public sector comms is at a cross-roads

Scotland has a vibrant public sector digital community. The night before the excellent Public Sector Forums Comms2point0 event (disclaimer: we're biased) there's an informal event to discuss the future of digital comms in local goverment. The #tartantm event organised by Carolyne Mitchell of South Lanarkshire Council aims to bring people together across Scotland - and further afield online - on Wednesday June 20. In this blog first posted here Carolyne talks about the reasons behind it.

By Carolyne Mitchell

The topic for this #tartantm on Wednesday June 20 is the result of a comment made by one of the speakers at the recent LGComms Academy and a conversation I had with Sarah Lay (@sarahlay) and Nigel Bishop (@ashroplad) when we held our own impromptu breakout session at said Academy.

Over the last few years, in the main, the public sector’s use of social media has followed this pattern:

  • a member of staff starts using social media personally
  • they see the benefits of using it organisationally
  • their suggestion hits the buffers due to fear of it all going wrong or IT rules and regulations, or a combination of both
  • in the social media tradition of JFDI they set up Facebook and Twitter accounts anyway, under the radar with the title of ‘pilot’, just in case
  • something happens, for example, severe snow and school closures, when those channels swing into action and prove their worth
  • senior management sees the light and everyone wants a piece of the action
  • IT decides it was their idea in the first place

However, the more we integrate social media into our day-to-day business the more of an organisational asset it becomes, but the more pinned down by the rules and regulations that come with being an asset, the less social media feels like the fun tool it started out as.

So here are a few points for consideration for the next #tartantm:

  • are the days of JFDI over
  • do we really need social media strategies and policies
  • if we go down the strategy/policy route how do we keep them agile enough for the social media landscape
  • what about the next big thing – how do we turn the laggards at the organisational helm into early adopters
  • do we have to
  • how do we keep tabs of all the organisation’s social media channels
  • do we need to
  • what should we have in place for when the original, enthusiastic social media evangelist moves on, with all the passwords, logins and knowledge
  • should we let organisational social media accounts have personality
  • what do we do when that personality moves on to another organisation and takes their followers with them

I’m sure plenty more questions and answers will arise in the course of the evening.

Oh, and please do join in the conversation because we have visiting dignitaries at the Glasgow venue. We have Nick Hill (@psfnick), Dan Slee (@danslee), Darren Caveney (@darrencaveney), Andy Mabbett (@pigsonthewing), Helen Reynolds (@HelReynolds), Ben Proctor (@likeaword) and Ally Hook (@allyhook)  who will all be in town for the PSCSF Facebook event the next day.

Things will kick off at 6pm as usual but more venues have still to be confirmed. Watch this space:

As ever, if you can’t make it along in person you can join in the conversation on the night using #tartantm.

Carolyne Mitchell is a communications officer at South Lanarkshire Council.

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