An event for public sector comms people was staged in Cardiff. There was a lorry load of learning. Here's a snapshot from one of the organisers.
by Will Barker
Last week in Cardiff saw the culmination of a good few months of work for Kate Hammond (@GlamHamm) and myself (@willdotbarker) – yes Will and Kate and no, not that Will and Kate – at our #PSdigital conference that we’d set out to organise on behalf of 1000 Lives Improvement and Public Health Wales.
Cool, but what exactly was #PSdigital?
We’re glad you asked (I’d recommend taking a look at the hashtag or this Storify if you have five minutes, which you probably do as you’re reading this blog).
#PSdigital brought together a whole bunch of great communications professionals from inside NHS Wales, the wider public sector in Wales and colleagues from the third sector to join together and take a look at digital communications, learning from some of those leading the way outside of the public sector and giving those in the room on the day some great case studies, some practical tips to take back to the office and a chance to discuss things that we’re all experiencing when it comes to digital communications, particularly things that we’re experiencing within Wales.
We had a lineup of 15 awesome speakers; from Confused.com and JustGiving to Jeremy Waite and BBC Wales, all giving those in the room some genuinely outstanding advice and practical tips to take away in the form of our ‘#PSdigital Top Tips’ which we handed out to those attending.
‘Not much use to me, I didn’t attend’ I hear you say.
Well, fear not because I’m going to list out top 10 #PSdigital tips below and hopefully give you a bit of context around them. It won’t be quite as awesome as it was if you were there on the day, but hopefully it will be close.
Here we go…
1. Social media is the best listening tool in the world. Take time to listen and you will learn a lot.
A common theme throughout the day. Often we can get the best out of our audience and get the best out of potential conversations by listening first, both offline and online, and making sure we’re being relevant when we enter into conversations.
2. Always ask yourself: who’s my audience? What are they looking for? Where are they looking for it?
Quite simply, what’s the point of doing anything if it isn’t what your audience is going to want, need or enjoy? Don’t create content for you, create it for your audience.
3. Ignore the low numbers in your Welsh language engagement, instead focus on the behavior of your Welsh audience – who are they and what do they respond to?
Obviously relevant to those working in Wales, but this is a problem many are having. Instead of ‘doing Welsh language’ as a tickbox exercise, why not spend the time to engage those using the channels your on for a meaningful conversation? This could be applied to most places where you have a low audience count and low engagement.
4. “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want”. That is as true in life as it is in business, no matter what your job title is.
Profound? Or actually just common sense? Use your digital channels to help the people you’re serving, and you’re likely to see a much better return and probably more likely to achieve your objectives, instead of pushing, pushing and pushing things out and giving nothing back in return.
5. Experiment with your social media. Analyse and iterate or repeat!
See a piece of content is doing well? Do more. Think something is going to be awesome and it flops? Learn fast. Fail fast. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but remember what your audience is looking for.
6. Get to know the people and personalities behind the Hyperlocals and treat them with the same respect you give journalists.
We were lucky to have three leading voices in Hyperlocal journalism in the room to give us insights into the rise of Hyperlocal and how us as communications professionals could benefit. It’s clear that if you want to target a well engaged and specific audience, then you don’t want to oversee the relevant Hyperlocal.
7. Don’t compete for a moment in time, but for meaning and relevancy. Choosing consistency of messaging over virality will yield more long-term results.
We all know that being successful online takes time, it takes resource and it takes dedication. Yes, we would all like something to go big and to reach thousands of people, but the long game is going to reap a lot more reward for you if you stick at it.
8. Digital life moves pretty fast. Stop and look around or you will miss a good opportunity.
We’re forever evolving and forever having to adapt. We haven’t ‘done digital’ because we have Twitter and Facebook set up, we need to be looking for opportunities; whether that’s to engage in conversations or whether that’s to experiment with new platforms. Be ready and willing to move with it.
9. Don’t take yourself too seriously. There will always be people that don’t agree with what you say.
How many times have you thought ‘I won’t post that, all we’ll get is abuse or negativity’? Don’t let yourself get restricted by negativity; use it as an opportunity to engage and change perceptions through creative content and consistent messaging.
Ok, so there are the top 10 takeaways from #PSdigital. So what next?
I’m glad you asked that, too. We want to keep the brilliant conversation around digital right across the public sector going. We want to create a network where we can all ask questions about something we’re not sure about and give each other answers, or say ‘I’ve got something great here and here’s how you can do the same in your organisation’.
So we’ve set up a Facebook group to make that happen. We’d love for you to join it and get involved in the ongoing conversations happening around digital comms.
Join the Facebook group: Public Sector Digital Comms Network.
Want to know the speakers and the tweeters in the room on the day? See this Twitter list and check the #PSdigital hashtag.
Got a question about #PSdigital? We’d love to hear it. Tweet us at @willdotbarker and @GlamHamm.