I’ve written before about the trend for drawing a line in the sand on social media.
It’s something I’m in favour at he right time and right place.
Normally, I’ve featured things that are pretty defensible. The police Facebook comment pointing out that the reason we have speed cameras is death on the road, for example.
This tweet from the University of Reading either is just the right side of things or oversteps the mark.
We’ve had feedback over the last week that some people are unhappy with our plan to offer up to 14 scholarships to refugees living in the local area. To these people, we would like to say: Tough. Jog on. https://t.co/ioDLPp5crw
— Uni of Reading (@UniofReading) July 2, 2018
Personally, I get it.
On the Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group, there was dissenting voices between those who liked and those who think this is helping to coarsen debate.
There is no one size fits all with content. This may work in some organisations but not in others.
Using an unscientific yardstick, there are more than 5,000 likes and of the replies there was mix of comments.
So you are indifferent to the criticism or the opinion of those criticizing you, you feel no need to explain yourselves – interesting 🤣
— David S (@DAS19XX) July 2, 2018
As an alumnus who donates to the University every month, and has done for years, I believe this is my money you are spending on scholarships.
I support it 100% and will increase my giving forthwith.
Anyone who doesn’t like it. Tough. Jog on.
— Is anybody there? (@gudnameztaken) July 2, 2018
I’m @danslee on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org. If you hate missing out on the good stuff subscribe to my weekly email here.
It’s a fascinating time to be a comms person… new tactics emerge and old ones fall away.
But like anything, your decisions should be driven less by the shiny and what will get you results.
So, Facebook Live. It’s something I’ve been fascinating by for some time.
The idea is quite simple. You post to Facebook and you have the option to create a live broadcast from your device’s camera as simply as posting some words.
But where does it fit into the landscape?
It’ll help you beat the Facebook algorithm
Being admin of a page used to be such fun. You posted something and your audience saw it, liked it, commented on it and shared it. You sat back and took the applause. But since Facebook Zero and Mark Zuckerburg’s announcement earlier this year that you’ll see less from pages and more from friends and family that’s long gone.
Right now though, use a Facebook Live broadcast and you’ll be reaching more people.
But what do we do?
Here’s where it gets interesting because you are really not hemmed in right now by convention. We’re all learning but please, for heaven’s sake, look outside your sector to see how others are doing it.
Sure, think calls to action. But also see your broadcast as educational, fun and interesting that will build your audience for a time when you really want them to do something. A social channel that’s just one long call to action isn’t fun.
Broadcast because the value is to be in the right place at the right time
English Heritage look after Stonehenge. This collection of Neolithic stone tablets has fascinated people for thousands of years. At the moment of winter and also summer solstice the sun shines perfectly at an angle. It is a special place to be. So a live broadcast of the moment and the build up to it makes sense.
Broadcast because you’ve got something visually interesting
National Rail celebrated the longest day of the year with a live broadcast from a GoPro in the train driver’s cab of the Aberdeen to Plymouth service. This is the longest in Britain and runs through some stunning scenery.
It says that the country is amazing, that as a feat of engineering its incredible and also that National Rail understand how the internet works.
Some kickbacks emerged when it was admitted that the video was not as live but the playing of a video recording. But I get that. But then again, what would a livestreamed suicide do for anyone? Or for the organisation’s reputation if the train broke down?
Broadcast because you are commenting on breaking news
Look at what newspapers are doing. They don’t call themselves newspapers anymore. They’re media companies that happen to produce some print.
When the football fixtures were published my team Stoke City’s local media company ran a Facebook Live to run through them. Leeds away is first up. They incorporated comments from readers – or should I see viewers – too.
The camera work wasn’t amazing. It doesn’t have to be.
Broadcast for a Q&A
Over in the Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group I’m admin of, we ran a Q&A ahead of GDPR on how they may affect websites.
From the more than 2,000 members of the group we had more than 900 views and more than 50 questions and comments which was fine with us. We’re a niche but highly active forum.
If you’re a member you can see the broadcast here. But as the stream went into a closed group we can’t embed it elsewhere on the internet.
The topics you can live broadcast are pretty wide and vast. I’ve blogged more than 30 of them here.
So, if that’s the topic, how do I do it?
I co-deliver workshops on live video skills that goes into the planning and the delivery using some handy BBC principles.
Before you go live, run a test broadcast where you broadcast only to yourself. You can select ‘only you’ from the settings before you hit post. This allows you to see if your device can be help landscape or has to be held in upright portrait mode. At a big set-piece event like an election count you’ll need to be aware that media companies will more than likely be broadcasting.
But what if my audience isn’t on Facebook?
Then don’t use Facebook, you big silly. With Twitter, Periscope is the live app of choice and instagram and YouTube have their own functionality. But the numbers behind Facebook make it important.
I’ve heard it said that people are leaving Facebook. The stats don’t support that globally although I’ve heard of people leaving the platform in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica saga. That’s fine. I get it. But until there is a better way of sharing cat videos the mass audience isn’t leaving Facebook anytime soon.
I’m @danslee on Twitter and dan@comms2point0. If you hate missing out on the good stuff subscribe to my weekly email here.
Cost has always been a factor in helping to train comms people into how best to use video.
Gone are the days when a video production company could come and shoot a five grand video for a conference of fifty people.
Sure, there’s still a place for an externally-made video. But when you have the technology on your smartphone that’s in your pocket the smart thing to do is to look at ways to use that.
Over the past three years, myself and my colleague Steven Davies have trained more than 1,000 people. It has been a delight. Often people think the kit will be expensive. Not true. You can just use your phone or tablet if you like. But for a small investment you can improve what you do.
The sixty quid kit
If you have a device and you want the basics, a Rode clip-on microphone and a mobile phone tripod will cost you around £60. That’s roughly an Americano a day for a month. But if you want some extras, you can pay your money and take your choice.
A tablet or mobile
You can get a video camera if you must. But then you have the faff of keeping it charged, keeping it in a place where people can find it and hope that people will remember how to use it. Or you could use a smartphone or tablet. You are more likely to have that with you, have it charged and know what the buttons do.
Use your own phone if you can or your office device. But don’t use Windows or Blackberry. There isn’t the editing or social media software for them.
If money is no object, I’d reckon my colleague Steven suggest a Google Pixel 2 phone. Cost: Around £700.
Pixel 2 Phone (2017) by Google, G011A 64GB, 5″ inch SIM-free Factory Unlocked Android 4G/LTE Smartphone (Just Black)
I’d recommend a Samsung Galaxy S7. Cost: Around £400.
Or if you are after a tablet, the ipad will suffice. Cost: Around £300.
Sound and shooting extras
A tripod is a good idea. A pocket one will work just fine. Cost: around £10.
A Rode Smartlav clip-on microphone is handy to improve noise and has been roadtested by Steven. Cost: Around £50.
As an optional extra, a cable extension for the Rode Smartlav clip-on mic is an idea. Cost around £18.
Shooting video can be a drain on your phone battery. So, a powerbank you can plug in to top-up your charge is always a good idea.
You’ve a choice of editing software. For ios, you can use imovie which is free. Or you can go for kinemaster which is ios or android. There is a free version. That’ll do great things and if you can live with the kinemaster logo in the top right corner even better. But the Pro version gives you extra resources to draw from and is worth it, frankly. You can get it for £23.25 a year if you pay upfront or about £3 a month pay-as-you-go. Cost: From free to up to £23.25 a year.
There are sound libraries available that charge a subscription. But there are also creative commons options which allow you to use for free so long as you fulfil some simple criteria. Crediting at the end, for example, is common. I’ve blogged about this here. Cost: free.
Our workshops help you to plan, shoot, edit, add music and text and post at the right length and in the right place. Give me a shout for more @danslee on Twitter or email@example.com.
ESSENTIAL VIDEO SKILLS FOR COMMS
SKILLS YOU’LL NEED FOR LIVE VIDEO
London on February 2. More here.
Pic credit: Kurt Clark / Flickr
Three years ago when we started to train people on how and when to use video for comms it felt like the early days.
The business case was there and the stats pointed clearly why it was a massively important comms channel. But examples were still thin on the ground. That’s all changed. There are more and more effective videos to be found.
Here are five that caught my eye over the last few months. Shot in-house. Engaging. Funny at times. Sad at others. This isn’t hard.
Being a real voice
Newcastle City Council are the Martin Scorcese of public sector video. They are sketching a new language on how to use the medium. They are letting real people speak. Sometimes those real people work for the council. Sometimes it has rough edges. But the rough edges make the content work.
Being a 360-degree Red Arrows watcher
I’ve long argued that content on social media shouldn’t always be call-to-action. It should be mixed. So, when the RAF’s Red Arrows came to town the day was a celebration. This 360 video catches the jets but so much more. It captures the crowd, the enthusiasm and the comms officer filming. But that’s fine. Good work Denbighshire Council.
Being eye-catching with a dancing GIF
Bath and North East Somerset Council have been good at video for a while. When they delivered a wheelie bin they were surprised to see a mobile resident. Marvellously, they also turned it into a GIF.
— B&NES Council (@bathnes) October 6, 2017
Being creative with Superheroes
Video isn’t just point and film a vox pop. You can be creative too. Here Kent Fire and Rescue have a more polished video that tells a story. Firefighters are secret super heroes. But you can be too if you test your smoke alarm.
Being a teller of an emotional story
The daughter of a police officer killed while on duty came to Bedfordshire Police to be the Chief Constable for the day. It was about the force saying ‘thank you’ and showing what being a police officer involved. It is a mix of video, stills, text, music and it works beautifully.
Can I help?
Over the past two-and-a-half years I’ve helped train more than 1,000 comms, PR, marketing and frontline people in when and how to use video. This has been delivered together with Steven Davies. It’s something I’m massively proud of. Full disclaimer: we’ve trained people from Newcastle City Council, Bath and North East Somerset and Kent Fire and Rescue.
You can find out more about our Essential Video Skills for Comms workshops here or shout me on Twitter @danslee and by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A good comms plan helps you to get to where you want to go… without one you are almost certainly going to fail.
You can fire a rocket into the sky and you might successfully hit the moon but the chances are you won’t.
Back in 1969 when NASA put a man on the moon they did so with research, resources, planning, science, evaluation and creativity. Without those elements they would have failed.
I’m going to tell you why I realised comms planning was a good thing.
There are many comms plans. This one is mine. You are free to use it. I’ve uploaded it to Google docs here.
Don’t do fig-leaf comms planning
Here’s a thing. I came to realise that comms planning was the most useful tool very slowly.
For 12-years I was a reporter. Forward planning was literally tomorrow lunchtime. It was the here and now of frontpage leads and by-lines.
Moving to communications, I wan’t sure about comms planning. Some people would demand a comms plan when all they actually wanted was eight pages of text to add to a submission.
“See?” They would say. “We’ve got comms covered.”
This fig-leaf comms planning drove me up the wall. Your work as an attachment that’s never looked at again will never work. There was a better way.
Why you should write a good comms plan
A good comms plan makes a difference.
It asks where you are now, where you want to go, who you want to talk to, where they’ll be, what’s the one thing you want them to do, how much worktime and money you have, how long you’ve got, how you’re going to evaluate to see if it has worked. It then looks at the tactics. In other words, the things you’ll do. The content you’ll write.
Comms planning is a tried and trusted process that leads you to the right answers. It may not be the poster that your client first demanded. But that’s okay. You’ll have something better than a poster.
It stops the ridiculous waste of ‘I want back of bus ads’ without the research into whether or not bus ads will work.
But before you sit down with the comms plan
This is the hard part. It can save a lot of time and spare blushes. The purpose of the comms plan is to help someone move from A to B. For example:
– Move from we need 20 new nurses to having 20 new nurses.
– Move from we need 100 sign-ups to we have 100 sign-ups.
– Move from we need 10 per cent fewer calls to the switchboard to have 10 per cent fewer calls to the switchboard.
But here is the tricky part. You need to put a number on the A and the B. Without that you won’t really know where you are and where you are going to. Like a driver with a map, you’ll be going round in circles.
You need – gently – to ask and challenge whoever is asking you for some PR and comms to go away and define where they are and where they want to go to. You need this to be done ahead of the comms planning session.
UK Government executive director of comms Alex Aiken is a big advocate for not doing comms without a business plan. I get that. It’s a handy rule of thumb.
You can’t write a comms plan if they don’t know where they are or where you are going.
And when you sit down with the comms plan
Here’s a simple rule. Have the people in the room who will make the key decisions and those who will carry them out. Four or five people? That’s fine. Just you and one other person? I wouldn’t bother. You want people to feel as though this is their comms plan.
As the comms person, you are facilitating. Time is of the essence. Spend no more than 15 minutes on each of the first nine elements. Set out the timings at the start. This way you won’t be distracted or go up a blind alley.
Find a place where you won’t be disturbed for a couple of hours. Put your phones away. A cup of tea or a drink. Some biscuits, maybe.
Oh, and two things are banned. The word ‘aewareness’. It means nothing. It is nebulous. Why do you want them to be aware? To volunteer? To sign-up? Ask. Challenge politely.
I’ve added timings to this. You can change them for something you are looking to do. It can be maybe 10 minutes far shorter for a small plan, for example. But having timings set out from the off can help keep you focussed.
Where are you now? (5 minutes)
You’ve done this before the meeting, so there’s no need to spend too long on this. This points out on the map where you are.
Where do you want to go and why? (5 minutes)
You’ve done this before the meeting too. This works out where you want to go. Why do it? Because a campaign to recruit 100 new nurses is different to one to recruit 10.
Who do you want to talk to and why? (10 minutes)
This is the part where you work out who you really want to talk to. So, for a campaign to recruit nurses it is members of the nursing profession. You want to talk to them so you can recruit them.
What’s the one thing you want them to do and why? (5 minutes)
Make this a call to action. You want the nurses to go to the recruitment website and apply.
Where do they hang out? (15 minutes)
This is the part where you work out how to reach them. Are there nursing forums or publications? Can you find them on Facebook with ‘nurse’ as a tag?
How much work time and money do you have to help you reach them? (15 minutes)
This is the part where you look at your resources. You may have a day a week of capacity, for example, and a budget of £500. If the budget is zero, this is the point where you establish this and frame if more is needed. If none is forthcoming, this is the point where you manage expectations.
How long have you got? (5 minutes)
How long do you have to recruit people? A month? Six months? 12-months? This sets the timeframe and gives a sense of panic and urgency if that’s needed.
When and how are you going to evaluate? (10 minutes)
This is critical. Be clear at the start so you can see if the campaign has been a success. If you are recruiting nurses, count the number of recruits. But if you just leave it at that you aren’t seeing the full picture. Why do you need to recruit nurses? Because you have to pay agency staff? And how much extra do they cost? £5,000 a year? And how many agency staff are you paying for now? So each one you recruit saves £5,000? So if you recruit 10 you are saving £50,000? This is the point where you may be able to loosen the purse strings if this is needed. In addition, ask what the difference to the organisation will be if the campaign is a success. Will more nurses bring more capacity? How many hours a week? Ask questions. Suggest the research is done. Everyone is busy. But without this data you are flying blind.
Once you’ve got a handle on what metrics you’ll count, look to keep tabs on it. A year-long campaign to cut recruit nurses should be checked at regular stages to see what tweaks are needed.
Who are you going to tell that you are doing this so you can tell them how it has gone? (5 minutes)
This is a simple one. When you run a Marathon you make a public declaration so you need to follow through. Is it your boss? The client’s boss? Work out who that person is.
Whats the timeline of tactics for it all? (15 minutes)
This is something you can start in the session but you may need to work up away from the planning session. Tactics are all the things you’ll look to do. The posters, the Facebook ads, the LinkedIn discussion.
Picture credit: informedmag / Flickr https://informedmag.com/