3 Reasons Channel Shifting Can Improve Reputation Management of Governmental Organisations

stickshift

There is one thing that politicians and governmental organisations can agree on: the difficulty to develop and/or preserve a positive image. Hard won good reputations can easily be damaged due to generally vulnerable images and unstable levels of trust.

Most of the debates in PR circles are legitimately focused on managing public images by creating value through content marketing. Yet I find the conversations do not tap enough into the choice of communication channels that would carry the content – especially with the surge of digital tools.

Governments have been always risk averse and as a result became slow adopters of digital tools compared to private sector organisations and that’s what makes the choice of communication channels a conversation worth having.

There are several good examples of governmental organisations that are embracing digital successfully such as the British Tourist Authority and the London Borough of Newham to mention a few but shifting to digital channels is still a complex foreign territory to the majority of public sector organisations in the UK and abroad.

So how can shifting to digital help governmental organisations manage their reputations.

 

Digital can reinforce brand messaging and standardise service delivery:

Whether its tax returns, driving licences, planning permissions or travelling visas – online platforms can improve the provision of governmental services and standardise their delivery across the board. They can also increase their level of accessibility from anywhere, at any time and even facilitate access to people with special needs in a way that face to face or telephone interactions are less able to do.

Digital platforms such as websites, emails and social media can also enable governments to effectively convey and preserve a certain brand image and help deliver constant messaging.

 

Digital offers deeper audience insight:

Whilst tried and traditional research methodologies are a great resource to help drive audiences’ attitudes and behaviours; they can take too long, cost more and potentially present flawed conclusions because they rely on recording memories, which decay rapidly.

Digital on the other hand is changing the way we gather, analyse and deduce patterns in real time and at a fraction of the cost.

Digital channels enable us to better understand our audiences and act on gathered insights in real time. The available tools give us the ability to quickly and easily process big data to deliver highly targeted content – both ads and editorial – to users whether they are on a computer, tablet or mobile and at a time when they are listening which improve the user-experience.

 

Digital can save money: 

Channel shifting can deliver savings and audience engagement. According to Goss Interactive the funding of local government, central government, NHS, housing associations and the police have been reduced by 27% in 2012-2014 and a further 10% is tabled for 2015-2016.

Although, this can make a shift towards digital channels seem more like a fait accompli – yet governmental organisations can use this as an opportunity to reinforce a brand message of excellence and efficiency in using the tax payer’s money through the provision of re-engineered services in a quicker and cheaper way.

 

Managing reputations for governmental organisations relies on channel choice as much as it does on messaging; especially with the increasing variety of how we consume media such as through on-demand TV and radio and digital tools etc. Governmental organisations have a great opportunity to benefit from digitalising their services and communications to convey the brand image they wish to deliver.

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12 things I learnt from comms2point0’s Essential Video Skills Workshop

Video and Mobile Communication

You’ll probably have heard by now that video is the next big thing on the internet but not sure what to do about it and how to start incorporating it in your communication plans effectively without going bankrupt.

I was there until I luckily got myself a seat on one of the Essential Video Skills Workshops run by comms2point0 and Film Café.

By the way, I whole heartedly recommend that you attend one of these workshops if you want to keep up with the game.

The seats get sold out pretty quickly but two more workshops have just been made available in September and will take place in Birmingham and London. Book from here.

So, to cut into the chase, here are 12 lessons I learnt from the day:

  1. Shockingly, we spend more time consuming media than sleeping. According to an Ofcom study, we spend on average 8hrs 41mins texting, typing, listening or watching compared to 8hrs 21min sleeping. Out of those 8hrs 41mins of media consumptions, almost 6 hours are spent on TV (live and recorded), social media, email, online news, web and mobile apps. Read more.
  1. Facebook surpassed YouTube in number of video views on desktop since they introduced the auto-play feature. The number of views per month on desktop increased from 4 billion to 12 billion.
  1. Forget about Bambuser . Persicope is the new social broadcasting tool.
  1. There is something called Vertical Video Syndrome and it’s an epidemic. You have to watch this video.
  1. Nearly three-fourths of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2019. If you don’t want to be left out – sign up to one of these workshops: Birmingham on 7 September and London on 8 September.
  1. That scary moment when you realise how old fashioned you must be because the majority of people choose to watch moving flashing pixels (aka video) about something rather than read about it.
  1. If you’re making a video for everyone, then you’re making a video for no one. In the audio-visual industry, there are at least 4 categories of men, 5 categories of women and 2 categories of children. Think who you want to reach. The general public means nothing.
  1. The Gangnam Style video by Psy literally broke YouTube’s views counter. Some tweaks needed to be made to allow YouTube to count higher than 2,147,483,647. In fact the number of views is spilling over nine quintillion views 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. I never heard of a quintillion before.
  1. Discovered the AE/AF lock on mobile devices (AE: Auto Exposure/AF: Auto Focus). This is a great feature that prevents your videos from going blurry or out of focus as a result of your subject’s movements when being filmed. This is how to do it on iOS devices.  For Android, I’m afraid you’ll need to look it up as different models have different settings.
  1. We had a fierce debate on which platform to choose to upload videos: Facebook or YouTube. Like with most arguments in life, we had a group who thinks uploading videos to Facebook directly can increase its chances to be viewed thanks to the auto-play feature. The other group thinks that uploading a video to YouTube makes it more discoverable and easier to share on other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

I personally choose something in the middle to make the most of both platforms. Upload the video to YouTube and Facebook. Let me know what you think.

  1. Follower Wonk: this is a great twitter analytics tool that I think you should start using if you’re not already. It offers so much insight on several metrics – more than I’m able to describe in these bullet points. For example, it’s telling me that the best time to reach my twitter followers is between 3pm to 4pm which is when I tweeted this article. Check it out: https://followerwonk.com/
  1. Cake is the new cat for digital communicators. Watch out kittens, here is a picture of my cupcake:

cupcake digital communicators

That’s it but obviously, different people will pick up and learn different things. This list is in no way a summary of what’s been covered during the day’s workshop and if anything, I hope it encourages you to enrol. There were loads covered on landscaping videos, pitching video ideas, integration with communication plans, distribution and actually shooting and editing videos on the spot.

My renewed thanks to Dan Slee from comms2point0 and Steven Davies from Film Cafe for a great learning day.

What using Soft Power in International Relations taught me about campaigning?

attraction

Picture this: a 16 year old boy from Morocco going to the hairdresser to get a “David Beckham” haircut or doodling all sorts of tattoo shapes on his textbook while in class.

Imagine this South African 48 year old lady spending her evenings binge-watching Bollywood movies and gasping at the sight of her favourite Indian actor’s dancing.     

Wouldn’t you agree that those are basic examples of successful brand engagement – ones that went beyond geographical limits?

Indian Dance GIFWatch the full dance GIF from 3:53

Now, thinking about those two people, wouldn’t you also agree that they are favourably disposed to Britain and India respectively and they are likely to choose to consume news, services and products from those countries rather than “rival” ones? Sure they would.     

How did that happen?

They call it ‘Soft Power’. A term I accidently came across that influenced my understanding of effective branding and campaigning.

In case you haven’t heard of the term before now, Soft Power is the use of positive attraction and persuasion to achieve global influence. The term is mainly used in international relations and was first coined in 1990 by Professor Joseph Nye, former Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Clever man.

Simply put, Soft Power is a country’s ability to alter the behaviour of others to get what it wants using attraction and persuasion techniques.

According to Mr. Nye, there are basically three ways for a country to get what it wants: coercion (sticks), payments (carrots), and attraction (soft power). Side note: sticks and carrots are considered a hard power such as the military, economic sanctions etc.

What I learnt was that force could get people to do what you want them to do, but it will never be out of conviction or admiration. Think of Greece, Iran and Russia.

History demonstrated that the use of Hard Power could bring results but only temporarily. Eventually, uprisings and revolutions will happen because people don’t like to be oppressed. MarketingJust don’t hard power people

Soft Power on the other hand is very closely linked to branding and it’s about attracting, persuading and influencing people to achieve what you want them to do by appealing to their minds and hearts.

There are 3 main pillars that determine a country’s Soft Power:

  • Its culture (when it can be made attractive to others – think Hollywood projecting American culture)
  • Its political values (when seen to be applied locally and overseas. China, for instance, is not doing so well on this one for its record of human rights abuses)
  • Its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate. America’s focus on the use of hard power and involvement with several wars isn’t getting credit points on this one)

So what does all this have to do with campaigning and comms work?

We can use the concept of Soft Power on organisational level to attract and engage audiences. My reflections led to me to conclude this:

  • Maximise the value of your assets such as social influencers. They will promote your messages and increase your brand awareness. For example: I tried to reach out to well-known local bloggers that often write about politics and public affairs to help us promote my employer’s projects on freedom of expression.

Working with influencers can be very beneficial since they already have an immense reach. It’s a win-win situation because your campaign can position them in good light and for that reason they will be happy and have fun creating engaging posts with their own style. Often they will help for free and their followers are just waiting to respond to that call to action.

  • Adopt a human style with a “real life” lingo. This will appeal to the hidden personal traits of your audience. Also do post occasional off-target messages. They will make you seem more human and relatable.

 Just don’t use this: “We are strategising our forward facing service protocols to maximise our human infrastructure’s core efficiencies.” 

Make a Vine insteadInstead of a superboal spot, we do a vine video

  • A longer term strategy that focuses on attraction will reap higher rewards over time. Soft Power campaigns are healthier, more sustainable and will deliver higher brand engagement than any short term coercive campaign.

A slightly off-target thing:

Did you know that Britain is the most powerful country in the world? This is based on a study done by ‘Soft Power 30’ released last week that examined soft power assets at the disposal of countries. Check it out for more details.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts in the comment section. Would be good to challenge perceptions and discuss ideas.

>Photo Credit: César Viteri Ramirez via Flickr.