Social Media

Turn the Page?

Another month so there must be another change to Facebook – and this one is more than simply moving the search bar from the right to the left of the screen.

Facebook announced that its Pages are getting a new, more streamlined look but if you manage pages for your organisation or clients, you need to be across what is going to happen.

The biggest change is that the timeline is going down from two columns to one, which means it’s goodbye to highlighted images and videos. Yes, they are making images slightly larger and introducing new fonts and icons,  but it’s not going to have the same visual impact that a highlighted piece of content will.   The timeline is also switching position so it is now on the right with follower information and company information in the left column.

Apps are now hidden away under a tab called ‘More’ – as are personal profiles and other details. They will be accessible but how many fans will take the time to click through and explore without at least a visual reminder?

For page admins, a weekly metrics section has moved to the top right and includes ad data, likes and post reach along with the historic timeline underneath it, Total page likes has moved left under the profile picture but critically the talking about this number has disappeared – raising the importance of page followers and the possibility of another recruiting followers arms race.

Cover images may also need to be adjusted as the page name and category now appear in white text at the bottom of the image and the profile picture itself has moved a little bit higher than before.

It looks like Facebook are attempting to bring their mobile and desktop viewing experiences into closer harmony which is all well and good but does this mean they are prepared to sacrifice fangates and other useful apps to make it happen?

We’ll see.


Three communications and engagement rules for CCGs

It’s new year and time for another brave new world for the NHS.

Never mind patients waking up with a hangover, Government reforms will make 2014 a challenging year for GPs and others running the new-look NHS as CCGs, CSUs, NHS 111 and all sorts of other acronyms get to grips with their new roles at the heart of what is still the world’s best healthcare system*.

With patient engagement and the input of friends and family increasingly important in helping shape the delivery of services around the country one of the biggest challenges for those in charge of the new system is listening to and communicating with their customers (aka patients).

Throw in the amount of NHS-related noise you get through social media and the challenges are significant.

For me, CCGs have to follow three clear and simple rules to keep their communications and engagement activities on track.

1)   Listening is as important as talking – communication is not a one-way thing – listening to and acting on patient feedback is essential

2)   Keep it simple stupid – don’t lapse in to dear old Donald Rumsfeld territory – no jargon please when talking with patients and the public

3)   Put customer service at the heart of what you do – as consumers we now expect the best ethical standards of the public sector combined with the best customer service standards of the private sector. Some parts of the UK public sector get that. Other’s don’t and it shows. Make sure you are on the right side of the fence.

*I’m no medic but name me another system you’d like to swap the NHS for that will improve healthcare outcomes and that the UK plc can afford. Answers on a postcard please to @dtwchris.

PS – 10 points if you can spot the key role that Commissioning Support Units play in the new look NHS on the Department of Health’s overview of the new-look system.

Struggling? I don’t blame you – they don’t even get a mention despite being key players in providing


Why comms, comms, comms should be the energy companies’ new year resolution

Being based up here in the sunny north east we have thankfully missed the worst of the flooding and power failures this festive season, but friends and colleagues round the country have suffered – our sympathies are with them in cleaning up what must be a horrendous mess.

Picking up on the public and social media comment the most common complaint (as ever it seems) is all about the failure of companies to communicate with customers about what is happening and when it will be fixed.

Why is this always the case, and do the alleged poor standards of customer service really reflect the reality?

Christmas really presented the perfect storm (sorry). Staffing and other resources were depleted over the break, and the number, frequency and intensity of the storms was almost unprecedented, so I have great sympathy with the communications and customer service teams trying to piece things together with scant information and unhappy customers.

Getting the communications right on these occasions can really reap rewards, and technology has to be at the heart of the solution. Earlier in the year we lost water at home and our provider, Northumbrian Water, was outstanding in the way they communicated with customers on a Saturday morning about the issue for what was a fairly localised problem.

An alert on the front page of the website might be expected (but still pretty good for 8.45am on a Saturday) but to get two texts that morning telling me about the problem, when it would be fixed and how to find out more was a great example of pro-active customer service.

UK Power Networks decision to increase payouts for those affected over Christmas was similarly effective, but on a much bigger scale. Customers no doubt welcomed the extra cash, but what this announcement also did was put the company on the front foot with the national media and gave them an opportunity to hit the airwaves for a 24-hour period and talk about what they were doing to fix the problem, which they did well.

Weather happens and it’s getting worse, most of us get that and will accept it has impacts, but what we won’t accept in 2014 is a failure to communicate. The energy companies (and others) have much to think about moving forward.


Closure of Liverpool Post a warning shot for local newspapers

Trinity Mirror’s decision to completely close the 150+ year old Liverpool Post was a shock in December, but is surely a sign of further consolidation in the local newspaper sector in 2014.

Not good news for journalists, newspaper readers or local democracy. All those local councilors who regularly blast their local media for “getting everything wrong” and misrepresenting them might start having different concerns if their local paper suddenly disappears.

The challenge then for local authorities, as for companies, is to build their own networks online and communicate directly with residents and businesses. Many are ahead of the game – look at the social media presence of the likes of Monmouthshire or Northumberland or the excellent case studies showcased in the Comms2point0 blog – and you can see the great work already happening.

For those behind the curve the culture change and resources required to deliver social media services effectively can prove a shock, but with local media ever further stretched it is local authorities’ online networks that will become the key communications platforms as we move throughout 2014.

#teamDTW Video

It was the night before Christmas…

They say never work with children and animals, but we at DTW recently broke both of those rules when we decided this year to produce a Christmas video instead of a greetings card.

But could we really pull it off in such a short space of time? Despite many a dubious glance, and at least one “I’ll eat an elf’s hat if you pull this off!” we got everyone together for…an interesting couple of hours.

Trying to direct a one-year old to “Crawl like this”, and explaining to at least three separate six year olds what their motivation for the scene was, you might have been mistaken for thinking you had walked onto the set of a Hollywood blockbuster film.

But, you wouldn’t have been mistaken for too long, with mince-pie encrusted carpet stains and tinsel coming out of our ears… literally, I thought, maybe, this time we had gone too far, reflecting back to the night the idea was born, I asked myself ‘Had someone had too many wines on a school night?’

However, despite the crying noises of several tired and frustrated babies, chocolate handprints all over the photocopier, dog hairs on the Christmas Tree, and the curious case of the missing chocolate coins that never made it to the bright lights of the tree branches, (a mystery still to this day) we somehow managed to get all the footage we needed.

But, chaos and stress aside it was a lovely afternoon… Hopefully not to be repeated too soon, and the lesson we all learnt was when you prove people wrong…make them eat their elf hat!

Latest News

DTW shortlisted for six PR awards

DTW has been shortlisted for six CIPR North East Pride awards.

Four of the awards relate to our PR and marketing work for Further Education colleges in the region. Projects that DTW has delivered on behalf of Newcastle Sixth Form College, Redcar & Cleveland College and Prior Pursglove College have all been shortlisted.

The company has also been shortlisted in the Community Relations and Healthcare categories for the Listening to Cumbria campaign it created and delivered with NHS Cumbria’s communications team.

The Listening to Cumbria campaign was critical to help local communities contribute to and develop an understanding of major changes to the way healthcare services are delivered in the county.

DTW Director Hayley Stewart said: “We’re very pleased with this recognition for our work. We’re working with more and more FE colleges and education academies right across the country and we know that the work we are delivering is having real results on the ground.”

The winners will be announced at the CIPR North East Pride awards dinner, which is being held at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead on 4 October.


Talking to government? Think policy hub, not department

The new Government Communications Plan might have a foreword from Francis Maude but the hand of Alex Aiken, the new Executive Director of Government Communications, is all over it.

Having heard Alex present on the future of government comms at the recent CIPR Northern Conference, it is no surprise to see his favourite word of the moment – ‘exceptional’ – prominent here.

What this document does reflect is both the repositioning of comms and PR at the heart of the government information machine and the creation of the new communications hubs.

The one side of A4 communication plans summaries for each department (I bet the editing was fun) are also a welcome introduction and a good starting point for anyone looking to engage with a particular department on a comms issue.

More important though as a signpost for the future are the seven communication hubs – Health and Care; Tax and Benefits; Infrastructure, Communities, Environment and Personal Safety; Crime and Justice; Growth and Economy; Public Services and UK Interests Abroad.

Joined-up-thinking is one of those great over-used phrases which often doesn’t mean a lot, but this is a clear recognition from Government that real people think about issues, not departmental lines of responsibility, and is good to see.

For anyone looking to work with Government and add value to their own comms work, it is also an invaluable guide to the key agenda issues as we move forward.

PR Social Media

CIPR guide to social media monitoring

I’ve spent a bit of time over the last week scanning through the CIPR’s new guide to social media monitoring.

The new guide, which reflect the best practice outlined in the Share This and Share This Too books (a great starting point for social media stuff for the uninitiated) is a really good attempt at ending the confusion about the plethora of monitoring tools and approaches and aligning this activity to real business objectives.

I don’t claim to be a social media guru (and don’t trust many who do) but anyone working in PR and comms who is still in denial about the power and influence needs to wake up and smell the coffee.  More often than not, the problem comes with senior management who are reluctant to harness the power of social media because they are terrified of losing control.

To me they are missing the point – social media gives you the opportunity to listen to and learn from the conversations about your brand or organisation that in the past you just didn’t know about – any hotel that doesn’t monitor and respond to reviews (good and bad) on Trip Advisor or council that ignores feedback on twitter is just sticking its head in the sand and will suffer as a result.

What business doesn’t want honest feedback from its customers? The core three-step approach of listen, engage and influence highlighted in the guide is a good starting point to anyone still unsure how to begin engaging.