Insights

Inspire and engage your team with a PR hack day

hack day

So, before we get started, you may (or may not) be asking yourself what is a PR hack day? Otherwise known as a hackathon, in Journey Further terms, its purpose is to give different teams across the business the opportunity to experiment with clients and colleagues they don’t usually work with, to go beyond everyday restrictions and push the boundaries with their ideas.

Whilst a hack day or hackathon originates from the technology world, it can be applied to pretty much any industry with the right approach. 

 

How we run a hack day at Journey Further

There is so much more to a hack day than just the event itself, and if you really want to engage your team and reap the benefits, you need to take the time to prepare and plan. The first two questions to ask yourself are why and what; why are we doing this, and what do we want to get out of it? 

  • Why: drive innovation and encourage outside-the-box thinking to better inform our ideas 
  • What: build new connections through cross-team collaboration and gain a wider understanding of your colleagues

 

But what does this actually look like in practice? We set the three teams, across PR and creative, a brief of building a brand-led PR concept for their assigned client, exploring digital and traditional methods, for a September launch. They had £100,000 to spend in total and were advised to consider channels such as influencer, data and insights, as well as creative, provided they were relevant.

Each team needed to present their concept back to the group in a ready-to-pitch format, including a budget breakdown. Everyone then anonymously voted for the idea that answered the brief the best, with the winning team earning a very lucrative prize (some sweets!).

 

The benefits of hosting a hack day

Put simply, when carried out effectively, a hack day can motivate, inspire, and challenge (with care) where needed. Those in the industry will know that idea fatigue exists, and none of us are immune to it, which is why it’s important to switch things up every now and then, be it a change in environment, client, or team.

Allowing your employees to take a step away from their laptops for a day and connect with their colleagues in a location they don’t work in regularly is invaluable for their growth and development, especially when it’s within a fun, low-pressure, and non-judgmental space.

For more junior team members, it also allows them to practise and become more comfortable with presenting their ideas back to a group.

 

Implementing learnings into your strategies

Now you know the benefits, how do you apply those learnings to your strategies? Our Leeds, Manchester, and London hack day sessions have played an important role in giving the team the chance to reflect not only on what they produced as part of the assigned brief but also on how to apply those learnings to their day-to-day.

As the event is designed to encourage fresh thinking and allows everyone to experiment more openly without the restrictions and red tape that sometimes come with clients, it acts as a reset, positively impacting brainstorming sessions and how we get the most out of them.

Not only that, but by collaborating with others that you aren’t as close to on your client accounts, you pick up on new tactics and approaches. This can then be seen in the quality of shared, developed, and pitched ideas.

 

Key considerations when planning

Aside from outlining clear objectives and a client brief, it’s also really important not to overlook your team’s ideation preferences. We all have our own ways of approaching a brainstorm, from breaking down the brief to prep and attendance, and it’s key to acknowledge that and create an open and safe environment.

To ensure that we support the team as much as possible in this area, we have developed guidance on the different personalities you might encounter in a brainstorming session. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The preparer 
  • The observer 
  • The wise owl
  • The literal thinker
  • The experimenter
  • The bouncer
  • The challenger

 

All seven personalities have been carefully developed to provide an understanding of how each type prefers to approach a session, the circumstances in which they feel most comfortable as well as considerations the person leading and those attending can make to ensure it’s an enjoyable and creative experience for all.

 

Gathering feedback from the team

When hosting a hack day, or a similar event, it’s no secret that gathering feedback from those who attended is crucial, especially when exploring how to apply it in real-time.

Following our sessions, we sent an anonymous form around the team to give them the opportunity to share their thoughts, which in turn, meant we could understand:

  • One thing they would keep
  • One thing they would add
  • One thing they would do less of
  • One thing they would do more of

 

Not only did this streamline the feedback, but it also made it clear what the most important elements were to continue doing and what wasn’t as effective, allowing us to iterate and make changes for future sessions.

So, now you know how to inspire and engage your team with a PR hack day. If you’re a business or brand looking for help implementing and running your first hack day, contact us today for more information.