My blog is one year old this month and in that year I have learnt an enormous amount, so I thought it would be timely to thank some of the people who've helped me.
Pete Ashton is the reason I started blogging. Specifically, this post by Paul Bradshaw where Pete summed up why Joanna Geary had got a new job on The Times made something click in my mind. One of the sentences he wrote: "I persuaded her to blog because I thought it’d be useful for her career, but I do that with everyone" really stood out. It made me realise that through blogging I had a chance to learn a new skill, set myself apart career-wise and let people know what I thought.
Through numerous conversations with Nick Booth, I've learnt an immeasurable about social media and the mentality of collaboration. He also taught me the phrase JFDI or Just F***ing Do it, which is probably one of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard and one that I think about frequently when I feel hesitant about new projects.
Rob Brown of from the brilliant PR Media Blog suggested I do shorter, more frequent posts so that people would get into the habit of visiting my blog regularly. I'm still working on that one (!) but I do try to do at least three posts a month. Ideally I'd be doing three a week, but sometimes life (and the job I'm paid to do) gets in the way.
Many other people have given me a hand by retweeting my links, posting useful articles and commenting on my blog. Thank you to everyone who has helped me learn to blog over the past year.
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Saturday, 6 March 2010
One of the other inspiring sessions at the NHF Marketing and Communications Conference was from Lynda Thomas, Director of External Affairs, at Macmillan Cancer Support.
She talked about how Macmillan had approached re-branding their organisation a couple of years ago, recognising that it was becoming more competitive to raise money and that the public's relationship with charities was changing - people don't just want to donate, they want to engage.
They spent about 18 months working with external consultants carrying out market and internal research crucial thing she said was that it wasn't about a new logo, font or website - it had to come from a complete culture change within the charity.
Macmillan decided to relaunch with a new logo, a new ambition, and new values. It also decided to use social media to engage further with its customers. I think landlords can use social media in the same way and give a voice to their customers. When organisations start having a public conversation with their customers, there is always a risk but I think they are far outweighed by the benefits.
Macmillan, like all social housing providers, is non-profit organisation, but unlike social landlords, the people it supports (people living with cancer and their families) are very vocal and passionate about the brand. Social housing providers tend to find their customers are fairly quiet when they are happy with your service but when you make mistakes, it will end up in the press or they will tell other customers, both of which damage your reputation.
Social media gives a voice to those who are happy with your service as well and allows customers
to see the organisation is honest. Landlords genuinely value feedback and involvement - perhaps more than any other type of organisation - but customers need to see and hear about how that has improved services.
It's not an easy journey for landlords because it takes time, energy, money and confidence but I think it's a path worth following. It's worked for Macmillan: since they rebranded, more people get involved with them than any other charity.
It's taken me a little while to write up my notes from the NHF Marketing and Communications Conference in February 2010 (I've been busy with Brum Twestival!) but here's the first of a two parter.
One of the workshops I attended was about writing winning awards. Rosemarie Anderson, Chief Executive of Rockingham Forest Housing Association, talked about how they'd won the 2009 national What We Are Proud Of award - even though they are a small housing association, with only 20 staff.
She said the benefits of winning awards include media coverage, staff morale, cementing relationships with partners, meeting strategic priorities and business opportunities.
But it's important not to just apply for awards willy-nilly. They can take a lot of time (and sometimes money) out of the organisation and the business case needs to be solid.
Once the business case has been made, the organisation needs to go through these steps:
- Plan ahead – it takes much longer than you think
- Assemble project team – ensure everyone is aware in the business of who is managing award submission and what is required of individuals. (Don’t delegate to the most junior team member.)
- What makes your project unique?
- Put in context, tell the story of the organisation
- Use partner and customer feedback
- Read the criteria and stick to it – dates, word count, images, presentation
- Be creative – use film, supporting materials (clearly labelled), images#
- Grab attention with first two pars
- EVIDENCE – statistics, surveys, results!
- Include press cuttings, coverage if you can – but not pages and pages. A summary page and two or three of the strongest.
- Have your PR ready to roll if you win.
- Thank everyone and CELEBRATE!
- Take a long term view – if you don’t win, get shortlisted, evaluate, was it still useful exercise?
- Miss the deadline
- Make typos or mistakes
- Leave out outcomes – most important bit
- Give up – have another go next year!