How I learned to stop worrying and love social media


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LGiU Scotland’s Kim Fellows recently attended her first National Communications Academy meeting – here she reports back on the experience.

For me, it was great to be immersed in the world of local government and public sector communications teams. Marketing is my first love having spent a considerable part of my career in marketing before working in the civil service, so being with the professionals who speak my language was lovely and meeting the teams representing councils and other public bodies in Scotland was good and helped me to put names to faces.

Hearing the presenters talk about their twenty-year careers made me feel like a bit of a granny with a 40-year plus career, especially as far as social media is concerned, but more on that later. Presenters gave examples from far and wide; Donacaster and Falkirk Councils and Scottish Water were mentioned to name a few. Organisations talked about being brave and bold using a wide variety of social media platforms with impressive results on public engagement.

Additional examples Kirklees Council, South Yorkshire Police and NHS Blood Donors demonstrated to me that communications professionals have developed tailored, fun, funny and innovative ways of delivering the messages to their own target audiences. However, and most importantly, the examples shared are making a real measurable difference in peoples lives – from a 6% increase in blood donations from targeted groups to an 18% decrease in house fires.

One of the speakers gave a quick summary of the key issues: have a plan, support your team, be awesome, decide what you want to do and how you want to do it. Be clear on what you want to achieve and report how well you are delivering against plan.

From the examples, discussions and questions it was evident campaigns need to be local, regional, national and international because you cannot always predict events, dear boy. Who would have thought the sleepy town of Salisbury would have been thrust into the limelight, or a suspected bird flu death would land on a beach in Fife?

Events like those go to the teams picking up fly tipping in one street to news agencies around the world in a blink of an eye and behind those stories are hard working communications teams in public services the length and breathe of the UK. On that note, congratulations to Edinburgh City council who won the inaugural campaign prize for “Our Edinburgh” project and this was named best campaign in 2017.

Such inspiring work and really welcoming people. In conclusion, the recurring point for me was: be human if you can be. It was the human interest hooks that in these pressured, constantly changing 24-hour information times, get people involved. In addition – keep learning, evolving and reinventing yourself and your team.

On that note, this silver surfer resolved to learn to tweet, I am sure my LGiU colleagues will be pleased although they will have to teach me.