Benlowndes

a perspective on PR in social housing and regeneration

Purdah principles for modern comms

It’s that time of year when public sector comms practitioners must carefully consider all activity to ensure that they are not seen to compromise their neutrality or favour any political group as the local and European elections approach.

This will be the last ‘purdah’ period before the Scottish referendum in September and next year’s general election, when we can rightly expect to see stringent guidelines which will affect promotional activity, speaking engagements, events, political visits and, in some cases, even business decisions.

I’ve blogged about purdah before and have become used to managing communications around this time. The guidelines are looked at in time for every election and I was interested to read this blog post from former local government comms pro Dan Slee who provides some pointers around social media. Should give food for thought for those who manage Twitter, Facebook and other accounts, to go with the official guidance that is issued.

@SouthWestUK drums up support for business on Twitter

I was fascinated to read South West CIPR chair Sarah Pinch’s recent blog post about a campaign which has started since the terrible weather we’ve endured propelled the South West into the headlines.

Sarah is calling for support for a Twitter campaign started by Maureen McAllister using the hashtag #openforbusiness to highlight the fact that life is continuing here, despite the deluge.

It has generated traction with people, businesses and media organisations from across the South West using it to remind people that the region is not completely cut off by the elements. I had a look at some results generated by up to 2,000 tweets on the topic using the tool Tweetbinder, which can be used analyse hashtags used in campaigns. Have a look at the dashboard and some of the stats, which includes some data on reach, influence and original tweets and content (as opposed to retweets and ‘noise’).

Here’s another blog post from another comms professional who has helped the campaign recently. Good to see people taking some positive steps to support the South West. I’ll be offering my support to see if it can make a difference.

Links I like 14.01.20

3 Things We Should Learn From Benefits Street – Paul Taylor blog
Here’s a good post from Bromford’s Paul Taylor about the commentary that has followed Benefits Street on Channel 4. Chimes with many of my reactions when I watched the programme (without looking at Twitter) last week and I’ve made some comments beneath his piece. What does anyone else think about the programme?

Links I like 13.10.29

Three Ways To Get Cool Stuff Done Quickly At Work – Paul Taylor blog
Ever wondered how you’re going to get ‘that idea’ off the ground, when obstacles litter the path to its progress? It’s the sort of thing Bromford‘s Paul Taylor and Monmouthshire County Council’s Helen Reynolds have touched on before, so it’s only right they’ve come together on this post which has generated good comments since it was first written. I particularly like the tactic of asking opponents of a decent proposal to develop a business case for not doing something to demonstrate the case against it. After all, if an idea is good enough to fly…
Follow these guys on Twitter: @PaulBromford and @HelReynolds.

Media say old habits remain with ‘new’ PR

It’s beyond doubt that PR has changed massively, and continues to do so, thanks to the opportunities created by digital communications and the diversification of traditional media.

CIPR president-elect Stephen Waddington asked a room full of comms people at the South West Communicators’ Conference in Bristol recently how many had bought a newspaper that morning, and only one confirmed that they had. It’s possible that some people in the room were too busy on their tablets or smart phones to realise he was asking them a question. But he had made the key point; that the media is changing rapidly and communicators must respond to this. Many operators in the South West are rising to this challenge with some great work, as Bristol agency Spirit demonstrated with its support for the Gromit Unleashed campaign in the city.

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Traffic tweets make the news

I was one of a group of commuters who took to Twitter after being held up in traffic caused by a survey on the way into Bristol this week. I set off early yesterday to start a busy week and hit an hour-long crawl coming off Wells Road as drivers were ushered onto the roadside and asked to complete a census.

I was late, and not happy, and my tweet said as much.

I wasn’t the only one to do this, as the Western Daily Press and Bristol Post reported today.

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Acrobats’ ambush part of a day’s work in Bristol

The weird and wonderful happenings in Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone continue to generate headlines on a local and national stage.

This video of the BBC’s Dave Harvey in the thick of it with the acrobats at Creative Common was one of the more interesting pieces of coverage on the day of the Spending Review statement in Parliament. His piece focused on the contribution creativity and a quality environment can make to economic growth. Bristol’s Enterprise Zone puts these attributes at centre stage as part of the long-term plans to generate 17,000 creative jobs in the city. The result has been nearly 14,000 visitors to Creative Common and enough work for nearly 60 people to be employed in its first year. One hundred thousand people are expected over the next nine months, which makes what’s happening here pretty difficult to ignore.

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Links I like 13.06.25

Insights into site search – Government Digital Service
The digital team at the Cabinet Office blogs every day about its work to bring the websites of all Government departments and their sponsor bodies under the single Gov.uk banner. It’s a huge and impressive undertaking which has seen tens of thousands of documents uploaded in recent months, including a few that relate to my work. This post talks about getting the search function right by striking the balance between those who are familiar with the former Government sites and those who have no connection with them and need to access services or information without having to dig for it. The analysis of the ‘long tail’ created by the thousands of search terms outlines the task ahead of them.

Knowledge Hub no more

More than two years after I blogged about the Communities of Practice online networking platform, people are expressing their disappointment that its successor the Knowledge Hub is likely to be closed down.

Dan Slee’s post yesterday is one of a growing number from over the last few weeks (I’ve left a comment under his post, so won’t repeat it here). If you have something to add to the debate, check out the latest and have a say.

Bristol’s ‘pop up’ creative hub starts with a bang

I attended the launch last night of a creative venture which has transformed a former car park near Bristol Temple Meads and was blown away by the results.

Nine months’ of live entertainment has kicked off in a big tent near where I work in Temple Quay, led by Creative Common and attended by hundreds of Bristolians last night.

They were invited into the tent on Plot 3 to stand and watch BIANCO, a fast-moving two hour display of high wire-walking, trapeze swinging, fire eating and live music.

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