ISSUE 13 _APR_ VS2

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					C O N N E C T I N G G O V E R N M E N T C O M M U N I C AT O R S


comms.gov
interview            on the move              out & about                headliner                 opinion
                                                                                                                      APRIL 2009




                                   Social networks are
                                    making the news
                                     Social media channels such as Twitter and Myspace are the
                                     hottest new tools in communications. Used correctly, they
                                     could offer big returns in government circles.
                                                                                                                   Advert of
                                 When a US Airways jet plunged into New York’s icy Hudson River in January,        the month
                             the way the story broke created nearly as many headlines as the crash itself.         Jonathan Orme, graphics officer
                                                                                                                   within HMRC in Liverpool,
  Dramatic scenes from the accident first appeared on social networking site Twitter, with an eye-witness
                                                                                                                   nominates the Doritos ad saying:
  uploading the photo of stranded passengers to TwitPic from his iPhone during the rescue.
                                                                                                                   “It’s a low-fi, home-made looking,
  Kim Worts, head of strategic communications at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS)     stop-motion animation that’s
  wasn’t surprised at this latest example of social media ‘coming of age’ as a news resource. Kim says: “We have   charming, funny, and refreshing.
  recognised the immediacy and flexibility of social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter in sending and    It's rumoured to have cost only
                                                                                                                   £10 to make! Very much part of
  receiving news, and include a number of these outlets in our communications mix.
                                                                                                                   the Youtube consumer-
  “Social media is a ‘two-way street’ to where people are and what they’re thinking. Using these channels can      generation.”
  aid DIUS and others in areas such as effective consultation, policy-making, marketing, and creating and
  shaping strategy.”
  Bringing social media to her workplace involved talking senior colleagues and ministers through the
  fundamentals and winning their buy-in. “This necessitated something of a culture shift,” says Kim, “but they
  all listened and were very receptive.
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 comms.gov                                   interview            on the move             out & about          headliner                opinion



    Continued from page 1                                on the move
                                                         The Cinderella of comms coming out of the shadows?
                       “With anything new
                         there are always
                                                         Supporting the profile of internal communications has been Darren Weale’s mission
                          concerns that mistakes         for the last two years. Now he’s moving on to another challenge.
                          can and will happen.                                                          communication we risk confusion, duplica-
                                                         The search is on for a successor for
                          But we were                                                                   tion, embarrassment and dithering.”
                                                         Darren, retiring co-coordinator of GCN’s
                          confident that the
                                                         internal comms network steering group.
                         advantages of                                                                  Darren has reorganised and rebuilt the
                      embracing social media             Darren is stepping down to focus on his        network steering group, which meets bi-
                would outweigh any                       new job in the Local Delivery Directorate      monthly to discuss the future of the net-
      disadvantages, so we chose to make our             with the Home Office.                          work. Members’ events are now held three
                        people ‘risk aware’ rather                                                      times a year. The last, hosted by the
                             than ‘risk averse’.”        “Right now I’m working on invigorating         Ministry of Defence (MoD), attracted 100
                                                         communications between policy officials        delegates from across government. It fea-
“…we were confident                  The story of        and the Government Offices,” he said “so       tured speakers from the BBC, MoD, and
the advantages of                      social media      something has to give.                         the armed services.
embracing social media                 at DIUS
                                       continues to      “This offers an opportunity for a new co-      “I’m proud that my successor will inherit a
would outweigh                                           ordinator with fresh ideas to take over.
                                     unfold. Kim                                                        more defined sense of purpose, a template
any disadvantages…”                says: “We have                                                       to run successful events and a stronger
                                                         “Internal comms is often called the
                               more and more             Cinderella of comms – perhaps once not         steering group. There are so many more
                        choices over what to use. So     as highly-regarded as the other comms          possibilities for the network,” he said.
      we’ll look at the metrics to see what does or      disciplines. That’s understand-                “The next co-ordinator will have a great
      doesn’t work in which areas, and refine our        able. But we are under-                         job!”
      processes to fit.”                                 mined if we can’t commu-                           If you’d like to get involved in the
                                                         nicate effectively within                             internal communications steering
      Kim and colleague Elliot Reuben presented
                                                         and between departments                                 group or perhaps even become
      to GCN on ‘Social media – a strategic
                                                         and with stakeholders.                                   the new chair, get in touch.
      approach’ in London on 26 March.
      View the presentations.                            Without good internal

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      Mind the credibility gap
      Getting the max out of the media
      Communications professionals in Scotland are determined to get their voices heard.

      Decibel levels went sky high when 30                  “Helping people overcome that credibility      The event in
      communicators met for a GCN event called              issue was one of the aims of the event. Our    March featured
      ‘Challenge and Change’ in Glasgow in March.           speakers emphasised the need for a deep        an introduction
                                                            understanding of audiences, media              to Engage and
      The group, many of them fairly new to their           preferences and promoting greater              employee
      roles, jumped at the chance to air their              dialogue. Applying the Engage principles,      engagement tailored
                       views, swap stories and              communicators can provide policy               to the Scottish audience.
                            share experiences.              colleagues with that understanding.
“We share many                                                                                             Jane explained: “The
                          “Government                       “There is a huge appetite to learn more        changed political landscape in
of the same challenges      communicators                   about Engage so we’ll be looking at that in    Scotland has altered the relationship
such as feeling that        like to talk! But               more depth at an Insight event in              with Whitehall and Westminster – more
our advice is not always that’s what                        Edinburgh in June.”                            noticeably in some departments than others
                            networking is                                                                  – but it has implications for everyone. It
valued in the rest of     all about,” said                                                                 makes our jobs even more complex,
the business.”          Jane Robson, a                                                                       requiring us to be sensitive to changing
                         Communications                                                                          alliances and relationships.”
                    Manager for the Scottish
      Government and a member of the 12-                                                                             The network in Scotland has
      strong steering committee for Scotland.                                                                          nearly 200 members and is one
                                                                                                                         of the largest regional
      “A lot of us work on our own or in small                                                                             networks.
      groups, so it was good for us to get
      together. We discovered we share many of                                                                                Find out more about
      the same challenges, such as feeling that                                                                                 Engage and
      our advice is not always valued in the rest                                                                                employee
      of the business.                                                                                                            engagement.


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   Driving up customer service                                                                                                  “Together we have
                                                                                                                          identified opportunities
   How customer insight teams are using communications                                                                  to communicate messages
   to help establish excellence in customer service.                                                                             about what drives
   Customer insight and communications teams          great opportunities for communicating             two-way             customer satisfaction.”
   are working side-by-side at the Department         messages about our customers and what             communication
   for Work and Pensions (DWP) to keep staff          they’ve told us is important to them in the       is critical in
   fully briefed in its quest for exemplary           service they receive.                             embedding the key
   customer service.                                                                                    drivers of customer satisfaction at the very
                                                      “Comms colleagues have helped us by
                                                                                                        heart of our Department.”
                “We’ve been supported by all          linking these messages to activities such as
                   our colleagues in both             leadership development events.”                   Across Whitehall customer insight is high on
                      corporate and business                                                            the agenda. Matt Tee, Permanent Secretary –
                                                      A new Customer Charter will pull together
                        communication roles in                                                          Government Communications, has recently
                                                      policies, activities and processes from across
                          putting over the                                                              taken responsibility for embedding insight
                                                      DWP into an overarching strategy outlining
                            main messages,”                                                             into wider policy and delivery
                                                      the basics for achieving outstanding
                             says David Allan,                                                          communications, along with his other
                                                      customer satisfaction.
                              Head of Culture                                                           responsibilities. His team are now in the
                               and Capability,        A variety of channels have been used to put       process of setting up mechanisms to make
                                in the DWP’s          across customer insight messages, among           this happen.
                                 Customer             them DWPeople (the Department’s bi-
                                  Insight             monthly employee magazine) and the DWP            DWP is holding a customer insight
                                   directorate.       intranet. Managers have been supported in         conference in London on 16 July to share
                                                      leading team briefing sessions on customer        best practice.
                                  “Working
                                                      insight, including a DVD to help ‘start the
                                  together we                                                           Find out more about Customer Service
                                                      conversation’.
                                   have                                                                 Excellence (CSE), the government’s
                                    identified        David continues: “Staff tell us that good         standard for customer service.



        Have you got any stories for comms.gov? Drop an email to: gcn@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk
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   Self-assessment – it doesn’t have to be taxing!
   Evolve – a simple tool to help reveal a true picture of your communications skills – is
   catching on as more people see how it can help them develop their careers.

   When you look in the metaphorical mirror          set aside time to do it properly – you have        “For example,
   at how you operate at work it can be hard         to find time away from the phone and               I am not a
   to be totally objective.                          other distractions of a busy office – but I        specialist in
                                                     think its worth it.”                               internal
                     Evolve was set up to                                                               communications
                     help people overcome            She has found that Evolve has helped her           but I’d like
                     this, with a structured         be completely honest with herself about            to learn more
                     online process to               the good (and the not so good) elements of         about it.”
                     highlight the state of          her skills set.
                     individuals’ different                                                             Lucy particularly likes
   professional communications skills.               “I am quite modest about my skills and             the job library element
                                                     how well I can do certain things,” she said.       which helps people to compare
   Lucy Rees, a Highways Agency press officer        “Evolve made me realise that actually I am         what they do with others in similar fields.
   based in Nottingham, has made a start on          excellent in some areas but weaker in              Completing Evolve also means you can
   getting ‘Evolved’ and has found it a real         others.                                            claim discounted membership to
   help, making clear where she shines and                                                              professional bodies such as the Chartered
   where there is room for development.                                                                 Institute of Public Relations, the Chartered
   “It’s a good opportunity to assess                                                                   Institue for Marketing and others.
   your strengths and                                                                                   Have you completed your Evolve
   weaknesses outside of                                                                                profile yet?
   the formal end-of-year
   evaluation,” she said.
                                                                                                  “It’s a good opportunity
   “It does mean you have to                                                                    to assess your strengths and
                                                                                              weaknesses outside of the formal
                                                                                                  end-of-year evaluation.”
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                         comms.gov                   C O N N E C T I N G G O V E R N M E N T C O M M U N I C AT O R S

                                                     We’d like to hear your news, views and opinions.

                                                     Email us at:
                                                     gcn@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk
                                                     020 7276 2724

                                                     Editor: Anne Graham




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