Now, for the avoidance of doubt there is no suggestion whatsoever the hospital’s communications team were involved in this decision making process. Instead, the phrase was highlighted as a broad management concern.
Unfortunately, these problems are far from restricted to East Kent. Indeed, reputation management could be said to be the default response of any organisation that is challenged publicly. When the end result is that patient safety is being damaged, unrecognised and uncorrected, however, it is especially problematic. At present, the benefits of inappropriate and aggressive reputation management outweigh the meagre risks to an organisation of behaving in this way. This balance must be addressed.
The problems of organisational behaviour that place reputation management above honesty and openness are both pervasive and extremely damaging to public confidence in health services. A legal duty of truthfulness placed on public bodies has been proposed as one of the responses to the Hillsborough disaster. It seems that NHS regulation alone is unable to curtail the denial, deflection and concealment that all too often become subsequently clear, and more stringent measures are overdue.
Dr Bill Kirkup, Reading the signals: Maternity and neonatal services in East Kent – the Report of the Independent Investigation
The block tool until now enabled users to stop abusive users of the platform from targeting them. In the absence of moderation the piece of functionality is nigh-on essential to weed out the worst offenders from abusing the staff who monitor them.
The effect of removing the block function is that whoever wants to stand there abusing staff is free to do so. In other words, if this was a post office staff would effectively have to stand there taking abuse.
If Elon Musk backs down and agrees to keep the block button then public sector people who can still set out a business case for the platform can realistically keep using it. If he doesn’t, any employer insisting that the former blue bird platform is used is asking its staff to break Health and Safety at Work legislation. Breaking this legislation can lead to a £20,000 fine and six months in prison.
This particular piece of Elon Musk posturing has high stakes for those who monitor social media accounts and their employers.
The photo call was once the mainstay of the communications’ repertoire. Arrange a time and a place and tell the local paper’s photographer to come along. Job done. Now, as photographers are far scarcer Alan Woods says this should evolve to a live streaming opportunity. It’s a great ideathat is delivering results.
The ‘photo call’ in its tried and tested format is dead.
But the concept remains relevant, and it is a concept that can be used by any organisation wishing to reach a local digital audience, particularly through social media.
After all, that is the niche that all local media outlets have an army of local or at least locally interested followers on the most popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
This audience is, naturally, of value to any organisation whose target audience is geographical. I cannot emphasise enough how important a solid understanding of your local media title or titles is.
You should read as much of the content they publish as possible, follow their brand accounts on all social media platforms, and watch the videos they post or broadcast. The more you know, the easier you will find it to tailor your content to their style and objectives.
You should endeavour to understand what metrics are driving the newsroom – and why not just ask? Is it page views? Is it social media engagement? Is it newsletter sign ups? Or do they still prioritise print? You should also know how many ‘local’ – on patch – journalists are working for that title. If the answer is zero, you’re in a difficult position. If there’s a handful of reporters working on the ground you’re in with a good shot and need to figure out what is likely to get them out of their offices, bedrooms, kitchens and creating content that will benefit you.
A quick look through the title’s social channels will give you a good steer as to whether the title is digitally driven. Many titles rightly understand that a healthy engagement rate on Facebook will offer their link posts greater prominence in the Facebook algorithm (and subsequently on their followers’ feeds), so social engagement is a key metric in many newsrooms.
So now back to the ‘photo call’ concept – what can you offer journalists who are encouraged to find and generate digital content that drives engagement?
If you have a local title with a Facebook page posting regularly, could you create an opportunity for a journalist to broadcast via Facebook Live? This would secure you direct access to the local audience the brand has established on Facebook, and Facebook naturally prioritises live video on its own platform in its algorithm.
Of course there is risk when broadcasting live video – and please, please encourage the journalist to come along with a proper mic to avoid a lack of sound disaster – but you prepare your speakers for broadcast interviews, so why is this any different?
Good local examples of live streaming
Here are a few examples I have seen of this done well recently:
The Bristol Light Festivalwas broadcast live by Bristol Live for nearly 35 minutes, attracting 108 ‘likes’ and over 40 comments. I’m sure the picture spread of stills looked awesome in print, but it wouldn’t have been delivered the same level of engagement as the Facebook Live online.
An EssexLive journalist joined Essex Police for the latest Passing Out Parade and broadcast this video, which has been watched 4,400 times. What a great way of telling more than 4,000 people that there are more officers on the beat to keep them safe.
Similarly if your local brand tells stories through short-form video on social media such as Facebook Stories or Instagram Reels, how can you match your content to this format?
You can tell from a quick look at a brand’s Facebook page how seriously they take video content in their newsroom.
Merseyside Police nailed this video with the Liverpool Echo, offering up Inspector Katie Wilkinson from the dog unit to launch their ‘Take The Lead’ campaign this summer. It has been watched over 4,000 times.
Check your local landscape
I could go on, as there are hundreds of examples out there across local media titles. Take a look at your local titles and you will see for yourself. Developing a concept that will work for your organisation may take some time, but the impact you can have when you get it right makes it worthwhile.
What’s more, if you ask the journalist how the video performed on their Facebook page, I’m sure they’ll tell you – some stats ideal for your evaluation.
Depleted news teams make it harder than ever for any organisation to encourage a journalist out for a ‘call’ of any type. If you pull it off, make the most of the opportunity. Find out all that you can about the newsroom and what drives it, and make a note so you can feed this into future pitches. And use the opportunity to tell the journalist more about what your organisation is doing and trying to achieve.
You would be silly to not try and land the next pitch whilst you’re with the journalist in person too – it is so much harder for them to say no when you’re face to face.
Alan Woods is the head of media and public affairs at the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
There’s been another splurge of short form video data from the nice people at Ofcom.
Like a brass sextant to a sailor, data helps you set a course across the troubled waters of the media landscape.
So you can never have too much data.
Here’s some cherry pickings from the Ofcom Media Nations 2023 report. I’ve left TV at Netflix viewing off this round-up as being largely irrelevant to public sector comms people.
Useful UK short form video data
Short form video is classed as being less than 10 minutes in length.
People in the UK spend on average 46 minutes a day watching short form video.
Under 34s and teenagers’ short form video use is almost indistinguishable. For seven to 15 year olds this is 76 minutes a day. For 16 to 34 year olds it is 74 minutes a day.
Snapchat and TikTok dominate for 15 to 24s with 52 minutes a day for Snapchat and 58 a day for TikTok.
Instagram video is most popular with 15 to 24s with 25 minutes a day.
Facebook video is watched most watched by 48 per cent of 35 to 44-year-olds.
Snapchat hasn’t cut through to over 24s with less than eight per cent watching video on the platform.
Scotland watches the most video at 4 hours 53 across TV, video on demand, subscription and short form video. That’s 42-minutes more than Northern Ireland, 11 minutes more than the Wales average and 27 minutes more than the UK average.
YouTube remains the biggest short form video channel in the UK watched 79 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds, 63 per cent of 25 to 34 year-olds, 58 per cent of 35 to 44-year-olds, 61 per cent of 45 to 54-year-olds, 50 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds and 49 per cent of over 65s.
Public sector people will find what short-form video content people watch useful.
The how to guide tops the list watched by 64 per cent which narrowly keeps news from the top spot. This no doubt reflects the greater use of short video by news organisations. The BBC, for example, have booming numbers on TikTok.
We are also watching what real people are doing (59 per cent) while 54 percent are watching what friends and family are doing.
Music on 54 per cent is the fifth highest. Going back 10 years this was the single most popular genre showing that what we watch is evolving.
Influencers (48 per cent) and companies we follow (39 per cent) represent proven ways that organisations can reach people. The public sector would do well to look at working with influencers to reach an audience. Big brands do it but they have the cash to grease the wheels. This isn’t something that the cash-strapped public sector does much of.
TikTok users on average watch 28 minutes of films on the channel every day.
TikTok’s overall audience has risen by 45 per cent over the past 12-months. 5.2 million 5 to 24-year-olds watch an hour of TikTok every day.
YouTube Shorts is a secretly successful format. At least a third of all demographics are watching the portrait-shaped 9:16 format which is wrapped in with YouTube itself. This rises to 60 per cent with 13 to 17-year-olds.
The largest demographic watching You Tube short form clips are 18 to 24 with 65 per cent. However, a majority of 25 to 54 year olds are also watching on the platform.
All this points tio YouTube being a remarkably resilient platform and the emerging YouTube Shorts being a place to post 9:16 video. One quick health warning. Don’t finish off an edit with TikTok music and think you can download it and cross post it to Reels and YouTube Shorts, too. You have a licence to use the clip in TikTok and that’s it. You risk being persued by rights holders who are very good at doing this.
Lucy Salvage spent more than a decade in local government and after navigating COVID in comms she realised the love she had for her job had been replaced with something else. She has now left the public sector. Her post will definitely chime with many people.
After a digital clear out of files on my tablet, I came across this piece I started writing in May 2021. Very unlike me it looks like I didn’t finish it.
Anyway, reading it back I thought it was rather good and I’m sure it will still resonate with some of you today.
At the time I was still working as media and communications officer for my district council…
**Why I may have fallen out of love with the public sector** (May 2021)
When Dan posted “Working in the public sector despite everything is worth it because…” it was like he had looked into my soul and asked the very same question I’ve been asking myself these last few days.
Fourteen months ago, answering this would have been easy:-
– “I feel like I make a difference in my local community.”
– “The work I do might impact someone’s life for the better.”
– “I’m in a position to lead discussions, shift behaviours and have a positive influence.”
– “I am proud to work in Local Government.”
– “I am valued.”
One global pandemic, three close bereavements, and a semi-nervous breakdown later, and I’m struggling to answer Dan’s question. I don’t know if it is worth it anymore. In trying to unpack why, I’ve discovered that there are two main elements to my shift in thought over this time period.
1. The public and their attitude toward the public sector
2. The value given by others to my profession
Local Government has never been easy, and in the 11 years (nine consecutively) that I’ve been a Local Government Officer, I’ve come to accept that the public don’t really like us much and that’s been fine.
I’ve shrugged it off and still wanted to help people anyway. I’ve always worked to prove them wrong and win them round. We are good people doing good things whether they choose to believe it or not.
In my PA days, my greatest kicks came when riled up members of the public called to complain to the Chief Executive, and instead they got me.
They would spit words of fire down the phone because their bin collection had been missed, or their housing application turned down. By the end of the call I would have them in the palm of my hand, full of gratitude.
Although I dreaded those phone calls as much as I relished their usual outcome, that kind of interaction with the public made me feel valued. There was an equal balance of sh*t and shine. They gave me sh*t, and I shined. Now it just feels sh*t.
We’ve remarked on it a number of times in this group, particularly over the last six months; about how toxic people have become, especially towards those working in the public sector. Gone is the community ‘war-time’ spirit so is the ‘be kind’ mantra which lasted all of a number of weeks.
The online community, once a space that you came to expect and concede a certain amount of negativity from a minority, now feels overtaken by a gargantuan black cloud of hate and bitterness. One that casts an unwelcome shadow on pretty much everything we try and do for the betterment of others.
In a sector which once brought me genuine pride and fulfilment, now just consumes me with anger, frustration and despair on a daily basis and that’s just from having to suffer the members of the ungrateful British public.
That alone I may just be able to grin and bear long enough for the tide to again turn. But coupled together with a growing lack of understanding and appreciation for my profession is gnawing away at me deeper than any troll on Twitter.
I’ve always been very well supported at work, personally and professionally. I’ve been given opportunities in the public sector I wouldn’t have had anywhere else.
I’ll forever be grateful for that, and it’s very much the reason I’ve ended up in the profession I’ve always been passionate about.
However, I’ve always felt that my role as a public relations and communications professional has never been taken very seriously or valued as it should because anyone can do comms right?
In 2020 we were finally able to prove to others what we long knew. Our profession was and continues to be vital to the wellbeing and safety of others. It can be strategic and carefully planned, but also reactive, often in extremely pressurised circumstances.
It makes a real difference when executed by a trained and skilled comms professional. What it is not? An afterthought. I had hoped that the pandemic would shine a bright light on our skill and expertise. That finally, FINALLY, our profession would be given the respect it deserves. That we, as kickass communicators, deserve. Instead, the need to save money following the pandemic inevitably led to more cuts, and the opportunities for career progression that burned bright pre-covid were unceremoniously snuffed out.
Seven months after penning this I did leave Local Government in December 2021. Whilst I miss it fondly at times, I don’t regret my decision at all. It took far more from me that I was able to continue giving it. But it’s still by far the best job I’ve ever had. Keep on keeping on.
Each review is different because each organisation is different with different resources and audiences.
First up is working out who your partners are, your traditional media, the business audience you may have, your minorities. This is the basics around who you’d like to talk to.
Your demographic audiences
Second is looking at your audiences. The age of your audience will dictate what channels they are likely to be using.
If you’re in the UK, you need to look at UK data rather than homogenised global data which is often available. Ofcom is your friend for this and sits on a pile of useful insight you need to dig out.
Your audience is going to be pretty unique to you. If you take one thing from the Ofcom data is that the landscape is very fractured. This part may give you the data to highlight channels you are not using but need to. Equally, there may be channels to dial back from.
A review of your Facebook groups is useful at this point. The data I’ve collected would show that there are between six and 12 Facebook community group memberships per head of population. Facebook groups can be community noticeboards that serve a town, village, housing estate or postcode can often be a vital way to reach people in that community.
Your channel performance
How your existing channels are performing is also useful. There may be things you are doing well and things you are doing badly. Engagement rates using the Adobe metrics is a good way to see how effective your content is performing.
This pulls it all together with a series of recommendations around the channels you are using, the channels you may need to use, the channels you need to step back from and advice on how to use the channels.
It’s all based on data rather than powered by fear and what someone has read that morning. It puts you back in charge again, basically. So you can look good in front of your boss and their boss.
Drop me a line if you’d like to chat – I’m firstname.lastname@example.org – and I’ll see you at the session.
My younger teenage years were a love letter to the band. I sat in my room Marr’s melodies and Morrissey’s words going round my head. Without them, I wasn’t alone.
I wrote to Morrissey once and he wrote back. A lottery win would only come near the elation I felt when I opened the letter to find a postcard.
“Dan, the photo was taken in Paris,” a postcard to me read. “The photo was taken in Paris and Mr Peel is the Holiest Saint who ever walked this earth.”
I’d not a clue what he was talking about was but it felt like a communication from a Higher Being.
They split, of course. While my adoration faded and other music came along I never disowned them. But then Morrissey started to go weird. Then the realisation that the love affair was over. Morrissey wasn’t a Higher Being,after all. He was a once-cool uncle who had developed unpleasant opinions. For a while, when Morrissey was trending I’d click to see what he’d said and I’d fall a bit more out of love.
Then there finally came a moment Morrissey was saying something and I just didn’t care anymore.
I think Twitter – or is it now X – has reached that Morrissey moment.
It wasn’t the spiralling hate, or turning a blind eye to extremists, or the suppressing criticism of the Turkish government, or the charging £8 a month to reach people or the limit on the number of tweets that truly did it.
It was when I heard that Elon Musk is now calling the place ‘X’ I realised I’d reached that Morrissey moment with Twitter.
There’s no doubt that AI will have a big role to play with video production but the quality of tool varies.
I’m a big fan of the CapCut editing app and news of a ChatGPT plug-in got me excited.
Here’s what I did with using the tool.
I’m from Staffordshire. So, I decided to make a video for Staffordshire Day which actually happened a couple of weeks back.
The prompt I gave it was to include the landmark of Stafford Castle as well as the greatest British footballer of all time Sir Stanlety Matthews. I wanted a Stoke City reference and the Staffordshire knot. Drive into the county and you’ll see the roadsign welcoming you to Staffordshire the Creative County so I wanted a reference to that.
It produced a ascript for the film.
It also asked me what aspect ratio I’d like the film to be. 16:9 is landscape and 9:16 is portrait. I wanted portrait. I also decided to keep the script as it was.
What the video looked like
It makes sense for ChatGPT to synch with a video creation tool like CapCut. It means that you are able to use the tool to edit and replace elements you are not happy with. However, CapCut does need a minimal level of professional expertise. You can change the images that has been created. You can also do this editing on a laptop or PC.
How good was AI shot selection? Ropey, frankly
Okay, now to the business end. I have to tell you that the choice of images was not great. AI chose around the images I asked for. If you squint you’ll say the images corresponded with what it was asked for by and large. However, knowing Stafford only two of the images were accurate and just one – the shot of Stafford Castle – would pass muster.
The first shot was a shot of a Herefordshire sign (wrong), an image of a horse statue (wrong) a statue that isn’t Stanley Matthews and one that is. Two Stoke fans looking dejected (hmmm) and two landmarks (wrong). The last shot was a red and while image with the word osteoperosis (spectacularly wrong).
Here’s the video
Despite being told the video was 9:16 the images were more landscape 16:9…
As you’ll see if you played the video, the voiceover was in a pretty horrible American accent and the music selection feels pretty lift music.
What worked and what didn’t?
What did work was the process. I asked ChatGPT to produce something and it did.
But the images chosen were poor.
What’s worrying is that the images were copyrighted.
Using tineye I could see the Stafford Castle image was listed on Shutterstock, Alamy and Adobe.
The Stoke City clown was also a Shutterstock stock image.
The statue wasn’t Sir Stan at all but is from Amsterdam.
You can export the video and you have some control over the frame rate it can export at. That’s a plus.
What did potentially work for the process is the script. It did produce a workable script after a prompt listing the features. I wouldn’t be using the provided audio commentary. I’d be using someone with a Staffordshire accent if I was making this in earnest.
I’m sure that the results will improve as time ticks on but the ChatGPT CapCut extension isn’t worth using just yet.
A wise man once said that information is the oil of the 21st century and analytics the combustion engine. Here is some information to analyse.
Almost a decade ago when I first started to offer workshops to teach communications people how to plan, shoot, edit and post effective video there were strong signs that this trend was happening.
In 2023, to say that people watch a lot of video is as bold as saying it rains a lot in Manchester. It’s describing the world as it is.
What, however, is still useful is data and insight that paints this picture. This is where Ofcom come in. Buried in the 2023 Communications Market Report is data on video consumption. This is important stuff. It shows what demographics are watching what.
Frustratingly, LinkedIn is missing which now has video as an important strand. So is WhatsApp which has become a video sharing network by default. But there is enough here to
Video consumption in the UK by channel and demographic
YouTube is consumed across the board by all demographics with even the majority of over 60s watching this channel.
Instagram is strong amongst under 34s with around three quarters watching video here.
TikTok is strongest amongst Gen Z.
Snapchat remains the forgotten channel for older communicators who don’t tend to use the teenage-friendly platform themselves.
Facebook is consistently strong across all demographics but especially older age groups.
Twitter is most used for video by 18 to 24-year-olds.
This data is a starting point for you to understand how best to use video. The fact that your audience is on the channel doesn’t translate to they will automatically be watching your content. You have to earn the right and part of that is to creater content that will work for each individual channel.
There have been 3,876 daily tweets mentioning the racist n-word on Twitter, up 202% on the average daily rate in 2022 before his takeover of 1,282
There have been 3,964 daily tweets mentioning the homophobic term f****t on Twitter, up 58% on the average daily rate in 2022 before his takeover of 2,506
There have been 17,937 daily tweets mentioning the misogynist term c**t on Twitter, up 33% on the average daily rate in 2022 before his takeover of 13,514
There have been 5,117 daily tweets mentioning the transphobic term t****y on Twitter, up 62% on the average daily rate in 2022 before his takeover of 3,159
There are many people who use Twitter and are upstanding members of the community. No question.
But the Health and Safety Executive in the UK are clear that online abuse aimed at staff is classified as violence in the workplace. This can be named individuals or the individual who looks after the corporate account.
It’s unlikely that Twitter will physically fall over. MySpace didn’t and neither did FriendsReunited. But in my social media reviews for six months I’ve been advising public sector people to dial back on the channel.