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My Comms2Point0 Unaward Lifetime Achievement Award Nomination: Jayne Surman

14 Nov

We spend a lot of our time at work and that time is made far better, easier and more rewarding when we have fantastic colleagues and brilliant managers. I am blessed with both a Warwickshire County Council.

December marks the annual Comms2Point0 Unawards, one of the categories is Lifetime Achievement  Award and there was someone I wanted to nominate: Our Head of Communications at WCC, Jayne Surman.

So, here’s a story and the contents of that nomination:

It is hard to know really where to begin with the reasons that I am nominating Jayne Surman for the Unaward’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

I could tell you about her long history working in Communications in the public and not for profit sectors across the West Midlands leading large communications teams that have done brilliant things.

Jayne began her career as a senior manager working as marketing manager at a Birmingham University before making the move to Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council where she was instrumental in integrating Press and Marketing functions into a single full-service team, at a time when such teams were relatively rare in the public sector.

I could tell you about her expertise leading communications on highly complex internal and external change management programmes across the public sector and about her time as Chair of LGComms who she continues to do work for carrying out peer reviews at authorities across the country.

I could tell you that she speaks 5 languages fluently and even managed a level of conversational fluency in Japanese – which would take most people around 5 years to achieve – in preparation for a trip to the country that she made during her time working for Dudley MBC.

I could tell you about the many battle scars she bears from fighting the good fight for the legitimacy of communications as a professional discipline in the public sector. About all the times I’ve personally seen her completely disarm difficult customers with her huge smile and friendly approach to people.

I could tell you that she supports her teams professionally, from the most junior to the most senior, and that many of the staff who have worked for her have gone on to very senior public sector communications roles themselves.

I could tell you about how she has completely transformed the way the Warwickshire County Council Marketing and Communications team operate: giving us a firm framework for communication activity from the planning to measurement and evaluation that has led to the team going from strength to strength.

I could tell you about her deep sense of fun and incredible sense of humour. About the amazing cakes she bakes for the team on a near daily basis. About her love of extreme sports from high altitude mountain trekking to off-piste skiing and scuba diving and about her love for a good cup of tea or her equally deep love for Gary Barlow.

I could tell you all these things, and any one of them (possibly with the exception of the last) should be enough to earn her a nomination for a Lifetime Achievement Award. These are all great things that make a fantastic leader in Public Sector Communication. Jayne has something else, more important than all these things. Jayne has that, often rare, quality that elevates good managers to great leaders: Kindness and empathy! This is the reason for this nomination.

Jayne has repeatedly gone above and beyond what could be expected of any manager and has supported a number of members of the Team at Warwickshire County Council through some of the worst times possible. I know this, because I am one of them!

In 2015, we lost our son during childbirth and Jayne was one of the first people I told what had happened as I needed to make her aware that I probably wouldn’t be back in the office for a while. From that point the level of support that Jayne provided to both myself and my wife (who was also quite poorly) was incredible! A few days after our discharge from hospital, Jayne visited at a time we were at our lowest with a big hamper of food and a lot of support. The positive effect that had is us is something I struggle to articulate, even now. Hopefully this last paragraph being an exception!

When I was putting this nomination together, I spoke to a number of people who had similar stories to mine. They all echoed the same: When the chips are down Jayne Surman is one of the best people to have in your corner. I can think of no one who better deserves a lifetime achievement award more than Jayne!

If you like this story and, like me, think Jayne deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award, then please vote for her here:

Our fantastic Marketing and Communications Team is also up for the award as Best Team and votes there also appreciated on the same link:


Be still my beating (Twitter) heart

5 Nov

So Twitter is outraged this week…okay, I will definitely need to be more specific than that as Twitter is always outraged about something, but this week Twitter is outraged about Twitter. Specifically, the company’s decision to replace the favourite function, previously represented by a star icon with a like function, now represented by a heart icon. I know, right? Shit just got serious, I’m struggling to write these words through the sheer weight of my unbridled rage and hatred.

It was no secret that this change was coming. Twitter have spoken about it frequently for months and even tested the new functionality with a number of selected users but this still hasn’t stopped an outpouring of anger normally reserved for sex offenders and war criminals.

I’ve been watching the outpouring of anger and it seems to be emanating from three distinct groups, which I find interesting enough to warrent this post.

The Lads

Firstly, the lads – the Bros for my American and Australian readers – they object to the new hearts because a heart is just too effeminate.

I mean, Stars, now stars are manly, all that burning hydrogen and potential for vast supernova explosions, few things more manly than a star and they’ve been happily throwing stars around, like kebab meat at pub closing time on a Friday night, for years.

The lads don’t want to send other men hearts on Twitter, bit namby-pamby, innit? They largely only talk to other lads on Twitter and now they are stoically refusing to even consider the vast threat to their masculinity posed by a blood-red heart.

I have followers that I often engage with who have frequently favourited my tweets who I’m almost certain won’t now because a heart is involved even though the only thing to have changed is the icon. The mind boggles.

The Fauxmenists

If you are wondering how to spot a Fauxmenist, they have the word ‘feminist’ in their Twitter Bio but nowhere in their timeline will you find a single mention of female genital mutilation or any of the stunning injustices inflicted upon women around the world. Instead, you will find them shouting ‘don’t you f***ing #notallmen me’ ad infinitum at any men trying to engage them in reasoned discussions; or trying not to drown under the sheer weight of their Daddy issues; or misrepresenting the joke of Nobel prize winner Sir Tim Hunt; or getting astrophysicists sacked for having lousy dress sense.

The Fauxmenists are outraged because the evil people at Twitter – who are obviously all men even though they absolutely are not, but hey, let’s not let facts get in the way now – have formulated a way for men, evil, evil men, to harrass them and invade their safe spaces with sexually loaded hearts. It’s basically tantamount to rape, is it not? (It. Is. Not)

The Fauxmenists think Twitter is already designed with the sole intention of facilitating sexism and the harrassment of women and the hearts are the straw that broke the camels back. They’ll now definitely be finding another social platform where they feel safer…but maybe tomorrow. Today they’ll be ignoring the fact Twitter has built in block and report functionality and screaming ‘don’t you f***ing #notallmen me’ ad infinitum.

The minority

The minority of dissenting voices on Twitter are those suggesting that the company have not really given thought to the way the previous favourite functionality and associated star was being used by them and many others.

They argue that they used the favourite function to bookmark tweets that they might want to come back to in the future and that it did not mean they necessarily ‘liked’ the content of the tweet. The fact that this neutrality of bookmarking with a favourite has been replaced with a more Facebook-esque like is, for them, a retrograde step. Fair enough.

Twitter is free

As none of us have ever paid to use Twitter as personal or business users (unless paying to promote tweets) I’m not terribly sure how useful it is to shout about Twitter not listening to our views about the product we use. If you genuinely don’t like it, then vote with your feet.

It strikes me as somewhat disingenuous to moan incessantly how terrible the environment is while you’re tweeting 100s of times each day and coming back every day. It’s basically like repeatedly punching yourself in the face and complaining about headaches as you go.

I just can’t find it in myself to be angry about stuff like this. I used to pay to play World of Warcraft, trust me if you ever want to see a company not really care about their userbase, check out the psychotic disregard that Blizzard have always had for their users. I didn’t complain much then either even though my grounds for doing so were fairly sizeable.

Paul’s guide to hearts

Still worried about the intention behind a heart, I’ve collated a few of my tweets on the topic into a handy guide. Hope it helps:

IF you wake up to find yourself unable to move while someone is knelt on you, brandishing a handsaw and trying to access your heart through your chest, this is sinister and reasonable to object to.

IF someone leaves a scrawled heart in their own blood (or any other bodily fluid, for that matter) on your windscreen this is also sinister and it is perfectly reasonable to worry about that person’s intentions.

IF someone sends you a family member or beloved pet’s heart in a box on Valentine’s Day, definitely bad and cause for concern.


IF someone hearts your last tweet it probably just means they enjoyed it and/or are bookmarking it to read later.

Still not convinced?

If you genuinely can’t abide the new Twitter hearts, they are causing you deep and enduring pain and you don’t mind a bit of code wrangling, well Gizmodo have a solution just for you, my sensitive friend. Here it is: How to replace Twitter’s dumb heart with an emoji of your choice

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