a collection of firsts

No matter how many times you repeat something, the first time is always most memorable. Like the first time you heard your favourite song, the first time you sampled a new cuisine, the first time you smelt your favourite smell or, for me, my most memorable first; the first time I heard child #1’s heartbeat. There’s nothing quite like your first – and it stays with you forever.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about the topic of my first blog post. I’ve also been thinking about whether I should actually blog. Does the world really need another blog about communications? Is what I’m saying important enough to warrant a blog? Can I commit to it? Each time I thought I came close to answering these questions, something new appeared in my timeline making me question my answers. Making me question myself.

Late one night, I was sucked into reading the comments and blog posts that followed a Twitter poll about ‘how many is too many?’ – subconsciously, my intentions wavered. I left my incomplete post in my Notes and carried on as though it didn’t matter. Like it didn’t happen. But it did. And so did my promise to show up, to own my story.

And so, here I am updating what I had written.

Initially, my first blog post was about a recent career first – completing my first OASIS plan. I had planned to explain what it is (prove I know my stuff and all of that) but a quick online search throws back a host of blogs that talk you through it – the gov.uk website has a particular helpful section to guide you through the process.

Instead, I want to use this post to reflect on my learnings. To come back to in weeks and months and remind myself of what I’ve learnt now.

Don’t let the plan consume you

Covid has impacted communication teams and practitioners in many ways. Many have rarely had a chance to come up for air. For some, planning a piece of work properly is a luxury. It can easily become a welcome distraction from the chaos around us. Don’t let this happen to you. Give yourself a deadline for how long you want to spend on planning and stick to it.

Thinking is good. Over-thinking can end things before they ever get the chance to develop.

Don’t expect team members to meet you at the finish line

Remote working has impacted how we collaborate and work in teams. Many of us no longer have those random watercooler moments or over the desk chats. This means it’s even more important to work in sync, especially when you’re working towards the same goals and objectives.

Rather than working on a plan by yourself, spend some time talking through its components with your team members. Understand their pressures, ask whether the timeframes are doable – the last thing you want is to plan an amazing campaign only to find the creative won’t be ready until a fortnight after launch!

Be agile – don’t focus on a big bang launch

If Covid has taught me anything at all, it’s how to adjust a plan. In the last 6 months I, like many others, have spent a ridiculous amount of time tweaking content, amending snippets of text and hitting delete on signed off content. What’s happening around us, the guidance we’re following (here in the UK at least) is changing so frequently that sometimes the comms and campaign we have planned needs to be pulled.

Partway through this campaign, the UK government announced a second national lockdown nullifying some of our key messages. We pulled aspects of the campaign I had planned and shifted the focus of our messages and supporting assets. This was easier to do as the creative and copy was managed on a week-by-week basis rather than in advance of the entire campaign going live.

Focus on content that can be reused

I hate waste. Leftover food can be eaten the day after or shared out with others. Unworn clothes or items the kids have grown out of can be passed on or given to charities. Perfumes and skincare products I won’t use can also be shared with family and friends. Just like that, some of our comms items and creative assets can be used again. Yes, having unique creative designs per campaign is a joy but it’s a luxury many teams with small budgets do not have. Re-read the point above about pulling content – having content that isn’t time-specific makes it easier for you to reuse it when it’s appropriate and relevant.

I know the planning process can be daunting. Like the questions I first asked myself about blogging, planning a campaign can also make you question yourself, your ability and your knowledge. The only way you can really overcome this is by giving it a go…and that’s exactly what I’ve done!

Now all I need to do is share this and jobs a goodun.

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