If you’re not aware of his work, you should check out Steph Gray’s blog. Steph works at DIUS (the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) and as far as I know is the first person in government employed to deploy and embed social media skills and techniques across the organisation. And over the last few months he has been quietly getting on and doing a bloody good job.
I’m a believer that there is never one online solution to a problem (which is why I don’t like enterprise or corporate ‘solutions’) especially considering how many good cheap or tools there are out there across the web. What we need to do more of is experiment, lots. If you’re going to do that kind of thing properly, you probably need someone like Steph – who is a pretty good blueprint of the ideal social media evangelist in government:
- He’s not a designer, but has a good eye for design
- He’s not a programmer – but has a working knowledge of programming languages and operating systems to set things up (including this wonderful tool)
- He’s not a builder but knows how to deploy tools such as blogging platforms, customise them and make them work
- He has a strong communications skillset
- He has bags of common sense
- He knows where his expertise ends, is honest about it rather than trying to blag it, and always knows someone else who can help.
All of these are crucial and frankly, without that mix of skills, it would be very difficult to do what he is doing in any organisation (that is unless you had bags of money to recruit lots of people to cover the bases above).
Most importantly, its his full-time job, not part of it or an add-on. So he has time and space to get things right.
Steph’s done an impressive amount of work so far in the last six months, some of which is visible, some of which is not. He’s written some great pragmatic guidance illustrating ways of explaining the benefits of all this stuff to the business, rather than blindly evangelising social media for social media’s sake. And he’s been good enough to share it around to colleagues across government.
If departments are serious about investing in social media, creating online engagement opportunities etc, here is a very good yardstick to measure by.
If you’re a head of communications in government, thinking of experimenting in this area, you could do a lot worse than speak to Steph. Better still get him to help you find the right person.