The week before Christmas I delivered a workshop at Number 10 Downing Street for the Cabinet and PM’s Office Local Campaigns and Insight Team, helping them identify ways to understand and engage with varied communities across the UK.

Sharing examples of campaigns undertaken by Spring and other agencies in the Hyperlocal Everywhere Network, I gave insights into how we go about getting to know geographic and demographic communities better. Sometimes we do this for public and third sector, sometimes for brands who are keen to make their budgets more efficient and their messaging more effective.

Erika Clegg at No.10

I shared with them the seven principles of Influence cited by Robert Cialdini: namely reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consensus, commitment, liking and unity. He devised the initial list of six thirty years ago, and brought in ‘unity’ only last year; it’s also worth noting that ‘authority’ has changed beyond recognition recently, with traditional establishment bodies crashing in trust, and ordinary people growing ever more influence through social media.

Whilst our own policy is to undertake our research on-the-ground and face-to-face wherever possible, clearly there are constraints to that for government communications teams. So it was good to share insights to real community influencers – the day to day voices of authority, the community glue. We discussed how to find them and harness their connections to deliver information into communities and consult on their needs and views.

It was a great pleasure to bump into Larry the cat on the way out, who nonchalantly sauntered in when the door was opened for me to leave. He was distinctly unimpressed by my attempts to make small talk.