We’ve recently had the idea to open up our weekly Comms team meeting to the broader Akvo team so that we have a regular forum to discuss Comms activities or provide advice and support on things that pop up around the organisation. We call it “Comms Hour!” and it has been decided that it will always be punctuated with an exclamation point. Now every time I hear (or say or type) the phrase “Comms Hour!” I can’t help but get a mental image of jazz hands.

Today we held our first meeting with the broader team and there was a lot to discuss, so it was technically “Comms Hour! (and 11 minutes…)” – a point that was not lost on Mark Charmer. But it was worth it.

For starters, I’m feeling quite good about the next steps on how we can enhance our use of Facebook as a communications channel. It’s something that has been on my mind but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Another separate, but related, issue raised on the call is that many of our partners are trying to work out how Akvo can fit into their social media strategies. Thinking about how we facilitate that discussion, we thought – why not make this our inaugural Facebook Q&A topic? Two birds, one stone.

We also covered ways in which we can acknowledge a milestone that seems to be swiftly approaching – 500+ projects online in Akvo RSR (Really Simple Reporting). As we watch the counter on the Akvo.org homepage tick away, Mark and I have been talking about commemorating this with a blog entry and a link to short interviews with the team on what this milestone means to us. Today’s call drew some great input from Frodo, Kathelyne and Adrian and additional ideas on how we get to the heart of this, either by featuring partner interviews or highlighting specific projects that have gone online since Akvo’s inception.

Finally, we discussed how we might visualise the detail of all of the technical improvements we make to RSR as new versions are released and how we can publish this type of information for even greater transparency. Adrian has put together the full history of every system improvement to date and we are quite keen to describe the software development process to our partners in an easily digestable way.  This is going to require further investigation on our part to really crack it, and we will certainly be following up on it offline, as well as on a future call.

On balance, I think we achieved more as a group than we would have had we tried to tackle these topics by having a handful of separate, one-on-one conversations.  At the same time, the discussion raised other questions and issues that we hadn’t thought of going into it.

I hope everyone found it engaging and productive. For me, it’s exciting to have a regular time to catch up with everyone – particularly as I sit on the other side of the pond from many of my colleagues.

I’d say, this week, we’ve earned our exclamation point. Jazz hands (!) all around.

Emily Armanetti is communications manager at Akvo, based in New York City.