Crowdsourcing and hacking: communities are doing it for themselves

Crowdsourcing and hacking: communities are doing it for themselves

Four founders talk about the difference that their communities are making to communications and public relations in the UK. futurepr

Groups of individuals have created communities in the last two years to challenge traditional structures, thinking and practice in public relations.

Practitioners from digital, SEO and technology have introduced an enlightened culture of crowdsourcing and hacking.

Community is a much abused term but these groups are the real thing. They're built around a common purpose typically to address a single issue.

#PRtack is a good example. It developed to characterise tools and workflow. It’s now an app, a book and meet-up events.

People join communities through common motivation and vision. Competitors work together. Job titles and background are irrelevant. Energy, engagement and contribution are what counts.

They're democratic and self-organise using technology. They learn quickly and frequently have an impressive output thanks to cooperation and shared responsibility.

I caught up with the founders of four public relations communities in the UK and talked to them about their vision, activity and how other practitioners can get involved.

  • comms2point0: public relations thinking and doing in public service
  • FuturePR: future proofing public relations
  • IC Crowd: connecting internal communications
  • PRresolution: where public relations meets search

dan-sleecomms2point0: public relations thinking and doing in public service

Dan Slee @danslee

There’s plenty of sharing and collaboration in public relations and communications. Stacks of it in fact and it's been going on for years.

Where is it? It's in the public sector. public relations in the public sector is hard work. There's no budgets. There's a barrage of things you need to tell people and you are getting shot at from all sides.

Everyone in the public sector really is in it together. They don't mind sharing because we’re not competitive like Coke vs Pepsi. They don't mind experimenting.

Myself and Darren Caveney founded comms2point0 four years ago as a place where communications people could share ideas and take inspiration.

The social web was new and the establishment wasn't getting it so we built our own community. Not just for communications people but for web developers, police officers, chief executives and policy officers too.

It began as a blog and six links every working day tweeted via @comms2point0 on Twitter. The website has evolved with more than 700 posts and case studies of learning and advice from 200+ contributors.

When people started to ask for training, communication reviews and advice it morphed into a thriving business and is now my job. Darren plays a key strategic role outside of a busy national head of communications.

But we keep the ethos of sharing. We continue to take inspiration from outside public relations.

At a recent event we heard police officers talk about how they are using Periscope not just to broadcast messages from the chief constable but updates live from major incidents and even police pursuits.

That's amazing.

We also run a range of events - from video skills workshops to campaign masterclasses.

We're also in our third year helping organise CommsCamp. More than 150 public sector communications people will come to Birmingham on 9 July for an unconference where the agenda gets decided on the day by the attendees.

It's all run by volunteers and sponsors fund the costs. Job titles are left at the door and there will be senior people from the UK Government on the same footing as a junior NHS marketing officer who is filled with bright ideas.

We provide the organisation, facilitation, space and raise the required sponsorship and let other people spark off each other. Do drop by.

ZKyRKKRa_400x400FuturePR: future proofing public relations

Charlotte Winslett @c_winslett

FuturePR is an open-minded, lively group of public relations people who are keen to bring about change in the public relations profession through collaboration and co-creation.

The movement started as an event.

I wanted to bring together like-minded individuals of my own age to talk about the future of their profession.

My boss Gem Griffiths, founder and managing director of The Crowd&I, talks passionately about the changes in the profession and I felt others would like to hear more about how things are changing so they could future proof their careers.

The event generated lots of noise on twitter (we trended and beat Coronation Street), which was a clear indication that there is an appetite for a public relations community that looks to the future not the past.

We’re a long way from solving all the challenges that public relations faces but we bring people of all levels and ages together on a regular basis for unpretentious, straight talking conversations about the future.

Stephen Waddington’s #PRstack community was born out of a conversation people had at a #FuturePR event.

We hold events, regular meet-ups and the @_futurePR Twitter handle gets passed around different public relations people so they can share their views with the community.

We’re holding hack day on 23 July at 2pm in London Bridge and have summer drinks planned at Kings Cross to celebrate #FuturePR’s first birthday.

We’d love you to join us.

dana-leesonIC Crowd: connecting internal communications

Dana Leeson @danaleeson

The IC Crowd is a community for people in the internal communications sector to connect and communicate.

Created by communications professionals Jenni Wheller, Rachel Miller and Dana Leeson, the IC Crowd launched in September 2012 and quickly grew to be a place to get short top-line answers to queries, or to point you in the right direction.

There are lots of brilliant people involved in the IC Crowd; specialising in and with experience of a variety of areas including change, social media, intranets, stakeholder relationships, branding, events, employee engagement, strategy and union relations.

If you have a query about anything related to corporate, digital or internal communications, simply tweet @theICcrowd at the start of your message to ask a question. The community will provide a range of suggestions.

Since we started in 2012 we’ve held three Christmas drinks in London, created a range of information sheets and have organised two very successful unconferences called the big yak.

2015 has been a bit quieter for the team, but look for an announcement soon as Jenni and Dana have been planning a few things to ensure that the latter half of this year will be going out in communications style.

stellabaylesPRresolution: where public relations meets search

Stella Bayles @StellaBayles

The Resolution is a coalition movement led by the team at

Our purpose is to develop the public relation industry digitally and make the lives of public relations professionals better.

We aim to that this by building technology and hacks to automate process and free up time for the important stuff.

We want to share our knowledge in SEO and digital marketing from previous roles and connect with like-minded individuals to problem-solve.

The team behind CoverageBook and the Resolution blog are former public relations and SEO strategy directors and developers from search agency Propellernet.

After ten years building a services business, our entrepreneurial genes craved the challenge of building products.

We stormed the search market by merging SEO with public relations and now we want to give back.

We believe that this approach solves many of the measurement issues the public relations industry faces and presents a huge opportunity for financial growth.

We want to share that message.

We’re about to launch a video series on The Resolution called ‘There is no stupid question’.

We want to encourage everyone to have the confidence to ask those digital questions we might be worried about asking.

Tweet or email us anonymously your digital public relations questions. We’re looking for topics for our first videos in July.

You can see me speak about Public Relations Measurement at the next TechMap event in July.

Meanwhile please sign-up for updates, events and tools and follow @PRresolution.

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#PRstack book available in print

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