Tom Reynolds blogs at Random Acts of Reality. He writes authoritatively and authentically about life as an Emergency Medical Technician (Ambulance paramedic type). Today’s post goes straight for the tear ducts.
Last week I was at the Science Museum where I met Tom Reynolds who blogs at Random Acts of Reality. Jeremy Gould (Whitehall Webby) was also there are had posted some very good notes which I hope he doesn’t mind me reposting here:
- 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.
Tom Harris until very recently was the Rail Minister at the Department for Transport. He was and is also one the most engaging political bloggers currently writing. His style is informal and personal, yet he manages to be very political and informative about the workings of government.
He wrote an article about getting sacked as a minister and addressed the obvious question of whether his blog had contributed to it. He isn’t exactly unequivocal, but interestingly uses his blog to point the finger subtlely at what he believes is the real reason. Surprisingly out of the 27 comments so far only one person picked up on it, but the support for his blog is unsurprisingly unanimous.
The Blog Action Day site helpfully gives some examples of what various types of blog might post about. Strangely enough it doesn’t mention Civic Leader blogs so here is some advice for blogging councillors about what to write on Blog Action Day – Poverty.
- Highlight the work that has been done /needs to be done to alleviate poverty in your area. Even the richest boroughs of London such as Kensington and Chelsea have very deprived areas. The ranking of neighbourhoods on the DCLG Deprivation indices varies from the 1390th most deprived neighbourhood to the 32440th (out of 32,482). I’m told the difference in life expectancy between parts of K&C vary by ten years.
- Tell a story of local residents who have escaped poverty. The Big Issue introduce some of their vendors. Write about someone local to you.
- Write about and link to a charity you support that helps people in poverty either in the UK or abroad
- Write about work you do as a school governor or member of council to help school help children from poor households
- Write about your experience working with people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
You’ll have your ideas so please register at the Blog Action Day site and use your blog to help highlight what can be done about poverty.
“I couldn’t possibly hold a surgery and see that many people, speak to that many people or listen to that many people. And listening is what it is about”
This is my favourite quote from the CivicSurf film. It simply destroys the moan that blogs are about people ranting on. Tony discovered early on that they are about listening to people.
A few weeks ago we sent out the CivicSurf DVD’s and booklets to the CEO’s of Local Authorities around the UK. We quickly heard through Twitter and email that they had arrived but this morning came the first real evidence of the benefit of the project.
Andy Heath, from Wyre Borough Council in Lancashire, let us know that two of their councillors had started blogs as a direct result of the CivicSurf project.
Councillor Peter Thompson has been officially reprimanded by the national Standards’ Committee for the content of his blog on May 19, which it considered a breach of the members’ code of conduct as the website was used in a way that could be interpreted as political.
Apart from this looking like a political spat the story highlights the benefits of councillors setting up their own blogs and not relying on council provided sites for communicating with their constituents. It can’t be easy to be a local politician without be political. As Cllr Mary Reid says in the CivicSurf video (at 0:19 secs):
(h/t Ian Cuddy from PSF)
“I want a space where I can be what I am, a politician…”
It’s an area all bloggers would rather not get involved in, but it is best to be aware of the principles of libel and how it applies to you as a blogger. Mike Butcher, has written a very useful and informative guide to Libel and Defamation Law for bloggers. Read it and bookmark it.
Council officers might also refer to the Civil Servant social media guidelines recently published by the Cabinet Office. They are succinct but useful.
The Cabinet Office released “Participation online Guidance for civil servants” today. It has been some time in gestation but the really good news is that it is only one page long. In fact the guidance has been boiled down to 5 main points and a paragraph on how it relates to the Civil Service Code.
1. Be credible
2. Be consistent
3. Be responsive
4. Be integrated
5. Be a civil servant
It is good excellent.
Cross-posted from www.gallomanor.com
Mary Reid has pointed out that David Buckle, CEO of South Oxfordshire District Council has started a blog to keep people informed about the by-election caused by the standing-down of Boris Johnson.
Hats off to David for starting a blog at a time that will no doubt be busy and very high profile.