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What a pleasure it was to join the LGcomms Public Sector Communications Academy 2018 this week in our hometown of Birmingham, sharing, learning, and making new connections.

It's always fascinating to join our local government communications and digital team peers to talk all things communications and how social media tactics fit into today's strategic plans. Thanks to @LGcomms for hosting such a fantastic event.

Needless to say, the public sector environment remains tough with limited budgets and resources, but the drive to innovate when it comes to comms spurred on by these cuts is impressive.

Now, if you want to re-live the huge amount of content shared across both days from the event tweet by tweet, take a few minutes to scroll through the #CommsAcad hashtag feed.

There was ton of valuable information shared covering all angles of public sector communications, so we thought we'd pull out just a few highlights and takeaways for social media.

Several key themes stood out for us over the 2-day event; Reputation and Emergency Comms, Resident Engagement, Digital Skills, and sharing Success Stories. Here's our quick recap and thoughts.

Reputation & Emergency Communications

Crisis events including the Salisbury poisoning and Grenfell Tower fire help reiterate the importance of emergency communications plans, and the impact such events can have on the reputation of the local authorities involved.

  • Ensure you've considered the People, Process and Technology you require to have in place.
  • Adoption of frameworks such as the PRIMER (Plan, Rehearse, Implement, Maintain, Evaluate, Recover) are enormously helpful.
  • Build some level of relationship with other stakeholders and agencies before you need them in an emergency situation.
  • Use social media for digital comms but also messaging apps such as WhatsApp to keep local residents informed.

Resident Engagement

Naturally, resident engagement in all shapes and forms was mentioned throughout the event. It's worth recapping:

  • The continued importance of resident engagement - Strategy (lead), Communicate (speak) and Engage (listen).
  • Engagement is not transactional! Engagement is about building relationships with the people and communities served. It's about building trust. It's more important now than ever before.
  • Remember that developing resident engagement is a two-way channel. As a result, Comms teams are seeking to work with Customer Service teams to reply to resident enquiries in a timely manner and ensure residents feel that they are being heard.

Embedding engagement

Growing critical digital media skills

We had the pleasure of supporting Tiffany St James alongside Helen Reynolds to discuss the critical digital media skills today's comms teams are facing. Key highlights include:

  • Progression of comms teams from doers to enablers. The strategy doesn't change (still have the same goals and objectives) but the tactics can change (comms can empower others across the council when it comes to social media).
  • Think about Transmedia - don't post the exact same thing to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Instead, tailor the content to suit the nuances of each social media network and what your objective is in terms of audience engagement.
  • Facebook advertising and boosting is on the rise as teams see tangible results, especially in delivering on objectives in social worker, fostering and adoption recruitment. It can be tricky to prove the detailed ROI but that can be ok so long as the objective is being achieved.
The environment is changing us from comms do-ers to comms enablers

Social media in community-wide campaigns

It's worth mentioning Wigan Council's outcomes surrounding its campaign, 'The Deal'. A fascinating journey of turning required budget cuts into positive outcomes for its community by focusing on two-way engagement and commitments between the council and its residents.

  • According to PR Week, Wigan Council was the #25 most active local authority on Twitter, but impressively the #3 most effective local authority on Twitter. A reflection of the full spectrum of communications surrounding the campaign in which social media was a key part.
  • Social media playing an important role in 'The Deal', with the council sharing successes and positive stories, and engaging with the community, mainly on Twitter.
Wigan Council, The Deal, PR Week, Twitter

So that's our key thoughts from the event. Please let us know your favourite takeaways, we'd love to hear what you think. Tweet us @CrowdControlHQ


Download the Guide - New Opportunities for Social Media in Local Government

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