The latest from NHS #CommsLeads

extAs a lifelong Newcastle Utd fan and regular tweeter you’d be right to imagine that I’m well used to disappointment and defeat, so it’s nice to start the latest blog with some good news for the North East – I’ve been elected as the new chair of the NHS Providers #CommsLeads Network.

I’m a very regular attender of these meetings and often blog afterwards so I was genuinely pleased (and surprised) to take up the role and follow the excellent Carrie-Anne Wade who has built such a useful national network.

While I’ve only been in NHS comms for a relatively short time, I’m passionate about public sector communications and think that we can play a vital role in delivering services at a time when healthcare is facing some real challenges.

I want to really showcase all the good work you do right across the country, while helping find the best ways for us to all develop and grow collectively.

Before jumping into the usual round-up of the event I’d like to say a few quick thankyous:

  • To Carrie-Anne for running such a good group and also for her kind and generous welcome.
  • To Adam, Lisa and Asha at the NHS Providers team for their tireless work
  • To Sam at NEAS who nominated me.
  • To my fellow candidates for such a keenly contested election: Michael Carden, Tiffany Jones, Hazel Melnick and Phil Woodford.

I really hope I can continue to help the network grow and thrive so please do get in touch with me if you have any ideas for future themes or just want to make some suggestions.

Before you do that, here are some of my key takes from the day.

Social media with a heart
Simple, sharable, relevant content is the most successful with the public and the British Heart Foundation had some really strong examples of where this human touch has worked so well. Some simple advice about heart attacks delivered on social by some graphics were really popular and effective.

Comms or customer service
It’s important to understand the divide between comms and customer services, although they do often intersect. People will often set up a twitter account just to complain because they think it may get resolved more quickly.

Darren’s top tips
You can’t get better, more concise than this. Thanks Darren Caveney:

  1. Spot opportunities. This isn’t as easy as it sounds because everyone is so busy.
  2. Be creative and take risks. Really good content doesn’t have to cost much (or anything)
  3. Be brave and confident
  4. Have a plan

Some relief but some challenges
The long term plan has some worthy aims and the increased funding will bring some relief, but it’s clear this isn’t a cash bonanza. The increase is only really a return to the long term average for the NHS and there’s a danger there may still be too many priorities and not enough cash.

Truth or dare
Spotting, refuting and coping with misinformation on social is now a key challenge for public sector comms and the Government is doing some really interesting work on this. It’s always a tough judgement call because sometimes inaction is the best action in avoiding a Streisand effect, but other times fake news must be confronted.

Importance of outcomes
Sometimes it can be very easy to get carried away with your own ideas for a post. Is it funny enough?  is it too funny? Is the tone right? The key thing to remember is why you are doing it. What is the outcome.

Recruitment tools
The importance of Linkedin and Facebook as recruitment tools has never been greater and with the workforce issues facing the NHS and nursing this is an area to really invest in.

Use your stars
People aren’t interested in organisations they are interested in people and for us we’re lucky to have so many frontline stars in the NHS. Use them to build your brand.

Pay to play
With organic views falling social really is pay to play so you need to build this into your overall comms strategy. An expert on social urged us to watch Linkedin as a real growth channel, tell better stories and think about private platforms into the future.

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