A day a year local government shouts about what it does.
I raise my hat to everyone who took part in the day and created content.
Seven years ago, this was purely a Twitter thing when it started as #walsall24. Over the years the Local Government Association has got involved to support it.
But now that Twitter is the 4th most popular social platform should it just be Twitter? I’m not so sure. If it is true to its aim of reaching people to tell the story of what local government does it needs to find the best platform. Probably, this is an array of platforms.
An additional worry in a discussion on the Public Sector Facebook group is that people struggle to create the time to make #ourday really work. But anecdotally, this does work as internal comms. It also works to encourage service areas to share their stories.
Here are five pieces of content that caught my eye
Radio DJ Nick Grimshaw posting about council gritters on instagram
Nick Grimshaw has 1.3 million followers. He is from Oldham. The winner of their name-a-gritter competition was ‘Nick Grit-shaw’. So, as an Oldham boy made good he shared it with his followers attracting 30,000 likes.
Why is this good? This isn’t the council talking about what they do, it’s a Radio One DJ. That’s far cooler.
An interactive be-a-council-officer game
There used to be a cartoon strip called You Are the Ref where you were given a scenario and had to choose the correct outcome. Doncaster Council used Twitter to create a similar scenario only being faced with the challenge a council officer would face. It gave a taste of the difficulty council staff face.
Let’s get started.
— #OurDay in Doncaster | Story 1 (@DoncasterTales1) November 20, 2017
Why is this good? It’s not saying ‘here’s what we do.’ It asks: ‘what would you do?’
A poem set to video
There are 1,200 services that local government does. It’s hard to cover them all. But a video of just over a minute covers much of the ground. Well done Bath & North East Somerset Council.
— B&NES Council (@bathnes) November 21, 2017
Why is this good? It uses video so autoplays in your timeline. It covers a range of things in a short space of time.
The most popular Facebook update wasn’t a council service as such but a lost dog. Of course it was. It was never going to be an engineer filling in a pothole, was it? You can see it here.
Hello, regular people
One of the benefits of #ourday is putting faces to names and to be able to tell people what they do, as this Derbyshire Dales Council tweet shows.
Busy day ahead for these 3 from our Clean & Green Team. Mick is our central litter bin emptier, while Andrew & Steve are preparing to help with the clearance of autumn leaves #ourday pic.twitter.com/SZ1iZwehB8
— Derbyshire Dales DC (@derbyshiredales) November 21, 2017
Why is this good? Because it tells you who those familiar faces are and what they do.
A Periscope broadcast to explain a guided walk
South Cambridgeshire has many attractive places and guided walks encourage older people to step out. Here the council used Twitter’s live streaming app Periscope for a council worker to talk about what the scheme is.
A clip-on mic helps to improve the sound.
Why is this good? Because it is getting out of an office and experimenting with technology.
The earlier you involve your comms team in a new project the more chance it has of being a success.
There’s some stats behind this, too.
If comms are involved in the early planning stage its an 82 per cent chance of success.
If they are involved after the scheme has been approved its 68 per cent.
If comms are called in just before launch its 40 per cent.
If its after launch its 26 per cent.
If its not at all its 15 per cent.
These statistics emerged from a survey from the #commsforchange event I was involved with a while back in the early days of comms2point0. It’s a figure In keep referring back to.
It was a figure that came into my head when I saw the stream from localgovcamp in Bristol last weekend. Loads of great ideas were being kicked around by bright people in local government. Yet, there was very little talk of who to communicate with. That’s not a criticism of the event or the ideas. Far from it. It’s an event that’s very dear to my heart and has shaped what I do today.
But something nagged at me. The landscape is littered with great ideas badly communicated.
And if you want the idea to succeed you need to tell the right people at the right time in the right way.
When you’ve got a difficult message to deliver don’t just send out the next cab on the rank. Instead, use a bit of research to send out the best one.
Who is delivering the message is just as important as what they are actually saying.
But when time and effort gets spent on the the words very little gets spent on thinking through who will say them.
Who will say it? And what will they say? Here is a couple of pieces of research that should help guide who will say what for you.
A case study with trees and angry people
Back when I was in the public sector, an issue blew up with trees being cut down on common land. The simple equation was this:
Trees are good, so cutting them down is bad.
That’s a perfectly understandable response. The thing was, it was more complicated than that. IKt boiled down to:
Trees are good but they’re damaging rare heathland.
The offending trees themselves were self-set. In other words, birds had eaten berries and the seeds had ended up germinating where they fell. Trouble is the heath land they had germinated on needs protecting as there isn’t much of it. Sounds technical? It was. Luckily, we had a named countryside ranger who was using social media for the organisation. So, she was better able to communicate what was happening.
Why? Because she was a trusted individual and an expert in her field. She had also built a relationship with people. What was the alternative? A politician who wouldn’t have had the same clout.
Who will say it? Trust and shooting the messenger
Our reaction depends a great deal on who is sent out of the door to deliver the message. If we don’t really believe whoever has been sent out we won’t believe what they say. The 2016 Edelman Trust barometer sets out through extensive polling what people think of people with different job titles. See the board of directors on the right? They’re least trusted. Your employee? Markedly more trusted and the person like yourself even more so.
Who will say it? Trust in politicians is low
Data from Ipsos Mori was posted on Twitter earlier today by Ben Page. If you don’t already do follow him. He’s often insightful. The research shows that politicians are trusted by 15 per cent of the population and nurses and doctors at more than 90 per cent are the most trusted. The research is here:
The data is useful if you are in the public sector. While many of us would like politicians to be more trusted the hard reality is that they are not. Seeing as that’s the landscape we’re faced with, I’d argue that we need to be more thoughful in the way we deliver messages. The trusted member of staff is likely to be more effective. This also has the spin-off of making the approval process that bit quicker.
Of course, black is not white and there are occasions when a politician fronting up a message is the best route. This is where the small ‘p’ nouse of a comms officer is important.
Who will say it? Content is king
Of course, there’s a chance the message may be better delivered not by an individual but by a piece of content. The sharable infographic, the video or the image may be the best way to deliver the message. Especially if it is financial data that frankly, is a bit dull. Make the telephone directory come alive in other ways.
What will you say?: Honest communications, please
One last set of data to check before you respond also comes from the UK edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer. It’s about honesty. The research breaks down the population into the informed public and mass. In other words, college educated and high media cosumers and the rest. The stats here are so striking they can’t be avoided. We all want honest communications. My own take on this is that this is messages that are straight and don’t try and pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.
So, if that message is honest, straight and comes from people who are likely to be trusted, you’ve got a chance.
If you call cuts cuts and not efficiencies you are more likely to cut through. Especially if they are delivered from someone people can trust.
I’m firstname.lastname@example.org and @danslee. Shout if I can help. I’ll be co-delivering a workshop on How to Communicate in a Digital World in Edinburgh on December 9, Birmingham on January 24 and Manchester on February 16. More info here.
Picture credit: Exile on Ontario Street / Flickr