Last week Denise Shaw, Communications Manager for the Growth Vouchers programme, spent some time with the digital team to develop her skills.
Here's what she found out:
I’ve been using digital channels for Growth Vouchers but felt that taking time out away from my desk and doing a deep digital dive on the 7th floor could show me some new tricks.
The Growth Vouchers programme is a pioneering research programme that is trying to find out what impact strategic advice has on the growth of small businesses. So, how could I use digital to ensure that the right small businesses were aware of the programme and use digital to reach them? And how could I feed back to my policy colleagues what the 'noise' was about the programme? We were already using the usual suspects like Twitter and LinkedIn, but I knew there was more we could do.
What I learnt:
Be brave. Twitter, Facebook and Linked In are great channels for starting conversations and asking questions about policy - not just to put up the odd message. But this does need monitoring. Tweets have an average shelf life of 2 and half hours so you need to get back to people quickly. If you don’t there could be a storm building up before you know where you are.
Think creatively. Is there a way to use podcasts? Guest blog on non-government sites? Ask stakeholders to work with you to create material like case studies that give a real human face to the difference that government policy is making to people’s lives?
Use digital to listen. I did research on the digital reach of organisations likely to have contacts with businesses that would benefit from Growth Vouchers. I was able to google rank them to see how many followers they had and who they were, check out if they had guest blog sites we could use, look at their videos and podcasts. In short, to see who were the best organisations to help get out messages out. Messages don’t always have to come from government. In fact, it’s sometimes better they don’t.
Storify is a great tool to showcase what’s happening in your area and share with colleagues. Great for a 'live-time' view of everything that’s happening for that all important programme board.
But what I leant most was that this does take a bit of time – but time well spent. It can be done at your desk, but a few days with the digital team can – I hope – work wonders.
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