There were more than half a dozen around the table. On the face of it, I quietly reflected that this was worthy but what was the point?
My misgivings were answered by a bright community worker. He told the story of a hypothetical man aged 66 who had just lost his wife. He may start drinking. He may start getting ill and see his GP. He may start being a nuisance to neighbours and the housing authority and police may get involved. All of this costs the taxpayer spiralling amounts of money. Suddenly, the project came alive. We could attach a financial value to the benefit it brought.
“Oh no,” another voice around the table said. “We would never work that out. That’s not what we do.”
But it’s the voice of the bright spark we need to listen to and the naysayer we don’t.
I’ve blogged before that we need to look finance in the eye. We absolutely need to justify what we do and using pounds shillings and pence.
Now, a massively useful tool is with us. The download ‘Measuring the Financial Value of a Subscriber’ has been published by Govdelivery at the Public Sector Communications conference in London. They’ve worked with respected communications consultant and academic Guy Dominy to work out the value of an email subscriber. The figures and approach, they say, translate to social media too.
Dominy nails it in the opening paragraph:
“The demand for financial accountability is now more than ever before one that public sector communications can no longer afford to ignore. This means we must not only be able to say exactly what we are investing in our communications but we must also place a financial value on the impact of our communications.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Forget likes, sign-ups and shares. The real test of how effective your communications is what people have done as a result. This is what AMEC’s Barcelona Principles addresses. After research, the Govdelivery whitepaper shows the value of an email subscriber is £1.51. That calculates the benefit to the individual, the organisation and society in general.
Here are some numbers to think on
Weather warnings – Every death on the roads costs £2 million, serious injury £200,000 and minor injury £23,000. They’re Department for Transport figures. So reducing this figure saves drivers, fire, police and NHS staff.
FOI – costs local government £35.5 million in staff time with 121,000 requests costing £293 each. Better communications to keep people informed can reduce this.
Children in care – the cost of sending children into the private sector can cost more than £120,000. The cost of fostering in-house can be less than £30,000.
They’re three of the hundreds of things that government – local or central – does but dig and you have numbers attached. Dominy argues that there is value in that:
“Conceptually, you multiply the probability a subscriber will carry out a particular action by the financial value of that action. If a subscriber has a one in ten chance of doing something that is worth £1,000 to you, that subscriber is worth £100 to you.”
The good news is that Dominy sets out a process to help you calculate the value to individuals, organisations and society.
To download the Govdelivery ‘Measuring the Financial Value of a Subscriber’ whitepaper by Guy Dominy click here.
Okay, so here’s three things that may just help you fall off your seat a little bit. Or at least raise an eyebrow.
Boom! Email can be a bit sexy. Not shiny hipster Apple sexy but in an effective way of communicating with people kind of a way.
Boom! I’m seeing one of the key roles of public sector communications is to point people at more efficient ways of contacting them that’s going to make them happier and save the organisation a stack of money.
Boom! Somebody somewhere in a restaurant had a service so very bad they spelt out their complaint in mustard and ketchup.
Here’s 20 things I learned from the excellent Govdelivery Delivering Real Value to the Public Through Effective Use of Digital Communications 2012 event at the National Audit Office.
1. Bad customer service can be repaid in ketchup
Gerald Power from Trapeze used this rather fabulous slide that told a rather splendid story. Person or persons go into restaurant with wipe-clean tables. Nobody comes and talks to them for half an hour. They spell this out in condiments, take a picture, post it to the web and leave. It’s a perfect tomato-based illustration of where we are with customer service in the social web.
If people just ain’t happy they’ll tell their friends. In creative ways that will go viral.
2. Email is…. sexy?
Actually, bad email is always bad news. The sort that clogs the inbox. The cc to far. But cutting through the rubbish, email does have results as a comms channel. Clearly, govdelivery are keen to stress their product which helps government deliver opt-in targeted emails on request on a whole bunch of subjects. But actually, there’s some pretty good results. Thinking it through, wouldn’t mind opting in as a parent for child-friendly events in the borough where I live. Or winter school closure updates.
3. Comms is essential
As one speaker said, the role of comms in delivering the changes needed in local government is central, fundamental and essential. That made me think a little.
Research by accountants PWC has worked out the cost of local government contact by residents to resolve a problem. For face-to-face it’s £10.53, for telephone it is £3.39, while post costs £12.10 and online just 8p.
One of the roles of comms teams is to help point people at the channel that’s most effective to help save money.
So point people at more efficient ways of talking to the council and you’ll earn your worth as a comms team. That’s just a bit important.
Here’s some other things from the event:
4. There are 650 UK gov services (bar the NHS) costing up to £9bn a year but 300 have no digital presence at all.
5. The new gov.uk domain has saved £36m savings pa by moving from directgov and businesslink.
6. There’s a government target to save up to £421m from #localgov by digitisation.
7. The UK gov could save up to £1.7bn by digitising more.
8. Investment in comms is critical for local government.
9. There’s no need for fancy emails. Simple, to the point and effective for MHRA audience.
10. The digital by default line for UK government isn’t just coming from digital people. It’s coming from the heart of civil service too.
11. There’s no universal best time for an email as each campaign is different.
12. Don’t automate social content. Re-shape it.
13. Only way to realise cashable benefits from digital is headcount reduction and estate rationalisation.
14. A quarter of UK adults and half of all teenagers with smartphones and 77 per cent have broadband.
16. Look to put #digital in BIG areas. Not little. Digital wedding bookings will save pence. Go to where you spend most cash.
17. LGA estmates £67.8m spent by #localgov on print public notices.
18. Public notices are an anachronism in a digital age.
19. 76 per cent of #localgov in an LGIU survey want to publish public notices online only while just 4 per cent want print.
20. There’s a debate about public notices being a subsidy to the print media. There a report.
Creative commons credit:
Bike: Kamshots http://www.flickr.com/photos/kamshots/193501258/sizes/o/