“This is hands down the best comms event that has ever been created.”
“The most relaxed environment in which I have ever experienced work-related development.”
“It's no exaggeration to say Comms Unplugged has changed my life. It's broadened my horizons. It's got me networking and enjoying it. It's given me a confidence I didn't even realise I was lacking and I've made real friends.”
“This is very much a comms retreat - recharging, resetting and reminding us why we wanted to do this kind of job in the first place. That field really has been sprinkled with some kind of magic.”
“I think lots of the wellbeing activities will help with my anxiety. I even got a [new] job because I was so chilled at the interview.”
“The friendly atmosphere, the focus on wellbeing, the cake. Not like any other conference.”
“An instant connection with fellow comms people, they ‘got me’ straight away.”
“…such a good, unique, important event.”
“Brilliant sense of support and community”
“The people - I suffer from anxiety and was half excited for this and half terrified. I'm so proud of myself for going and for learning so much, couldn't have done it without the community even before the field! Just the best few days.”
“The organisers and attendees are warm and open. There is a real sense of care for each other.”
Wise Old Uncle
The ebullient Matt stepped in at super-late notice when we lost a speaker due to injury. Trading as Wise Old Uncle, he is a branding and positioning guru who typifies some of the exciting and creative work going on in Dorset.
He talks about using insight, developing new products and services and taking a content-led approach. He spent most of the night before his talk translating a PowerPoint presentation into hand-drawn flipchart graphics for our unplugged marquee setting - and we loved him!
Head of Communications, Twitter UK
We are super excited to welcome Twitter UK's Head of Communications, Sam Hodges, as our keynote speaker in 2018.
Sam's led UK Comms for Twitter since 2015, working closely with the company's San Francisco HQ.
Prior to this he was Head of Communications for BBC Television and has also held senior roles at ITV and Channel 4. A member of the PRCA, he features in PR Week's 2018 Power Book, a guide to the most influential and respected comms professionals in the UK today.
Editor/Head of News at the Daily Echo, Bournemouth
Never a dull moment with your local newspaper editor - especially this one!
With 35 years as a journalist under his belt, Andy has experienced first-hand the revolutionary changes to the news-gathering industry. Most of his career has been at the Echo, where he began as a reporter in 1983.
Keen to help develop tomorrow's journalists, he delivers the Public Administration module of Bournemouth University's BA in Multi-Media Journalism and is a director of the NCTJ, chairing the Journalism Qualifications Board.
He also takes part in media simulation and training for organisations like Public Health England, the MoD, the British Army and NATO. A self-confessed politics junkie, Andy was also a local councillor in his dim and distant past.
He's not afraid to get into a robust debate and has been known to be a bit trigger-happy on Twitter!
Non-Executive Director, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust and the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland
With many years of experience at a senior level with the police, Heather knows the importance of exuding confidence in the workplace
A champion for women in the police service and advocate of a supportive workplace for everyone.
Heather Baily has more than ten years of experience in senior executive positions in policing and in criminal justice roles. She spent much of her career in London in the Metropolitan Police Service as both a detective and a uniformed officer. She held senior management roles in training and as the borough commander for Hammersmith and Fulham before moving to Hertfordshire Constabulary as Assistant and later Deputy Chief Constable.
She is a passionate advocate of creating a supportive working environment for everyone and led a corporate health project in Hertfordshire to support officers and staff. She was the national co-ordinator for mentoring senior women in the service and was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in 2011 in recognition of her work in this field.
She is now a Non-Executive Director with Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust and with the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland.
Head of Corporate and Strategic Communications at NHS England
Bringing a public and private sector perspective on leading and maintaining focus
An experienced leader of communications and marketing teams across the public and private sector, Alex currently leads the Corporate and Programme Communications team at NHS England, shaping the overall message and tactics for communicating the transformation of the NHS.
He and his team manage channels including social media, web, video and graphics and also the NHS's annual event programme. This includes Innovation Expo, the largest healthcare event of the year, which attracts over 5000 delegates.
Alex previously worked at Boots UK in a variety of commercial and marketing roles including creating a new approach to marketing pharmacy services to the NHS.
He's also a former local councillor and led on housing and regeneration, including the demolition and rebuilding of 2,500 homes. He lives in Nottingham with his collection of bikes and running kit, along with his partner.
Creativity is vital for communicators - how do we reconnect and make the best use of it?
Philippa is a professional artist with over 20 years' experience in both creating and teaching art. She runs workshops and teaches online courses at 5ftinf.com and her vibrant imagery has attracted over 400,000 followers on her Instagram page.
She trained at RADA, has been Artist in Residence for Shakespeare's Globe theatre and has exhibited her work across the UK
Her new book, Conscious Creativity (due out later this year) invites us to look, connect and create, helping to unlock potential and bring natural flow and creativity into our lives. Philippa rejoices in the beauty of ordinary things, as her stunning photography beautifully illustrates.
A Brighton resident for over 15 years, she says she enjoys “writing lists, multi-tasking, Spaghetti Western soundtracks and sitting at the table, drinking tea and looking at things.”
Founder and Chief Conkerer - Conker Gin
Rupert will lead a discussion session on how doing something you love will re-ignite your passion for work and ensure your creativity is on fire!
Rupert gave up a successful but unfulfilling career as a chartered surveyor to set up his own business, doing something he knew he'd love.
Blogging his reflections on that huge leap of faith, Rupert wrote: “You need to dedicate the time to think beyond your day-to-day and re-teach yourself how to be creative and innovative. But those skills may be more buried than you think… The common theme running through the world's most successful people is their unrelenting creativity: their ability to unearth an idea that has value and bring it to reality. Everywhere I looked, I found two essential ingredients for effective creativity:
One: Embracing failure is part of the course of creativity and innovation
Two: You're most creative when pursuing the things that excite and inspire you.”
Rupert will lead a discussion session on how doing something you love will re-ignite your passion for work and help to distil your creativity to maximum strength and purity!
Creative Director, Alive With Ideas
Putting Creativity at the heart of your Internal Comms
Alan Oram brings the creative Midas Touch to Comms Unplugged! He's also a passionate advocate of excellent employee engagement. Together, those two components will guarantee you a hugely worthwhile workshop session.
Does your organisation treat internal comms as the poor relation? We know that employee and staff engagement has never been more important - and with our colleagues busier than ever, a creative approach to how we reach them is equally crucial.
Chief Executive, Christchurch and East Dorset Councils Partnership
Communications Leadership in uncertain times - a Chief Exec's observations and expectations
With more than 30 years' experience working in local government, David is currently the Chief Executive of Christchurch and East Dorset Councils. He's also the YouTube star of Carpool Chattyaoke with David McIntosh….
David joined East Dorset District Council as Chief Executive in the summer of 2009 and soon afterwards, work began to develop a business case for a shared service partnership with Christchurch Borough Council. Bringing together the Partnership successfully means David is no stranger to managing staff through periods of changes and knows the importance of good internal communications. The Partnership shares all services between the two councils, saving millions of pounds while improving services. It has won a number of awards including the CIPD Award for Best Change Management and the SW Challenge Award for Best Partnership.
With a background in HR, David has worked in a number of management roles and holds a Master's Degree in Learning and Change in Organisations. He served for six years on the District Council Network Chief Executives Group and is currently the Chair of Solace South West.
Being an ‘avid’ digital media user David might struggle to unplug but he will try his best to log off during his time in the field.
Join fellow comms colleagues who feel your pain! Who doesn't feel better after a good rant, offloading our problems, and sharing our pet hates. The Vent Tent offers a calm and relaxing zone to do just that. Whether it's common issues, or unique aversions, there's no better place to get it all out. You'll already be Unplugged from the distractions of email and gadgets, and be amongst friends. A guaranteed cathartic experience that might even lead to solutions, acceptance, avoidance, analysis and more. Failing that, just have a good scream.
Let Irena Beniston guide you through a non-challenging, not-too-serious hour of hatha yoga. Fresh with ideas from her 2017 visit to an Indian Ashram, Irena's natural warmth will have you relaxing into a downward dog in no time. Please bring mats / towels and wear comfortable, loose clothing.
No twitter - far too yogi :-)
Here at Fresh Air Fridays we teach simple tools and techniques to improve people's understanding of how to support their own wellbeing. We do this through taking groups of people outside into nature and exploring 12 key themes in a way that allows them to build good habits to enjoy healthier, happier lives with greater purpose and joy!
From ‘Filling Yourself Up First’ to stretching our ‘Comfort Zones’ and deciding who we want in ‘Our Team’, our proven programme explores different aspects of wellbeing - encouraging personal responsibility and building resilience which helps people create more open, trusting relationships with their colleagues and customers.
We're excited to be part of the very first Comms Unplugged event and will run ‘taster’ sessions so you can experience this for yourself. We'd love to show you what we're all about and how Fresh Air Fridays could support you and your teams!
with Rupert Holloway, Founder and Chief Conkerer - Conker Gin
Let go of your cares and immerse yourself as Rupert demonstrates the mastery of creative mixology. That's consistent with working on your wellbeing, right?
Comms Unplugged was born in Dorset and our lovely county will always be its spiritual home. And of course every spiritual home needs an actual spirit! In our case, that's gin. So we are mega excited that this year we're joined by Rupert Holloway, founder of Conker, Dorset's first ever gin distillery.
Rupert gave up a successful but unfulfilling career as a chartered surveyor to set up his own business, doing something he knew he'd love.
Anyone who was in the field at #CU17 will have first-hand memories of the wellbeing-enhancing powers of Dorset’s first gin – Conker. This year - it's official. Gin and wellbeing go hand in glass…
Being way out in the Dorset countryside gives us the chance to wonder at the galaxy
Albert's impromptu stargazing session at CU17 captivated the #unpluggers - so we've asked him to do it again!
Albert lives in Shipley, West Yorkshire. When he's not unplugged he works on digital comms for Bradford Council, and is also a musician.
He says: “I first got really interested in stargazing when travelling in remote parts of Laos and Australia. I was overwhelmed by the amazing blanket of celestial bodies visible when you get away from urban light pollution.”
Albert will show us that you don't have to travel the world to explore our galaxy. At CU18 he'll be showing us some of the planets and stars that you can see with the naked eye. And if we're lucky, as we were at CU17, we might even see the odd shooting star.
He'll also share practical tips on how you can appreciate the night sky at home without any expensive equipment.
Meet and greet with the north Dorset alpacas
The health and wellbeing benefits of interacting with animals are well-documented. Mostly that means domestic pets - but we bring you quality time with a gorgeous pair of alpacas!
Wendy Williams delights visitors all year round with her herd of alpacas. She runs alpaca walks at her farm near Shaftesbury in North Dorset, and they can even be booked to attend weddings, including taking on the important role of ring-bearer!
For some reason there was much talk of alpacas and llamas at Comms Unplugged 2017 so we decided to invite a couple of these delightful animals to our field for 2018 as part of our wellbeing activities. It's well documented that spending time with animals brings both mental and physical health benefits so this new addition to our programme is a perfect fit.
In a session option which also includes time in our Vent Tent, you'll have the chance to hear more about these furry friends and to meet them up close and personal.
Don't ever say we're afraid of trying something different at Comms Unplugged!
Kevin Rideout, National Trust Purbeck
Be present with nature, breathe in the fresh air, be inspired by the stunning scenery, and blow away those hangovers!
Join us on a guided circular walk from the National Trust car park at Shell Bay on a heathland track then back along the seashore at glorious Studland. The beautiful, relatively flat, peaceful route is around an hour and a half with great scenery and plenty of wildlife. Be present with nature, breathe in the fresh air, be inspired by the stunning scenery, and blow away those hangovers!
Transport to and from the walk provided.
Creative Director, Alive with Ideas
For over 20 years Alan has been creatively harnessing unique ideas and turning them into powerful campaigns, communicating stories inside and out, for organisations of all shapes and sizes.
Thinking deeply, shocking occasionally, laughing frequently and delighting consistently.
Be prepared to get hooked on quirk pop's Dorset duo
Brimming with new ideas and funky sounds, Lauren Stubbs and Harris Worth have recently launched their first joint project Less Than Nine. The talented duo from Poole in Dorset are set to spread their innovative sound far and wide - and Comms Unplugged is among the first gigs they'll play.
With roots in underground dance music and events management, DJ and producer Harris, 24, has spent the last six years building his knowledge and experience running a drum and bass label (Wrec Records).
Singer-songwriter Lauren, 19, who has classical music training in piano and voice, has been writing and performing her music for the last 10 years. Her clear vocals, catchy melodies and lyrics reflecting real life combine to hook you in.
Back by popular demand, Tom will entertain us with fantastic covers and his own original material
Tom Clements is back in the tent for a great Friday night set. Bring your best singing voices!
Whether it's the smell of bacon breakfast baps, freshly brewed coffee or handmade pizzas wafting across the campsite, Comms Unplugged may not have mains power, but we're not compromising on giving you a good feed-up!
And there'll be no over-priced conference hotel bar charging you £8.50 for a small glass of pinot, oh no. Just bring your own! Whether it's bubbles or beer or just a nice cup of tea that takes your fancy of an evening, there will be plenty of downtime to relax and enjoy a tipple or two, if that's your thing.
Deputy Director for OD, Communication and Participation at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust.
After a degree in languages I trained to be a journo at the local paper in my home town. A few years later I hopped the fence into local gov comms, with a stint as a freelance and finally a move to the NHS.
Love the variety and the challenges of public sector comms and engagement, and the great people you get to work with. Value great writing, good humour, funky ideas and positive relationships.
Outside work it's two girls, one dog, one guinea pig, baking, singing (Rock Choir), movies, books, drawing, codeword puzzles and travel.
I am Shared Head of Communication and Marketing, Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole.
I studied a PR degree in my hometown of Bournemouth, which included a placement at the council. I loved it so much I went back after the obligatory post-graduation travelling and haven't left since!
After a dabble in the glamping business for a couple of seasons just two years ago (alongside my full time job at Bournemouth - what was I thinking?), I realised that the grass really wasn't greener, even in a glamping field, and embraced my job with newfound enthusiasm & appreciation. Why wouldn't I? I love the unending change, the requisite drive for creativity, and the innovation & commitment I see each day… oh, and I get to live by the sea.
Out of work passions - travel, conservation, food, wine, and my cat Marble.
My son claims I “work on The Twitter”. But really, I am a communications consultant, creator of comms2point0, and owner of Creative Communicators Ltd.
My 21-year career in communications, marketing and PR spans 10 years as Head of Communications within local government, a director level role in the NHS and five years in private sector marketing, winning some awards with my teams along the way.
I have hosted and spoken at more than 100 events across the UK, Europe and the Middle East, on integrating social media for business, building communications and engagement strategies, and communicating in a digital world.
And amongst many, many projects I am most proud to deliver the unique annual UnAwards, now in their fourth year.
I love the communications community and my mission is to fly a flag for it wherever possible.
I'm also passionate about all things Birmingham, including our very average football team, and in between trying to be a decent dad I love music, film & TV, cooking, trips to the seaside and the occasional visit to the gym.