My morning at the launch of Communicatto Academy

One of the biggest struggles I have had has been with digital communication has been showcasing just what digital communication is. It's big - and it is part of every marketing push, communications exercise, or an organization's way to build a relationship with its customers or supporters.

It's not just being on platforms: it's a method and means to which people can engage. Fundamentally, it's about people.

It's why I appreciated being able to join Doug Lacombe and Scott Payne for the launch of their group's latest project: Communicatto Academy (the slidedeck the pair created for their presentation can be found at the link). As a person who enjoys being in the digital space it was good to hear from them the way they address the latest trends and challenges, and the tools they're using for clients across North America.

They started off with a very clear metaphor - the Flight Manual. The way they wove together tools, tips, and strategy into a singular effort to showcase the integration of strategy into the work that any digital creator needs to do in order to have a degree of success in communicating their message. As a tool, it brought together multiple pieces of a journey any organization needs to go on to build towards a product to put in front of a consumer.

It's a good concept and provides a framework to walk clients and those seeking in buy-in for your work.

One of the larger struggles I've found for pushing digital in an organization has been the broad based buy-in from supervisors and supporters. In order to get budgets within an organization there is a clear need for individuals to understand the work you're doing. Then, of course, the core metrics to showcase that it's working.

Doug's and Scott's is a systems approach, with the tools and abilities of the the digital team that pulls it together into a final product. To phrase it another way, it's about strategy first, with the platforms or personality being the way that you implement that strategy.

Of note, I really appreciated three core take-aways from the session.

Firstly, there was a discussion amongst the participants on the subject of brand ambassadors. These are the individuals who are the loudest champions of your brand or product. And a substantial piece of the discussion was on the concept of giving social permission to these ambassadors to take your social products (posts, videos, and more) to branch out to the larger audience you're seeking to engage with.

Part of this was de-risking that engagement with brand ambassadors. Between creating a solid social media policy, building trust within the organization, and having tools put in place to empower folks, it's a way to have that engagement, having that building of brand, and, ultimately, creating digital for impact into a community.

Secondly, the mini-seminar on creating personas (also known as "buyer personas" in marketing-speak) was very useful. As someone who knew of personas for targeting political ads and policies, I've always had the pleasure of having the buyer persona be pre-built by pollsters, constituent groups, and long-standing efforts from campaigns I've inherited from other communicators. In the years I've worked in digital, I've never actually had to sit down and create a persona for targeting of sales or purchase decisions.

It's a technique I had benefited from, but going through the larger class discussion and involvement on building those personas was incredibly useful. It also was an affirmation of how I viewed the strategy and targeting of materials in the digital space.

Finally, I truly enjoyed the personable nature of the presentations and the culture of the space that Doug and Scott were creating. Networking through the event, I bumped into five or six people I met during my time during community outreach, and was able to finally meet some of the folks I followed online in person. (It's always good to finally put a face to a twitter profile.)

As a side note, Doug and Scott have opened up their Academy by offering free registration to any out of work communicators in Calgary. You can read up on the multiple dates they're offering here. I recommend their sessions heartily and would encourage folks thinking about entering into the industry or wanting to spice up their collection of skills to join on in.

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