Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Live Tweeting: what I've learnt

A couple of weeks ago I live tweeted one of Wolverhampton Homes' Get Togethers. Our Get Togethers are opportunities for tenants to get involved and tell us what they think on different issues. They are held four times a year in four areas of Wolverhampton.

The aim of the Get Togethers is to widen the pool of people who get involved, by holding the events in the evening, moving them around the city, and giving tenants more casual, 'fun' opportunities to tell us what they think. But there are still lots of tenants who can't (or don't want to) attend.

I wanted to give those tenants a chance to share their opinion. I decided to live tweet one of the Get Togethers, using the hashtag #whgt. The subject was 'who should be given Council housing?' - a very emotive subject and one which had previously generated a lot of comments online. (See this facebook conversation.) This is what I've learnt:
  1. Check your internet access first - we were using a dongle and a mobile phone and at our first Get Together, the Wednesfield one, they wouldn't work - cue much embarassment! I should have taken the dongle and phone to the community centre to check they would have reception before the big day. Fortunately, there was another Get Together the following day at St Joseph's Church Hall, in Merry Hill. Our fab IT team brought along their dongle and booster and we had access.
  2. Be prepared for a lot of tweeting - I didn't tweet literally everything but most of the key questions. I wanted to give our Twitter followers an experience as close to actually being there as possible, so there was a lot of typing!
  3. Tweet pics - I tweeted one, of the outside of the venue, but I think more would have been good and made our stream more engaging. It would be good if there was two people tweeting: one could tweet pictures and the other could do the words.
  4. Make people aware you might not be able to chat while doing it - my colleagues are a lovely, sociable bunch and they kept coming up to me to ask how it's going. It was a bit tricky to respond without being rude, while trying to respond to what people were saying on Twitter.
  5.  Publicise your hashtag first - we promoted it on Twitter, facebook, at the venue, through our news stories and on our website. I think for the next Get Togethers we'll stick to the same hashtag so it starts to get known.
We had some really useful comments in response - including some from a tenant which suggested different ways we could advertise properties to reduce refusals. That is just the kind of valuable feedback that we are looking for from the Get Togethers. We had five people respond to us in total - not a great amount admittedly - but the quality of the conversation definitely made it worthwhile. As with all our social media, we take an experimental approach and on this occasion, I'd say it was a success.

Monday, 23 May 2011

How Ryan Giggs can repair his reputation

Who would swap places with Ryan Giggs right now? The famously private footballer finds himself at the centre of a media storm after allegedly taking out a super injunction to prevent  reports of an (again, alleged) affair with Big Brother star Imogen Thomas.

Following the Scottish Sunday Herald's front page yesterday and increasing internet reports linking Giggs to the story, MP John Hemming used parliamentary privilege to name him today.

Whether Giggs has had an affair, whether it was him who took out the injunction, his reputation is in tatters. How can he repair it?

If he hasn't had the affair, the answer is simple. He should make a short statement through his management saying that it is not him and leave the media storm to move on.

If he has had the affair it is more tricky but he can still bounce back. His years of keeping his head down and excelling at his career will not quickly be forgotten. I would advise him to do a one on one televised interview on a programme like This Morning this week - tomorrow if possible but if not certainly before Saturday's Champions League final.

He needs to apologise publicly to his wife and to Thomas for the distress he has caused them. He should admit that seeking to control the media in this day and age, is impossible and he shouldn't have sought the super injunction. He should explain that he took that course of action through fear of further hurting his family and that he is asking for their forgiveness. He should halt all legal action against Twitter and its users and take responsibility for his mistakes. His PR team need to work with him to practice his answers to every possible question.

By admitting his mistakes, he will win grudging respect and have an opportunity to explain what he has done.
Notoriously shy, he will likely feel very uncomfortable about being questioned about his private life, but without giving the public the opportunity to hear his side and a genuine apology, he will struggle to rebuild his reputation.

That reputation was previously good; while others were sleeping with prostitutes or texting pictures they shouldn't, he was living the quiet life and winning medals for his club. Humans make mistakes - that's part of life, and it is for his family to decide whether he should be forgiven. It may not be forgotten by the media but if he gets his act together, it will certainly pass.

 Image reproduced from Twitpic, posted by @SportingIntel.
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