Tiny, impromptu session on how journalism is changing
This was an exploratory session on how in govt digital campaigns are planned, budgeted, delivered in different departments. Led by Tim Hood, Yoosk.com. (These notes are selective hearing by @neillyneil. YMMV)
Starter for ten on the whiteboard - see photo http://ukgc10.tumblr.com/post/349071859/digital-campaigns-in-government
Also these Qs:
1. How do digital campaigns get initiated?
@Jkerrstevens DH & @neillyneil BIS - depends on the organisation, the campaign, the structure; but typically:
Policy officials - ‘let’s have a wiki and a twitter account!’
Press office / strategic grid - digital team spots opportunity and moves in
Marketing - campaigns; using PR agencies or in house
Embedded comms reps in policy areas
Roger Oldham - MoJ
“Customer led integrated communications culture is some way off”
& comms isn’t involved early enough in policy cycle
Private sector experience is the same - rarely top-down; usually bottom up, spotting opportunities.
Justin, DH - it’s changing in DH, policy teams now involving comms folk earlier; good network of embeds.
But digital is only part of it; and still small. Single digital strategy for a health issue is too small - need trad media alongside; but digital adds value.
Off the record (not DH view) a lot of this happens under the radar to experiemtn, try things out.
More thought needs to go into digital strategy - that negative coverage of issues online is an opportunity to engage, not to be ignored.
@neilfranklin - experiences (again, personal views only):
No 10 - campaigns come about v quickly, v agile
DWP - less agile; comes from comms teams and is planned. Have to work hard to get digital embedded in the comms process early enough, not just the policy process. Risk is digital ends up being layered over the top.
Selling in digital concepts is difficult - many civil servants don’t have access to the tools, let alone experience.
@neillyneil - Also need to target better; need better data on how to choose the opportunities for digital, where best to focus resources. Consultations or online PR?
Need to get absolute clarity on what you want out of it - opinions back in? Word of mouth out?
And what counts as success - numbers? Quality? Right people? And what happens with the information afterwards? Resourced to do it?
(Justin - resource allocation in DH can be measured in nurses. Cost of someone full time to do community management is approx 2 nurses.)
Tim : Is digital activity sometimes done as an experiment just because it’s cheap?
Group says yes.
E.g. Youtube vids which nobody sees
E.g. Facebook pages which nobody joins
…follow through is important and so is planing for exit strategy. A goodbye tweet when it ends?
PR agencies pitch setting up new stuff; but what happens when it’s finished? Who runs it?
Campaigns often about acquisition or awareness. Social media is about relationships. Can use soc med to talk about awareness but it’s also got to be engagement.
Also about brand value - hard to measure a stat like “50 more people are happier about what we’re doing as a result of relationship with us via online community”. Digital can help warm people up to offline/other messages. Intangible.
But digital aspects of campaign can be tied to KPIs and objectives.
When people come in with ideas about digital, having seen the Obama stuff, how do you turn that into constructive plan without dampening their spirits? Turn their enthusiasm into real value.
[Off topic asides about NHS choices, mostly outside the door and my earshot]
2. Who owns them?
Special Advisers? Ministers? Heads of comms? Heads of engagement?
[joke] Depends if it’s a success or failure.
Really, depends on the idea source. Most heads of comms don’t get digital, so it needs to go over their heads or under their radar.
Often end up at COI in places where there aren’t the in house skills.
Me - at BIS, digital team probably does have the power to wrestle control over campaigns with wonky digital plans. We monitor the briefs going out to PR agencies and the proposals that come back in, and intervene if necessary - or stand back when they’re good.
Uh-oh, a conversation about Twitter. I’m keeping out of this one.
Neil F - use the right tools for the right job and DON’T FORGET ABOUT EMAIL. Woefully underused.
Tim - and mobile?
Justin - best used when geographically significant e.g. flooding.
A lot said about iphone apps which I missed -[at this point I’m distracted by trying to get a charger, battery dying. Tim Hood is crawling under the table - thanks Tim]
Roger - mobile is social. That’s the way it’s going. If we’re moving towards more continuous forms of marketing communications we need to be thinking about how to do so in a mobile friendly format and let people engage using mobiles. Needs to be front of mind in coming years.
How does decision to make an iphone app - say NHS drinks tracker - come about?
Demographics and the consumption habits? Stats on how many of the target audience use those devices?
Or is it that someone decides: this dept needs to make an iPhone app, we’re behind the curve. Not necessarily a bad thing - what can you do that doesn’t take long, shall we just try it?
iPhone app development for apps like NHS drinks tracker is about £20-30K - so maybe too expensive to do on experimental basis. But can argue that the cost of strategising about whether it’s worth doing is more of a waste of resource than JFDI…?
General disagreement in the room about this - whether JFDI or planning is the way. But consensus that some of the best stuff that’s happened in govt digital space lately has been on a punt, not cost benefit analysis.
“If you can get something done in 2 weeks that scopes out the idea and ends up with a prototype, then decide what to do with it…”
But imagine justifying it in a PQ / FOI - where’s the business case?
Civil servants - why don’t they take more risks? Jobs are safe, nobody gets fired.
Justin - him and @lesteph have reputation for taking risks at DIUS but in fact they had very supportive manager at SCS level backing them.
Neil - No 10 very thick skinned, great place to do risky stuff
Big issue with blame culture - OK you won’t get sacked, but it will affect your career.
But the risk takers make it possible for others - e.g. No 10 Twitter account - everyone else was able to point to that as their business case.
[…time ran out]
Digital campaigns in government
If @downingstreet can do it, it must be ok — WordPress “has brand awareness in Government”
A nice man from Google has given us a screen so we can see what we’re talking about
At the WordPress session. Anecdotally, it’s thought around 50% of govts around the cabinet table are using WP in some way or other. Great flexibility and quick deployment. BIS deployed within three days, and interim site lasted for three months before rebuild. Ideal for news-driven sites. However BIS are moving to a “proper” enterprise CMS system - issues around templates, metadata, admin interface and devolved publishing.
WordPress examples in Government
WordPress session started
@simond talks WordPress