davebriggs + communications   30

The Wheel of Misfortune
I had a great time at CommsCamp in Birmingham last week. Ann, Dan, Darren, Lloyd and helpers did a fantastic job, putting on an event which worked for old hands and those new to unconferences. Every time you think there’s nothing more to talk about, you realise there is (and as always, many of the best bits are the casual chats in hallways and foyers).

Photo credit: Simon Booth-Lucking (I promise, the body language belies a lively discussion…)

I ran a little session with a pretty self-serving goal: to pilot brainstorming a generic ‘Wheel of Misfortune’, or a set of communications risks, that I (or anyone else) might be able to use to help prepare an organisation for hostility in social media.

To me, the purpose of the Wheel of Misfortune is really threefold:

To make risk assessment for communications something a bit more engaging the normal dreaded grids, and provide the thinking behind formal documents that can demonstrate to bosses and others that you’ve thought through what might go wrong
Issues Management: to identify some of the potential problem areas or vulnerabilities which, if you handle them well, can help you avert a crisis
Crisis Management: to identify some of the constraints or dependencies which might cause you problems when you find yourself needing to communicate in a crisis

The basic plan was to divide a circle into about 20 segments, and brainstorm the ‘misfortunes’ recording one in each segment. Then we went round and tried to find some mitigations or solutions to each misfortune (though in the time, we only got about half way round):

About 20 CommsCampers helped me out, and we ended up with the following list of misfortunes:

Confidential policy info or personal data is leaked
Something embarrassing is posted from wrong account/inadvertently made public
Message timing is bad, clashes with news agenda or makes organisation look insensitive/out of touch
Hashtag or discussion gets hijacked
People from across the organisation give out inconsistent messages
Communications get watered down and become ineffective
Excessive process delays speed of response in a crisis
Short social updates/messages get taken out of context
Ongoing customer service issue: sustained customer complaint doesn’t get handled properly
Organisation faces an exposé/investigative report due to FOI/transparency
Personal abuse is directed at staff/leaders
Messages are deliberately misinterpreted to suit someone’s agenda
Get drawn into heated online discussion
Audience/internal colleagues have over-inflated expectations
Nobody cares
Internal politics and egos overrule communications strategy
Key platforms or data are lost/shut down
Organisation or key individuals are spoofed/parodied
Organisation is accused of abusing platforms/breaking rules
Someone posts something with an embarrassing typos or makes a miscellaneous cockup

(I particularly enjoyed ‘Nobody cares’, the perennial fear but all-to-frequent reality of public sector communications…)

The mitigations had some sound threads in common (but as I say, we only got half way):

Have the clarity of process and skills in place to act quickly
Monitor actively
Develop strong internal/stakeholder relationships and contacts, in order to co-ordinate activity
Defend sensible strategic communications, and don’t be swept along by ego or events
Seek second opinions
Be prepared to ignore or block abuse

I took the thoughts into a session Ben Proctor and I ran on Friday for the Government Communications Network on Digital Communications for Crises and Emergencies, which was a fascinating day in its own right, highlighting the breadth of crises that public sector communicators deal with, often day-in-day-out.

So many thanks to the CommsCampers who brainstormed, and may the Wheel of Misfortune spin kindly for you all…
Blog  commscamp  communications  crisis  risk  from google
march 2013 by davebriggs
CommsCamp13: Communications unleashed, gender issues and open data
Can communications professionals help reinvent what it means to be an elected representative? If that question strikes you as Sir Humphrey calling the shots in
The post CommsCamp13: Communications unleashed, gender issues and open data appeared first on Talk About Local.
Blog  Events  Featured  #opendata  commscamp13  communications  Councils  Data  public  transpearency  from google
march 2013 by davebriggs
commscamp: the low-down
On Tuesday 26 February, Birmingham stages the first national unconference for government and local government communicators.

by Darren Caveney

It's the event the world has been waiting for.  It's where creative communicators will come together.  It's taking place in what was once known as the 'City of a thousand trades', a creative workshop to the world.  And it's where cake will be eaten in very large quantities.

I give you commscamp.
#commscamp13  @commscamp  ann_kempster  commscamp  commscamp13  communications  dan_slee  darren_caveney  from google
february 2013 by davebriggs
DIGITAL COMMS: How #ourday helped tell the local government story
Okay, so the stats of the #ourday event tells one story but there is so much more to tell.

What was it? It was a chance to see what local government did over a 24-hour period.

A load of unglamorous unheralded tasks across the 700 services that your council does to help improve people’s lives.

A total of 10,161 tweets reached a potential audience of 768,227 people, according to organisers the Local Government Association.

And 3,967 accounts tweeted or retweeted the updates. That’s a large set of figures.

Hats off to Sarah Jennings and the Local Government Association team for attempting to herd cats and encouraging people to take part in the event.

Lovely stories
It goes without saying that the snippets of stories that emerge point to why things like this work.

The officer talking about the public art in Walsall or the barking dogs being investigated.

Tales like this is beauty of campaigns like #ourday.

It’s a model that does work.

“Barcodes on grit bins, GPS on gritters and thermal mapping of roads” – John Furey on tackling winter weather #ourday #mysocialsurrey

— Surrey News (@SurreyNews) September 25, 2012

Our bulky waste team picked up items no longer wanted by an elderly lady in Lavender Grove: a fridge, 2 TVs, a table and a VCR #OurDay

— Hackney Living (@hackneyliving) September 27, 2012

#EHO ‘s out tonight in #birmingham undertaking routine food hygiene inspections of 13 food premises. #purpleflagweek #OurDay

— BCC Env. Health (@envhealthbham) September 27, 2012

I’ve just written a new blog post here : A day in the life of a young Councillor – a post for LGA #ourday goo.gl/5CFZC

— Ben Berry(@cllrbenberry) September 27, 2012

It’s been another busy day for our Freedom of Information team – they’ve answered 619 requests so far this year #OurDay #RC24

— Redcar & Cleveland (@RedcarCleveland) September 27, 2012

late call from a #Walsall arts organisation interested in artsdigitalrnd.org.uk – now it’s time for a cycle home in the sunshine #ourday

— Daniel Carins (@dancarins) September 27, 2012

#localgov yorks Humber cx’s agree financial changes which won’t know until December appear much worse – makes planning v difficult #ourday

— Jo miller (@jomillerdonny) September 27, 2012

But what next?
Back in March 2010 at Walsall Council we staged Walsall 24 an idea we shamelessly borrowed from the inspirational GMP 24 which saw every call logged to Greater Manchester Police’s call centre.

It was fun, inspiring and brilliant to do and we learned loads.

But it dawned on us that actually, this is how it should be everyday. If we’re doing good things then we should tell people in a variety of channels.

But most of all it underlines why devolving social media access is important and that the sweets should be shared. Something I never tire of banging on about.

It’s public relations that’s taken out of the pr department. Or comms that can be done by non-comms.

Because stories from the frontline handcrafted and authentic are like bullets of gold in telling the local government story.

Making the most of a Twitter 24
The big lesson we learned in Walsall was that things like this shatter glass ceilings.

This is the important bit.

Take screen shots of what you’ve done. Print them out. Circulate them. Turn them into posters. Put them where people can see.

Add them to your intranet.

That piece of praise for the parks department that came back from a resident? Tell parks.

That shot of the roadmending machine out and about? Put it on the noticeboard in the Town Hall.

By taking things offline we can show the benefits of using digital communications to people who may never have thought that this is for them.

I bet that’s what the real legacy of #ourday will be if you’re careful.

Wouldn’t it be good if…
Next time we did this there are lots more of the difficult stuff to cover. The social care people, the binmen, the teachers and the housing staff.

And wouldn’t it be good if there was a single issue – as well as everything – to focus on too. Whether that be signing people up to a library. Or doing a specific task.

But maybe more important than that is the fact that it starts conversations and makes local government appear what it can be best. Human.

Creative commons credit

Urban initiatives http://www.flickr.com/photos/watchlooksee/4525612637/sizes/l/

Man http://www.flickr.com/photos/watchlooksee/4526163424/sizes/l/
communications  Public_Relations  social_media  lga  local_government  ourday  sarah_jennings  walsall_24  from google
september 2012 by davebriggs
Going public – a council blog case study
Last September, my department launched an internal news blog, aimed at keeping staff informed about the latest developments and initiatives, as well as celebrating achievements and sharing best practice. It featured an update from the Director on the visits, meetings and events that she attends every week, as well as a regular report from Council meetings on key reports and decisions.

This proved popular with staff as a way to keep informed. It also provided a way for them to have their say, by leaving comments on the posts. Crucially, we invited posts from any member of staff, to get a broad view of the work across the department. In all, we had nearly 200 posts, from over 50 contributors.

Going public
We’ve been so pleased with this new way of sharing our information that we’ve decided to make the blog public. My argument for this was simple – we have nothing to hide and our service users will have a genuine interest in knowing what we’re up to.

The new blog

In that spirit, we’ve just gone live with www.edinburgh.gov.uk/brightfutures.

Before going live, we trained key staff throughout the department on publishing to the new blog. This will enable us to keep up the high volume of posts from across our services, without necessarily relying on centralised publishing (although we are retaining an editorial overview, with posts requiring central approval before going live).

We transferred all relevant posts from the old blog in order to preserve the archive that we’ve built up over the past year – this means that we’ve already got a healthy looking “tag cloud” of popular topics which people can browse.

Broad remit
The blog has a broad remit – covering all of the services we deliver to Edinburgh’s children, young people and their families. We’re a huge department with lots of stories to tell, so I’m hopeful that we won’t be short on material. We’re also going to encourage contributions from key partners, parents and carers, and young people – in fact, we’ve already featured a couple of posts written by young people themselves. This is another feature of the blog which I’m particularly excited about.

One challenge will naturally be to filter what comes in and make sure it’s of sufficient interest to the wider audience – the concept of what makes a story “blog-worthy” will take some time to take shape, and I’m hoping that honest feedback, backed up by some decent analytics, will help us identify what really ignites people’s interest.

Inviting comments
Without doubt the trickiest subject, when discussing our ambition to make the blog public, has been around comments – the ability for anyone to have their say. Of course, we’ll be pre-moderating any comments before they go live. This isn’t to censor anyone, just to make sure nothing nasty gets through. Our organisation has published an acceptable use policy for anyone wanting to contact us through social media, and we’ll be keeping the same rules for the blog. Where it will get interesting, though, is if we get legitimate negative comments. This is the tricky bit of genuine public engagement, and will certainly be a cultural shift for some, although most folk I’ve spoken to are excited by its potential.

The bigger picture
One thing we were always keen to stress to staff is that the blog is part of a much bigger picture – one of various ways in which they could get news. We have various internal and external channels of communication, and we’ll continue to strengthen the editorial processes for getting stories to the right people, via the most appropriate means.

Top blogging tips
To help people wanting to contribute, we came up with 8 top tips for writing a good blog post:

Be personal – blog posts should be written in the first person (e.g. “I think…” or “I’m pleased to announce…”) and can be informal. If you are writing on behalf of someone, say so – people can quickly pick up on writing skills and will recognise if different people are pretending to be the same person.

Be clear – use plain English, avoid jargon, and explain any terms that people may not have heard before.

Be honest – don’t avoid difficult subjects. People respect honesty and openness.

Be relevant – never leave the reader asking “so what?” – explain what your news will actually mean to them.

Be connected – link to further reading e.g. related articles or other websites.  Try to put links at the end of your post to avoid people leaving your post halfway through.

Be visual – photos and videos are a great way to grab people’s attention – whether it’s a high quality film or just a snap from a mobile phone.

Be creative – think about ways to engage your audience. Put the most important facts first and create something that people will want to read.

Be responsive – people can leave public comments on posts. If someone comments on your post, respond where appropriate. Invite comments by ending your post with something like “what do you think?” or “We’d be interested to hear your views on…”.

In the spirit of that last tip, I’m keen to hear what people think of the new blog and the thinking behind it. Are you planning something similar for your organisation? Or have you seen other examples of blogging in local government?
Blog  Featured  blogs  communications  engagement  local_government  from google
august 2012 by davebriggs
Central-Local – It’s good to talk
The National Audit Office (NAO) recently published “Central Government’s communications and engagement with local government”, a report on the effectiveness of central government’s communications with local government. The report found that communication is very challenging as a consequence of the organisational differences between central …
Digital  Policy  civil_servants  communications  engagement  NAO  Whitehall  from google
july 2012 by davebriggs
a modest proposal: plan to get rid of press offices
GUEST EDITOR: Ben Proctor of the Likeaword consultancy.

What should press offices do when the printing presses go quiet? In this post a plan for revolution is drafted. But there's still a role to play for communications people if they adapt.
Ben_Proctor  communications  plan_to_get_rid_of_press_offices  public_relations  social_media  from google
july 2012 by davebriggs
Agile for communications « Sharon O'Dea
Brilliant, comprehensive overview from Sharon.
comms  communications  agile 
april 2011 by davebriggs
COI is dead, long live the GCC?
Good coverage of the future of COI from Andrew.
coi  government  communications  uk 
march 2011 by davebriggs
Meeting the public sector communications challenge
"But what public sector communicators need to do is continue to demonstrate the value of communications, not as an end in itself, but as an agent for making things better for the public."
localgov  localgovernment  communications 
september 2010 by davebriggs
The Social PR Blog
Great blog for comms/PR folk on how to get social right.
pr  comms  communications  blog  content 
august 2010 by davebriggs
Newsroom: the backstory
"Early feedback on the prototype from journalists was positive, the Press Office got a nice-looking tool which required literally zero additional work beyond emailing over their contact list, and Neil got one of his much-loved quick wins – and within SiteCore too."
government  rss  opengovernment  communications  media  lesteph 
july 2010 by davebriggs
Why I’m fed up of talking about social media, really
"Sure it’s great that lots of councils are interested in social media and what it can do for their communications. But what is really starting to annoy me is that too many councils are asking the wrong questions."
socialmedia  localgovernment  localgov  gov2.0  government2.0  communications 
june 2010 by davebriggs
eGov AU: If you are a communications professional who chooses not to use social media, will you have a job in ten years?
"If you don't use social media, how can you critically assess its comparative worth as a communications tool? How can you help your employer avoid and rebound from embarrassing social media mistakes?"
communications  government  government2.0  gov2.0  socialmedia  digital  australia 
february 2010 by davebriggs
Digital citizens and democratic engagement - The Hansard Society
"[This report] shows that for Britons who are already online, the internet has made it easier to take part in civic and political activities and that half of them prefer to use the internet to take part in democratic life."
democracy  edemocracy  icele  hansardsociety  politicians  socialmedia  internet  web  online  communications  engagement  digitalengagement  elections  representation 
february 2010 by davebriggs
Communicating Cohesion: Evaluating Local Authority Communication Strategies
"The report is the culmination of an in-depth investigation into local authority communications, from the perspective of promoting community cohesion. The findings reinforce the need for effective communications to address perceptions by some groups that they are losing out to others and the need for local authorities to take a strategic approach to communications that needs to involve not just the council staff and elected members, but the community itself."
localgov  localgovernment  research  communications  strategy 
february 2010 by davebriggs
Government 2.0: Communication and Engagement Are On a Collision Course
"In essence, in gov 2.0 terms an effective communication strategy is likely to be almost the exact opposite of an effective engagement strategy. The former chooses and controls channels, while the latter joins somebody else’s channels The former determines rules of engagement, the latter follows somebody else’s rules. The former assumes that citizens reach out to government, the latter is based on government reaching out to communities and groups."
communication  communications  egovernment  engagement  gov2.0  marketing  pr  government  digitalengagement 
january 2010 by davebriggs
Communications, social marketing and behavioural change
"Over the past few years, social marketing has grown in prominence as a branch of marketing that’s focussed on delivering public good from marketing rather than the commercial benefits that sit behind much conventional marketing theory."
communications  marketing  socialmarketing  coi  government  localgov  localgovweb 
december 2009 by davebriggs
NDS - News Distribution Service
RSS feeds for every gov't department - well done Justin!
rss  government  communications 
august 2008 by davebriggs
BBC NEWS | UK | Councils launch charm offensive
Council chiefs are reminding voters of the work they do, using images including a drunk girl vomiting in the street and a dog fouling a park.
councils  localgovuk  news  communications  pr 
june 2008 by davebriggs
Crisis communication fundamentals
Very comprehensive blog post from Shel Holtz. A great resource.
crisis  communications  business+recovery  shel+holtz 
january 2008 by davebriggs

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