Magazine article Public Finance

Tweeting about a Revolution

Magazine article Public Finance

Tweeting about a Revolution

Article excerpt

What used to be called the water-cooler moment could now more rightly be called the Twitter or Facebook moment Staff are now as likely to pick up news or gossip about where they work from email or social media as from official communications or colleagues.

Where organisations used to obsess about the staff newsletter, then their intranet, now many are switching to micro-blogging or closed social networks to talk to staff. Meanwhile, controlling messages and communications channels to the outside world has become easier to do, but less effective, with the channels available increasingly diverse and fragmented. So how does this change the way we talk with each other at work, and communicate with the outside world and our core audiences?

With the channels and outlets constantly changingthere are some fundamentals that do not change and to which we should hold if we are to connect with our audiences effectively. In this brave new digital world, the key to effective communication will alwaysbe knowing your audience, understanding your message and being astute about howbestto connect with them in all your communications.

So often an organisation can overcomplicate both internal and external communications resulting in missed opportunities, poor coverage or even reputational or relational damage. Recent examples from Twitter demonstrate both extremes. Greggs the bakery chain, when confronted with a PR disaster after a logo change, dealt with it quickly with a lot of humour and the offer of free donuts. Equally, the use of Twitter in political debate has sparked massive interest at Westminster. This has seen some national news outlets ranking politicians and commentators on their use of the platform and rival parties hiring expensive digital teams to help them win the social media battle.

However, there are many examples of how organisations can get into trouble very quickly. This was true of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Ann Barnes, who suffered extensive negative national media coverage when offensive personal tweets by a newly appointed Youth PCC, Paris Brown, came to light Indeed, the police have fallen foul of social media across the world. Things backfired when the New York Police Department asked the public to tweet pictures with the hashtag #myNYPD to demonstrate the friendly face of the force, only for their social media accounts to be flooded with graphic photos of alleged NYPD brutality.

So, whether you are communicating with staff or signing off a press notice, what are the basic principles of good and effective communication in any organisation and how can we all communicate better whatever our environment?


We can all be guilty of saying things for the sake of it, especially when we have a deadline for an internal or external communication. Sobe sure of your reasons for any communication and be prepared to hold back or cancel a newsletter or media release if it is just being done to meet a false deadline.


So often we know we want to communicate something but muddle it or confuse what we are saying by adding in extra information or bunching unrelated subjects together. Know your message before you start, work out a narrative arc that takes you from start to finish and stick to it


Whether internal or external communications, know and understand who you want to talk to, what their motivations and needs are and why they will want to hear from you. …

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