I went along to the TALK Innovation and Transformation event at the Natural History Museum last week. Three speakers talking about their experiences of social media in the public sector, then a brief sales pitch about a Confluence platform tweaked for local government use, followed by a rather nice lunch and conversation.
One of the speakers was Tom Reynolds, ambulance driver and author of Random Acts of Reality. I was quite excited about hearing him as I’ve been reading his blog almost since he started it five and a half years ago. I think that probably makes him the first public sector blogger in the UK.
I wasn’t disappointed. Tom was tired, having come straight from a night shift (and slugged back Red Bull whilst he talked to keep himself awake) and although he wasn’t as eloquent as he might have been after a long night’s sleep, his earnestness and enthusiasm for the subject shone through.
I wrote a few notes which are almost impossible for me to read so what follows is a precis of my memory of the event. But even this is enough to contain some genuine nuggets of goodness about the power of blogging in the public sector:
- Bloggers are enthusiasts who care about their jobs and do it in their own time because they have a genuine desire to improve the organisations they work for.
- Individuals are generally considered to be more trustworthy than faceless organisations and readers of blogs invest in the writers. The personal neature of the relationships that develop as a result of this bypass the corporate PR ‘filter’.
- The value of blogging about your job for the public is that Individuals can tell great stories that humanise faceless organisations (who shouldn’t worry about bloggers on their workforce, their passion for the job is itself generally enough to prevent them saying things that would bring the organisation into disrepute).
- The value of blogging about your job for the organisation is that they can find out way more about what employees think than annual staff surveys (Tom told an excellent anecdote about ambulance workers whinging on an unofficial forum a few years back during a heatwave about not having time to stop to buy drinks when on shift. Two days later the management delivered pallets of bottles of water to the depot. The impact on staff morale was immediate because management had listened, and demonstrated that they had listened).
- The value to an organisation of senior managers blogging is that they can easily and quickly debunk rumours from the top of the organisation right to the bottom without layers of chinese whispers.
- Work blogging is the ultimate in transparency and openness, it needs to be embraced by more organisations. Bloggers are the best advocates and advertisements for their employers. They are evangelisers for their employers. Their reputation is their currency and bloggers will generally fact check each other.
Thanks Tom, really enjoyed the talk (and without the aid of the dreaded powerpoint). Hope you got some sleep after.