Monthly Archives: October 2015

Social Media in Public Services – latest c-suite podcast

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The Northern Lasses were out in force for the latest c-suite podcast, when I was joined in the studios of markettiers4dc by:

And via ISDN by:

This was show 14 of the series that I produce for the CIPR’s Social Media Panel and the topic of discussion this time was social media’s role in Public Services and the ‘Influence for Impact’ report that the CIPRLPS Group had just launched.

There were a number of key themes from the report and aspects of social media’s impact on Public Services communications that we discussed including:

  1. Digital Transformation
  2. Budget Cuts
  3. Reputation Management
  4. Evaluation
  5. Training

The consistent message throughout though, was that whilst the corporate communications team had traditionally run all mass communications, as Bridget explained, that can’t continue when it comes to social media tools as, in her team’s case, they don’t have the resource to do so, especially in the face of budget cuts.  Therefore, whilst they are using social channels to be a part of the conversation as well as listening to what is being said, she sees her team’s role as becoming more strategic in terms of advising and influencing others throughout the organisation of what channels to use and how to share information through them.

Amanda had a similar experience, saying that they have had to train over 500 Police Officers and staff on how to use twitter to a very local level.  When it comes to influencing others within the organisation, she said that you have to make sure that senior people are prepared to accept some of the risks, particularly if you are empowering people to use social media on the front line, and accept that there will be times that things don’t work out, but as long as it’s something you can deal with and mitigate as best you can, then it shouldn’t lead to someone being disciplined.

Where things get difficult, however, are in live situations, for example, if an incident happens, it will be on social media before any traditional local media have even been in contact with the emergency services.

Amanda’s team are therefore constantly monitoring social channels, but this also adds to their communications role as this means they are taking on operational responsibility, finding information and intelligence on social media, which will help support the intelligence teams.  This is where I found it particularly interesting, when Amanda started explaining ‘predictive policing’ using Social Media, where she explained that studies have shown that you can look at social media postings and overlay them with hotspot areas for crime and particular crime types, and that, whilst this again, is a more operational element, it is important for her in how she can build audience and look at what that audience is telling them.  For her, this will help demonstrate her team’s value to the organisation in helping to prevent and detect crime.

This does beg the question though, in how far we are from Minority Report?


Perhaps one for another podcast …

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Communication let me down

[an edited version of this post was first published on]

If you’re looking to expand your business internationally, or are working for clients that already trade outside the UK, then you might want to pay attention to a new report that shows that British businesses are losing out because they have a lack of language skills and cultural awareness within their organisations.

The report is the result of work that I carried out for translation and localisation agency Conversis, since writing my post on the importance of getting the language right in international PR campaigns back in April.

Within that blog post, I referred to the fact that in the lead up to the General Election, the word ‘language’ appeared just once in the Conservative Party manifesto and not at all in Labour’s, this despite the fact that Baroness Coussins, chair of the APPG for Modern Languages, had previously said that the UK economy was losing around £50 billion a year in lost contracts because of lack of language skills in the workforce.

Conversis therefore wanted to look into the importance that the c-suites of UK businesses, that are currently or looking to operate internationally, put on Cultural Awareness within their organisations, together with the impact the current state of play has on enhancing their performance and competitiveness.

What we weren’t expecting though, was quite how much of an impact the lack of these skills were having on their trading opportunities.

One in four companies in the UK that currently, or are looking to, operate internationally said they had lost business opportunities because of a lack of foreign language skills, with two in five saying a lack of cultural understanding among their newest employees has resulted in the same.

Two thirds of senior UK directors at those businesses are worried that many young adults’ perspectives or educational experiences are not broad enough to operate in a multicultural economy.

With my own daughter starting university just last week, I was pleased to hear that she was considering chosing an additional language option with her course, especially as the research found that two thirds of respondents to the survey look for new college hires and graduates with first language competency other than English that can connect them to new markets. A similar number values those with the ability to speak other languages that are critical for their business’ economic growth and this percentage is also the case for those that say they would hire multilingual candidates over those who lack a second language. 61.5% also said they give an advantage to candidates with international experience and 64% to those with multicultural experience.

Gary Muddyman, CEO of Conversis, said “I believe the recent push to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects at school should be changed to STEM-L, to include languages too. The global economy and the Internet have changed the expectation of consumers across the world and we are now in a period of transition. The UK is falling behind the trend which will ultimately lead to a lack of competitiveness. Consumers are ten times more likely to buy goods or services if addressed in their own language, irrespective of their own linguistic skills. If we are not addressing our overseas customers in their own tongue we reduce the likelihood that they will buy from us.”

Glen Richardson the CMO of, a global marketplace selling 1.3m products in 33 countries, added “ exists because consumers want to buy products from retailers around the world and the majority of retailers don’t have either the technology, skills or knowledge in-house to fulfil global demand. Not only are there language, currency and payment barriers to overcome but also the cultural marketing know-how to attract and convert shoppers to buy. We solve these issues technologically as well as employing foreign staff with the appropriate skills and languages to service both shoppers and retailers in foreign countries.”

As I wrote in that previous post, getting the language right when communicating internationally can make a huge difference to the success of your PR campaign.  That said, I don’t even understand the lyrics of Spandau Ballet’s 1983 classic ‘Communication’, and they were written in English!

The ‘Importance of global talent within international businesses’ report can be downloaded for free from