Hints, tips and help
Don’t look back in anger - why you need to bring OASIS to the table
Last summer the new-look FirePRO Committee launched a sector-wide survey to understand, amongst many other things, what people wanted to improve on.
As a group we exist to support fire service communicators – we can’t do that without knowing what everyone’s challenges and priorities are. That’s why it was vital we included a question in the survey that asked what teams would like to do better.
Perhaps unsurprisingly we got a wide range of answers. There was one key theme, though, that seemed to crop up in pretty much every response…
The struggle to find time to think creatively and deliver well-planned work – thanks to huge workloads and an endless supply of urgent and reactive tasks – is clearly very real.
That too is perhaps unsurprising and, whilst I’m sure isn’t just limited to fire and rescue services, the survey findings were corroborated by attendees at our conference in November. People have everything they need to deliver but can’t, not for lack of trying, get off the hamster wheel.
So how do we solve the problem?
Saying no to unnecessary and impromptu work might be the first part of the solution, but that’s not everything, and it’s not always that simple – particularly in hierarchical organisations.
My fellow committee member Pete has also written, in his newsletter, about streamlining some of his team’s processes. That forms another part of the solution.
But I think if we truly want to crack the issue we need to take the advice of Alex Aiken, Executive Director of Government Communication, and bring OASIS to the table.
He’s not talking about the band – but about the campaigns planning model that suggests all campaigns, and indeed wider communication work, should take a step by step approach and work through five key stages:
- Audience Insight
- Scoring & Evaluation.
Following this model doesn’t have to be onerous or time-consuming. In South Yorkshire we work through it in around an hour. It’s simple and it can be applied to pretty much everything we do as communicators.
Perhaps more importantly, though, is that it’s hard to argue with. There’s no need to say no to a poster request, prompting a civil war in the process, when you can measure it up against the OASIS model instead.
So rather than refusing that random leaflet request, or just doing it anyway to save hassle, bring OASIS to the table. Who are we giving the leaflet to? What do we know about that audience – would they pay attention to a leaflet? And, whilst we’re at it, what’s the objective?
And if colleagues from other departments can’t answer those questions, that’s fine. It’s our job to help them and we owe it to ourselves, our teams and the public to do just that.
Jack Grasby – SYFR Campaigns Manager & FirePRO Vice-Chair
What a tool - Trello
My team look after a wide range of work. We get roped into everything from intranet redesigns, to email marketing strategies, to video production and social media campaigns. There are a lot of moving parts. Sound familiar?
The stress of keeping track
None of us are superhuman (well, maybe a couple of you), so remembering all the details, updates, deadlines and schedules can feel impossible - sometimes just trying to keep track of everything that’s going on can double your stress levels before you even think about how your going to get any of it done (i’m hoping this doesn’t sound familiar, but I’m pretty sure it does).
Early on in my career I started looking for tools to help manage the amount of info us comms professionals have to juggle; Note pads, post-it notes, dictaphones, memory palaces… Then one day I was introduced to Trello, and it has changed my life.
The ultimate to-do lists
Trello is basically a project management tool that lets you create the ultimate to-do lists. You can set up a Trello Board however it suits you or your team. In my team we use Trello Boards to track the progress of developments on our website, video production projects and collaborating on news content for our intranet etc. But most importantly we use Trello to list and track the progress of our individual work tasks.
For me personally this means as long as I add it to Trello it will get done. I can add as much detail as I like: images, documents and copy. And I can set reminders that come to me as an email, or a message on my phone. Trello has become my more reliable (searchable, taggable, shareable) memory.
This guy uses Trello in a similar way me for my day to day, and helpfully he’s made a video about it:
Great for management
As a manager, using Trello means I can dip into my team’s Trello boards to check progress of actions, add new actions or even add images or documents I think would be useful for their work. It also means if someone comes over needing an ‘urgent update for the [insert important name here] any of the team can give an update - obviously that never happens though...
You can assign items on a Trello Board to your team members, tag different actions as part of one project - so you can view the actions for only one project at a time, or all the actions for everything, add deadlines and much, much more.
Gov.uk have written about how they use Trello here.
Not the only one
For me Trello takes away that nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something and gives me the ultimately satisfying feeling of moving a card from ‘to-do’ to ‘done’. But it’s not the only tool that can do this.
Monday.com gets pretty good reviews
Asana has been used by some big corporations for some time
Digital Communications Manager at London Fire Brigade
Ideas, everywhere: find all the creative inspiration you’ll ever need in two minutes
“It’s as true today as it always was - he who seeks beauty will find it.” Bill Cunningham, American photographer
Watch this video.
Any creative ideas in there? You sure?
What about those amazing tree outlines against the blue sky?
Using bus advertising for your marketing.
The soaring plane scrapping its trail in the sky (could be writing a campaign message?)
The simple use of icons and colours on the road signs to impart meaning.
The range of different fonts for the shops on the black sign – and what they all represent.
Vegan tuna. I mean, VEGAN TUNA.
It’s easy to believe this level of creative inspiration requires travel to far-flung rainforests or beaches, or six years in art school.
Nah. It’s right outside your front door. Literally.
So, the next time someone walks into your office and asks for your “comms inspiration/magic/stardust”, don’t sit and gnash your teeth, while muttering something about barely having enough time to sneeze.
Step out of the front door of your building and walk for two minutes.
And look. No, really look. And listen. And smell. Wake your senses up to everything around you and open up a world of ideas, everywhere.
Treat yourself. Take a two-minute creativity tour.
Ordinary + extra attention = the extraordinary
If it’s our job to be creative, then we need to be able to see things others don’t. Spot the difference. Connect the unconnected.
Someone drew the dots between flat-pack furniture and heavy grime. And ice cream and pensions. And Jason Donovan and chocolate.
And fire comms teams are similarly brilliant at taking inspiration from everywhere – songs, wildlife, films.
When we take the time to pay more attention to what we see (or hear, or smell) we can make extraordinary discoveries and connections.
It’s often claimed that time is the biggest killer of creativity. Take an ideas, everywhere mindset and time becomes an irrelevance. You’ll be bombarded by inspiration 24/7.
That’s whether you’re stuck in traffic (“my fuel’s nearly in the red – that’s an interesting metaphor for a push on mental health”), on the coffee run (“everyone takes their coffee/tea a different way - could tap into this for our recruitment campaign”) or just scrolling through your Insta feed (“black and white works really well for capturing emotion”).
No special equipment needed. No away days. No budget. Just you and your senses.
Creativity is right outside. Just take a longer look.
- We’d love to see the results of your two-minute creativity tours. Hit us up @alivewithideas or #IdeasEverywhere with your inspiration or if you could just do with a bit of extra creativity in your corner.