Have been up in Birmingham for a few hours today speaking at an event for local government communicators organised by LGcomms.
Hearteningly the seminar was the most popular seminar they’ve ever organised, suggesting a latent demand for knowledge of new and social media among local government communicators. There were a range of presenters including the Home Office, Westminster, Essex and Medway Councils as well as Birmingham-based social media consultants Nick Booth (Podnosh) and Jon Bounds.
It was also great to meet a few Twitter connections face to face, some for the first time. You can follow some of the discussions on Twitter using the #lgcommsnm hashtag.
I talked about three examples of Medway’s work with social media – you can see the slides here.
On a practical note it never ceases to amaze me how wifi seems to be something hard for conference venues to get right. While wi-fi was available, for whatever reason, it didn’t work well as you had to keep logging in every few seconds. Not the organisers’ fault at all, but failing wi-fi seems to be a consistent theme at many venues I’ve spoken at or attended events at.
Back to the conference itself…a conversation with the conference chair got me thinking again about something that has come up in several discussions I’ve had over recent weeks – that there is not yet a single definitive online place or network that local government communications, marketing or public relations people can go to/use to share experiences and learn more about new or social media in action.
It was clear from the audience today that many councils face similar issues in how they use and integrate new media into their communications – and sharing experience and knowledge is important. I’ve written before about the various networks out there that exist for this already, although none of the communicator-specific ones seem to have reached a critical mass.
So what’s the solution? Dave Briggs has suggested some sort of place that brings together existing communities. I think I agree with his sentiment although I haven’t yet got it clear in my head what that actually looks like and how it works. Dave’s also putting together a potential one-day event for local government web people, although that’s likely to take a wider perspective on web stuff than just communications.
What is clear is that large numbers of local government communicators know they want to know more about social media and are happy to share their different experiences to help others learn more.
I’d be up for creating or facilitating something to make this happen online – but what would be the best way to do this? Should we create something new, or do we need to more actively push and work on community-building for one of the existing services (maybe the community of practice)?