Over the past couple of years I’ve been working with the various teams in our office to let people know the sort of work our teams do every day. Its been a hard slog. Not because they don’t have anything interesting to tell people, they just don’t see what they do as interesting. This has been the main battle from day one, getting our teams to realise that people want to know what they’re up to an actually might quite appreciate it. However, now we are at the stage when rather than me chasing the teams for their content I’ve started working with each of the teams to identify a “Communications ambassador” who will liaise with the other members of their teams, find out whats going on and then either publish it themselves on the web or contact me to discuss the promotion of it. I’ve already blogged about one of these new ambassadors, David, in an earlier post but I wanted to do a quick post about another person who has come to be very important in providing us with some great content.
Parks was probably the trickiest team for me to get content from. They can be out in one of any 60-odd parks or greenspaces we have in our area at anytime. The do a huge amount of work which is greatly appreciated by our residents but trying to find out about it was a nightmare for me. It took a while but I was able to set-up a meeting with our Parks Officer who arranged for our two Parks Rangers, Scott and Matt, to come into the office especially to meet me. We had a chat about what sort of information I was after and I mentioned that we had just set up a Facebook page which we would also be looking for photos. The pair seemed quite interested in the whole comms thing and Scott in particular was very interested in the Facebook page. He asked for its address and how to find it. I gave him the details. The meeting finished and Scott and Matt headed out to do parks things, you’ll see I’ve got all the technical terms down.
About a day later we got a new “liker” on the SW Facebook page. It was Scott. At first I didn’t get much from the Rangers. The occasional phone call to say that they had an event coming up or had just finished doing some planting in an area. I’ll be honest it wasn’t anything that would “set the heather on fire” but it was still information which I wasn’t getting before. I was quite pleased. This was an improvement and as I didn’t really have high expectations this pretty much did the job. I was now getting information from our Parks Team which I could promote, happy days.
As fate would have it they way in which our Rangers work was changing just shortly after I’d had that meeting with them. They were about to get a PC which they could share in the office so they could have access to email and the other facilities which our office staff enjoy. They would still spent the vast majority of their time out and about but they would also drop-in to the office to check emails on their way past. This also meant it would be a lot easier for them to send me photos.
The first photos I was sent was about a path in one of our parks being redone. They weren’t the most exciting photos you’ve ever seen but I thought the people in that area might be interested so I posted them as an album on our Facebook page. They got a couple of likes. I told the Parks Officer and asked him to say “thanks” to Matt and Scott. A bit of positive re-enforcement.
But Scott already knew. He was already following our page. This appreciation really struck a chord with him. Very soon I was getting photos from him a couple of times a week. More likes on these albums led to more photos from Matt and Scott. Now I think Scott sends me photos once a day, sometimes more. A lot of them are really interesting for example the other week he sent me photos of a project to put up bee hives in some or our parks. This had even involved taking a delivery of live bees and he had the photos to prove it. However, some days the photos aren’t quite as exciting.
I’m also trying not to post up all the photos because I’m wary that our page becomes purely a parks page. Theres also the general rule for business or organisation Facebook pages that you don’t post on them too often or people will unfollow them as they get in the way of the real reason you use the medium, to keep up with your friends and family’s comings and goings. I have become a victim of my own success. I’m now getting too much content from our parks team. It’s a good problem to have though.
However, whenever I don’t post photos that Scott sends me the next day he will come and find me. He’ll start a conversation about what photos he’s going to send me later on in the week but then he’ll become a little quite and say “I notice you didn’t put up the photos I sent you yesterday”. This always feels a little awkward.
So I’ve come up with a plan. Scott and Matt are going to graduate to being bloggers. I’m going to get them to start a weekly blog post, including photos, on the SW blog where Ann has been posting updates. That way we can get all their content, all be it a more summary version, out into the public sphere. This will not only allow them to post the photos of what they’ve been up to but also tell some of the great stories being what they are doing and why. There have been a number of times when they’ve given me photos of work they’ve been doing which has looked rather dull but when you hear the story from Matt or Scott which the photos actually tell you realise that in fact if you lived in the area you’d love to know this was happening. On these occasions I would include some of the info in the albums as a quote from Scott such as their project to turn a tree into a bush.
Its early days yet. I’ve still to sit down with Matt and Scott to go over the practicalities of how we’ll do this. We did have a meeting set up this week but I had to reschedule it. Another really positive sign was that when I did cancel it Scott got in contact to let me know he wanted to get this set-up sooner rather than later. So, now instead of me chasing the team for content, the team are now chasing me with their content.