Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Inspiring a generation: what can housing communicators learn from London 2012?

I attended the NHF Communications and Marketing conference today. The highlight was a session by Greg Nugent, who was Director of Brand, Marketing and Culture for the London Olympics and Paralympics.
I still get a bit giddy when I think about London 2012 and how amazing it was; after the opening ceremony I wrote this.
One of my favourite memories of the Games was being on a train coming back from Manchester and the ticket collector telling all the travellers about the medals Team GB had won that day, complete with impressions of dancing horses. When he finished the carriage broke out in applause.
To have created a brand that was so loved that people randomly applauded it (and it was the brand, as well as the amazing athletes, that people loved) is nothing short of genius, especially given the shaky-ish reputation the London Games had in earlier years.
Greg told the story brilliantly but what stood out was the relentless focus on what customers wanted. At the end of every day, the team asked visitors how their experience had been and pushed them to give even the smallest criticism. The team then had between 11pm and 6am the next morning (when the park opened) to put it right for them. Spectator experience was just one element of the brand but it was probably the most important one. Greg made the point that inconsistency in the brand experience drives customers crazy.
A direct connection with spectators was also key to the brand's success. With a powerful customer database, they were able to release information direct to the public at the same time as the media, which built trust in the brand.
By the end of the Games, they had only had 13 serious complaints (so few that Seb Coe could personally call them back) and 89% of the country thought it was the greatest thing that had ever happened. Ever. Which is pretty cool.

So what can housing communicators learn from this? Well London 2012 came and went. We're lucky because our brands are in people's lives for a long time giving us even more of an opportunity to wow them. The challenge is to make that direct connection and relentlessly focus on what our customers want.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Blessed are the tweeters

Today the Church of England announced plans to tweet the activity of churches up and down the country. According to the C of E's press release, 'bishops, clergy, chaplains, youth workers and churchgoers from around the country will be given a week each to tweet about their life inside the Church of England' from the account @OurCofE.
The idea to share the honours over the year means that there'll hopefully be a diverse mix of activity in the tweets and followers will get a real insight into what goes on. I've blogged before about 24-hour tweetathons being a bit gimmicky and more style than substance but with a year-long project, the Church can make a real difference to how its seen. Rev Kate Bottley, who is a seasoned tweeter, is the first to take the reins and judging by her first day's posts, featuring selfies, pastoral visits and value crisps, followers are in for a treat.
What Twitter is brilliant for is sharing the tiny moments of human life that make up a picture of what an organisation is like. This account, as well as the many other C of E accounts aggregated in the Twurch of England, are a great way to tell the stories of church life and share the good and varied work that goes on in parishes all over England.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Do you have mental toughness?

When I went to the Communications Directors Forum in the Autumn I heard about a concept that really resonated with me: mental toughness.

Wikipedia describes mental toughness as a a term commonly used by coaches, sport psychologists, sport commentators, and business leaders describing a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances (such as difficult training or difficult competitive situations in games) and emerge without losing confidence.

It's more than resilience; it's about being able to perform to the best of your ability, consistently, regardless of the challenges you face. It's a fantastic quality to cultivate in business and generally in life.

Clough and Earle, who developed a test to measure mental toughness called MTQ48, describe the concept through the 4Cs:

  • Control - Life Control - I really believe I can do it. Emotional Control - I can manage my emotions and the emotions of others.
  •  Commitment - Goal Setting - I promise to do it - I like working to goals. Achieving - I'll do what it takes to keep my promises and achieve my goals.
  • Challenge - Risk Taking - I will push myself - I am driven to succeed. Learning from Experience - even setbacks are opportunities for learning. 
  • Confidence - Abilities - I believe I have the ability to do it - or can acquire the ability. Interpersonal Confidence - I can influence others - I can stand my ground if needed.
In January, when thoughts naturally turn to goals for the coming year, whether a sporting challenge, losing weight or meeting a career objective, an exploration of your own mental toughness can be a good place to start. Here's some questions to start you thinking:
  • Do you feel that you have mental toughness?
  • How have you demonstrated that over the past weeks and months?
  • How might mental toughness help you meet a challenge you're facing?
  • Is it something you'd like to develop more of? 
Mental toughness can be developed through experiences that put you under enough stress to grow and learn, but not enough to scare you off a similar challenge again. Could you develop your mental toughness in 2014?

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