a handful would be successful and win an UnAward which are designed as a no-fluff, anti-corporate recognition scheme for the best work and to act as something of an antidote to the unusual glittering, mainstream ceremonies.

Some of the winners met in Birmingham to look through the anatomy of a successful communications team and share some of the campaigns and pieces of work that had been celebrated. Continue reading

Lessons from the stoics


“As I glide down toward that little town on my short parachute ride, I’m just about to learn how negligible is my control over my station in life.

“It’s not all up to me. I’m going right now from being the leader of a hundred-plus pilots and a thousand men to being the object of contempt.

“I can hear shouting and pistol shots and whining bullets ripping my parachute canopy and see the fists waving in the street below as my chute hooks a tree but deposits me on the ground in good shape. With two quick-release fastener flips I’m free of the parachute and immediately gang tackled by ten or fifteen town roughnecks I had seen in my peripheral vision, pounding up the road from my right”

It’s 9 September 1965 and seconds earlier Commander James B Stockdale’s A-4 Skyhawk jet had been shot down over North Vietnam. He would spend the next seven and a half years as a prisoner of war at the infamous Hanoi Hilton suffering torture and solitary confinement in appalling conditions. Continue reading

8 tips for NHS comms in 2018

You know when a baby wakes you at 4am every morning of it’s life so you don’t set an unnecessary alarm for the one day of the year when you need to be on the 6:30am train to London?

Well, you can guess what happened next and the slapstick, desperate race to the station ensured that I made it onto the long commute with literally seconds to spare.

Despite this the sweaty indignity was well worth it to catch the latest NHS Providers Communications leads network session which featured Daniel Reynolds, Stephen Waddington, Claire Riley and Darren Caveney. There was some excellent advice and discussion but here are my key takes for NHS Comms folks: Continue reading

10 comms lessons from 2017

IMNR7857As we collectively polish off the last of the After Eights, think about starting that new fitness regime and contemplate the sheer horror of Dry January, looking back over the past 12 months is often a very timely distraction.

It’s always interesting to take a look back and see the key themes from the year and try to understand  the most popular topics. Looking at the most read posts on this blog during 2017 gives me a sense that many of us are facing the same challenges and seeking the answers to many similar problems. Continue reading

Nine leadership lessons for communicators


Over time it seems that the term ‘leadership’ has become part of the jargon of middle management that infuriates so many comms people and leaves many thinking of a po-faced Ian Fletcher from W1A. However we shouldn’t make this mistake because if you look closely at every organisation you’ve worked in the difference between good and bad performance is so often to do with leadership.

Certainly when you look across the NHS and the Public sector more generally the most successful organisations are the ones that are really well led. Continue reading