My search for connection, collaboration and all other good things beginning with C has led me to create #CommsForGood.
When I try to explain what #CommsForGood is, it goes something like this: the belief that by putting generosity at the heart of corporate comms (banking or fintech, in my case) you can drive positive change – for your industry, your organisation, and ultimately the community in which you live.
In practice so far, this means connecting comms people in the industry in which I work, by inviting them to join me at events in support of a local cause. By doing so, I intend to build a powerful network of corporate comms people that collaborate with each other, support each other. An engaged network that is connected not only by a common industry, but also by the strong emotional bond of supporting the people in their community.
The first #CommsForGood event I hosted through my employer at the time, Temenos, was at Dimbleby Cancer Care’s World’s Greatest Quiz, and the blog I published on the Temenos site sums up the experience perfectly. There, a team of great communicators and collaborators from organisations including Metro Bank, Crossword Cybersecurity, Callcredit, Wilson Fletcher and Next Tech Girls became my first #CommsForGood champions.
Buzzing from the success of the quiz, I invited guests to join me at a very special reception with the Dimblebys and the Dean of Westminster at Westminster Abbey. Communicators from Starling Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bud became my next community champions – and it was an unforgettable night for all.
So why all this? Because cancer taught me the true meaning and value of connection through communication. Until then, like everyone else, I used these buzz words freely in my work, my life, but had never really experienced them.
With a cancer diagnosis, your life blows up and you have to start all over again. You are forced to build something new. Something different. So I started to follow and share my experience with the cancer charities that I hoped could help me and – guess what – I saw those familiar words again: connection, collaboration, community. This was exactly what I was looking for.
I tried engaging with all the charities, from the big famous brands to the small community charities. But it felt like the big brands with the big budgets were not listening; or if they were, they were too restricted by process to respond. It was the little guys that were tuned in and connected back.
When the more engaged charities responded, they encouraged me, they shared my story with their communities and encouraged them to share and respond in return. They connected me with other small charities too. And, in return, I did the same back. Thanks to a handful of tiny, local charities, communication and community led to connection, and this became the foundation of my new life.
But the moral here is not about cancer…
I started back to work in banking comms in January 2016 and was struck once again by how, in corporate comms and banking, it is so easy to speak and not listen. Following this experience with the cancer charities, I realised three things:
- Talking about connecting and collaborating is not the same as actually doing it. If a brand wants to be recognised, respected, have an impact, the organisation must actively build lasting, positive connections with its audience.
- For these connections to be truly valuable, genuinely supportive, and authentic, they must be founded on something more sustainable than commercial agenda.
- I wanted to meet other people in banking comms to see if they realised the same things and wanted to work with me to ensure that our organisations at least would be never be the ones who were too busy talking about ourselves to listen to others.
And then I thought…
But how do you connect with people in another business without seeming like you are selling something? Or looking like you are after a job?? What do we talk about? What could we collaborate over that would be positive and of benefit to everyone?
Well? This. Comms for Good. We collaborate and connect over the causes we care about.
My story is just one story of human connection and community, there are so many others. I want to us to work together to find other stories and I want us to share them through this network. And along the way we – as individuals and companies – can demonstrate the true meaning of…
Connection, collaboration, community.