by Josephine Graham @iojosy

I can’t exactly remember the first time I noticed #CommsHero. It was a couple of years ago, maybe slightly more. There I was, a peaceful citizen of the world of work-related social networking, wandering amiably along the streets of Twitter City, when I looked up and spotted a dazzling streak, way up high.

Was it a bird? Was it a meme? No, it was #CommsHero!

I watched in wonder as our champion zipped about the Twittersphere, anointing and applauding worthy #CommsHero types as it went.

Gosh, I pondered. How does one become accepted into this illustrious alliance?

It seemed like the coolest club in town, so I typed ‘aspiring #CommsHero’ into my Twitter biog and waited to see what might happen next…

OK, let’s pause there. Before anyone gets too excited, this story doesn’t continue with Christopher Reeve/Dean Cain/Henry Cavill (delete according to demographic) swooping down to rescue me from Lex Luthor just before he brainwashes me into producing tedious and unengaging comms.

Rather more prosaically, a few months later I saw a tweet about the 2018 #CommsHero event in Leeds, and resolved to get a ticket. (Easier said than done when you work in local government, but we’ll chat more about that another time.)  Lucky me, I live in Leeds, so at least I didn’t need to fill out a purchase req. for the bus fare.

I was super-excited about meeting my #CommsHeroes IRL (that’s In Real Life by the way) and that probably overshadowed how I felt about the speakers. I was looking forward to seeing the ‘Innocent lady’ (Helena Langdon), the crafty and creative Doncaster Council lot and the very lovely Helen Reynolds. To my very great shame I hadn’t actually heard of Grant Leboff (I’m not from a sales and marketing background, what can I say, I’M SORRY!)

I was blown away by how much the event exceeded my expectations. Hearing from Mr Leboff was worth the ticket price alone. The way he clarified what it actually means to engage, why we need to create content that has intrinsic value and just how much content is the right amount – I felt like someone had placed a tube in my ear, syphoning incredible insights directly into my brain. The number of times I have mentally referred back to that over the last year… well to be honest I wasn’t actually counting but it’s been quite a few.

Every speaker had something different to offer and I haven’t even mentioned all the fun stuff and freebies yet. The CommsHero guys go all out to make all the delegates feel special, with personalised swag and lots of super goodies including (last year at least) everyone’s favourite Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a crate full of Innocent smoothies.

So, yes, the event was pretty special, which is why I am going again this year. The #FOMO would have been too much to bear.

But before you rush off to get your ticket, or quietly congratulate yourself for already having yours, there is one more quick point to make.

Blogs are not marketing copy, they should be written from the heart. And when the #CommsHero 2019 event theme is authenticity, this is doubly important.

Over the last couple of years I’ve been maximising every learning experience I can get. I go to anything I can that’s free or local, and I’ll go further afield to connect with like-minded people. Working in cash-strapped local government, I pay for a lot of stuff myself.  I get involved, I contribute to the comms community and I have fun doing it. I’ve made good friends along the way and found that there are some really special people out there, who want to make our profession better, and make being part of our profession better for all of us working in it.

I admire the #CommsHero brand because it is supportive, celebratory, inclusive and genuine. What I know now, that I didn’t know when I first saw that heroic cape zooming across the digital sky, is that everyone can be a member of the club. You don’t need to go to the event (although I would recommend it!), or know a secret code, you just need to be authentically you, caring about what you do, doing your best to connect and share, and learning as you go along.

So if you are going to the event on 6 June I’ll see you there. In the meantime, I’m just going to practice wearing my cape.