In thanks of public service

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Sometimes I don’t want to watch the news. Tonight is one of those nights. I hope anyone who criticises any MP in the future remembers Jo Cox. Whether we like them or loathe them, they stand up for what they believe, and dedicate themselves to public service. It’s sad when anyone dies, especially when they are serving their communities. Jo Cox seemed to have done that in spades. Sad times. And especially for the two little people who won’t wake up to see their Mummy tomorrow.

Versatility rocks!

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Things are nuts at the moment. Sound familiar? Can’t believe we’re already over 1/6 of the way into the year. But what a start to 2016. I feel like I’ve been making great strides with my mission to give permission to our colleagues to operate in the social space. I’ve done presentations and chats with our:

  • HR leadership teams (x2)
  • Finance leadership team (and booked in for an all hands meeting soon)
  • Corporate Real Estate & Facilities Management Team
  • HNW Leadership team
  • Exec presentation to three MDs of our business units – Personal Lines, Zurich Municipal and Commercial Broker.
  • Diversity & Inclusion Leadership groups (with folks representing our Women’s Innovation Network, GLEE (Gay, Lesbian and Everybody Else) network, Cultural Adversity Group and Disability Inclusion Groups)
Got a few other sessions booked in with other groups around our business too so momentum is building.  It’s great to see peoples’ minds working when I’m presenting and the follow up enthusiasm has been great with prospect of plenty more to come! Just where I wanted to be.  I’ve started to build some training/info videos (showing colleagues how to best use LinkedIn, for example). And I’ve had colleagues around our business approach me for individual help and support as they start to do things like create content for LinkedIn pulse. #SoProud
pen knifeBut that aside, the purpose of this blog, is really around me as a professional communicator and two things that have come together.  Late last week, I was asked to help out with a short term resourcing issue in our employee communications team. I’m the sort of person that will always find a reason to help out and this is no difference. Yes, some of the above will need to need to slow down, but in picking up this account I’ll benefit in a number of ways:
  1. I get to get back under the skin of a crucial part of the business
  2. I get to build my network around the business which will actually fill a gap in my list above
  3. Gets me back into the art of writing different forms of content for different audiences
  4. Gives me a reason to deliver the social media message in a different, subtle way.
  5. Reminds me about the need to help people through change. It’s a matter of public record that we are making some significant changes across our UKGI business and we need to work with those in the new organisation to help them through difficult personal times, and maintain focus on delivering the 2016 plan – easier said than done!
Over the years, I’ve developed a skillset which means I can be used in this way – versatility rocks! There’s a whole debate going on around the need to move people from specialist to generalist. I’m very much in the generalist camp and the fact that I was sought out to solve a problem demonstrates the value that having that skillset can have to a wider team.
Coincidentally, I’ve just joined a new group established within the CIPR by former President, Sarah Hall – the Future Practitioners Panel. We’ll be looking at how the CIPR makes sure it’s training and qualifications meets the future skillset of communicators and how we can upskill the current communicators needs. Lots to do, but pleased to be playing my part. Keep an eye out for our outputs later in the year.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment or join the discussion

Metrics, goals and a January epiphany

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This weekend, I’ve had a sort of epiphany. It is January after all, so no better time!

I read a piece on Friday night about social media and PR metrics in 2016 by the guru of all things both, Stephen Waddington. Regardless of whether you read on from here, you really should read the post!

Then on Saturday I began a mass clearance exercise in our loft. It’s sort of our guest room, my ‘working from home’ office, my bathroom (best shower in the house in the en suite) and general dumping ground for anything that can’t go in the garage. All the kids old baby/toddler clothes are up here..just in case…  I found some green stuff up here today – apparently it’s called ‘Carpet’. But all sorted and cleared and now I have a much tidier working space.

Anyway, one of the piles on my cluttered desk was 8 months of print outs from the weight machines you get in Boots and other places. Last year, I set out to lose some weight (well shape really) and figured the machines don’t lie and I can’t cheat those ones. All-in-all, I lost best part of 2 stone during 2015 although prob put 1/2 stone back on over Christmas and New Year – pesky chocolate…. Anyway, I thought I’d just log the data from the print slips onto a google spreadsheet (really should use Google docs more..) and then bin the paper slips.

One of the reasons I wanted to lose weight/change shape last year was so I could get into the shirt I wore the night Mrs L and I met 15 years ago, on the celebration of our 10 year wedding anniversary. She wore her wedding dress, I wore the shirt you can see in the video here (it’s a classic!)

Anyway, back to my epiphany….. I had a clear goal, a set target and timeline in which to achieve it. And then I set about meeting it using a variety of tactics (eating well, cutting out crap (mainly bread) some nutrient/vitamin pills, exercising… who knew!?!…)

Weight line
Fat to less fat!

And when I saw what happened to my weight during the year. Down, down, down (wedding anniversary event), slowed down, no loss, went back up. (see left)

And so, piecing all those bits together, really made my think about goals, metrics and planning etc.  I’m not one to really do this – Im a stereotypical do-er.  Or maybe I’m a repressed numbers/planning kind a guy!

I really should have realised this before, (gawd, I’m 37 for goodness sake!) but it’s really struck me hard in the face of the value of properly:

  • Setting out what I want/need to achieve
  • Having way of regularly tracking the data behind it
  • Using the data to inspire or amend behaviour or drive intentions.
  • Having clear deadlines or timelines
  • Evaluating projects and goals

I really should do more clearing out shouldn’t I!!

Computers taking over the world?

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This morning I attended a session of the Digital and Social Media Leadership Forum in which we heard all about IBM Watson – a cognitive system enabling a new partnership between people and computers.

That’s the official explanation – but in simple Keith-type language, it’s a bunch of apps and systems that when you piece it all together, creates a really clever computer which delivers some massively impressive outcomes for the businesses in which it sits.  Naturally if computers will take on more work, then there’s a people issue, but it’s all about future proofing whatever business you’re in.

After the session, I did a brief video:

Here’s a video from IBM on what Watson is:

Thanks for dropping by, I do appreciate it. Feel free to comment below!

Let’s talk about results!

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Earlier this week, I spoke at the Getting Results from Social Media and PR conference at a great facility at One America Square in the centre of London. The panel I was on was about “How to Secure Senior Stakeholder Buy-In With Comprehensive, Practical Tools & Methods To Measure & Prove The Value Of Your Social PR”

My fellow panellists were:
Lucy Whitehead, Head of Digital & Social Media, First Group
Darren Jones, Social Media Manager, Post Office
Richard Bassinder, Social Media Manager, Yorkshire Building Society
Chaired by Paul Lockstone, Corporate Comms Chief at Barclaycard

Other brands we heard from before our session looked at Social from a beer, travel, fashion and weather perspective. For those brands they have fantatic products that people actually want (or want to talk about, or just do talk about in the case of the weather). For us less sexy areas, we have to work a little harder to find our audience, generate content and then, measure and analyse.

I’m newly into trying to get into the habit of painting pictures (for the audience) so if I was drawing a picture of how Zurich is doing Social, it’d be like being an Iguana. We’re making social work for our organisation/sector. We’re taking our existing position with a range of channels, and then retrofitting in a strategy, plan, plumbing, processes etc, in order to make progress going forward.

Now for us, we’re actually retrofitting from quite a healthy start. We have 7 channels, each covering their own respective audience group or customer, each with a fairly healthy follower level (north of 18,000 all together). But, it doesn’t appear to be the most engaged of audiences. So that is something we need to try and fix. And that involves creating a social business mindset across the company. We need to get more of the brilliant professionals in our business to be more social in their own professional communities.

On the Executive buy-in front I spoke about how we could appear to be a little old school. It probably won’t surprise you to know we, a UK operation of a global Swiss insurer, doesn’t have an overly actively social CEO, nor any of our MDs. But just because they don’t participate themselves, doesn’t mean we write them off. Far from it. I’m encouraging them to talk about social in the positive. To talk about the opportunity. To see the benefit of internal collaboration using our internal social networks and then to take that into the places where our external stakeholders congregate. And Im pleased that we’re making some progress there.

So it’s a top down, but also a massively bottom up approach we need to develop.

On the metrics front, many of the panel, and in the preceding presentations talked about hard financial measures – Cost Per Engagement, or Cost Per Click – as metrics they used. Great if you’re in that space. For many who find themselves in my position, we need to take it a little more softly. For me, one of my metrics is to get more of our 7,200 people to talk about Zurich and our business, or our products or services, in their own social worlds. Im looking at how many Zurichers say they work for Zurich in their Twitter bios for example.

For 2016, we’ll be working on our Conversation Club – finding our internal people who are active professionally and focussing some effort and resource into them. They’ll be people of all levels of the company and if they become more active, their teams, colleagues, (internal competitors! – yes, we all love a bit of competition)) will see it and join in too.

But at same time pulling together all the great content that we have and making it available to as many people internally who can. They might just share it with their communities. And that might end up in sales or people wanting to working for us. Win, win!

One other thing that stuck in my mind from an earlier session. Naturally we heard a lot about making sure you know what your customers/audiences want from you on social. The thought from me was “What if the answer is nothing….” I’ll leave that thought for another day.

Thanks for reading – let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking…

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Public speaking – easy isn’t it??

Over the next few weeks I have a number of speaking engagements lined up. I’ve done loads of speaking (in rugby meetings) or media interviews but never actually about what I do or how we do it at Zurich. But, I’m hoping the basics are there, but as ever, the doubt process kicks in.  I have to make sure I get my message straight (and simple) and then I hope the delivery will pan out OK.

I’ve been giving some thought to what I need to cover off. What do you think you’d like to hear in any of the sessions below? Let me know in the comments below

15 October – Social Media Risks Forum, St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel

 – Topic: Insurance companies have no place in social media. Discuss.

I’ll be outlining how we (Zurich Insurance UK) has approached social media across the company, discussing the chosen channels, content strategy and how to tread the fine line between customer and employee engagement and the regulatory regime governing the sector. More at:

16 October – The next day, Im at the Online Influence West conference where I’ll be joining esteemed social media gurus Jeremy Waite from Salesforce, Tania Seif from Coral, Thane Ryland from Microsoft and Holly Clarke from AirBnb on a panel at the end of what looks like a really interesting day. More from:

24 November
– I’ll be joining a panel looking at Measurement and Buy-in at the Social Media Results For PR & Comms Conference in central London.
How do you measure success? Examining the metrics and methods to evaluate your impact and engagement on social media and benchmark yourself against the competition
The tools available to analyse and monitor your platforms – are they worth it or are there cheaper methods?
Exploring the best methods for engaging and reporting to senior teams to justify the value of social media PR and comms
How to best consolidate reports across channels, harness the data and analytics gathered and feed into future campaign strategies to drive business change

Other panelists:
Lucy Whitehead, Head of Digital & Social Media, First Group
Carolyn Sims, Group Marketing Director, Time Out
Darren Jones, Social Media Manager, Post Office
Richard Bassinder, Social Media Manager, Yorkshire Building Society
Thanks for dropping by – please do comment and share. I really do appreciate it.

Proud Daddy blog – #Blogtober 4

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Unashamedly, today’s Blogtober Blog is brought to you by Proud Daddy Inc. Today was Seth’s first rugby festival in the U7s team he’s in. They’ve never played properly before outside of their training on a Sunday morning, but today is (hopefully) the first of many.

IMG_3092Coming the morning after the night before (a slightly smug Welshman writes..) I expected lots of glum faces, but not once did I see anything other than hundreds of running around enjoying the great sport that is rugby.

IMG_3078Here’s a pic of the boy, and above was the scene from the clubhouse balcony. He scored a bunch of tries across the 5 games, but it was just so great to see him and his team mates putting in such an effort to do what they had practiced. No grumps at getting beaten, or getting upset when things didn’t go well. He’s clearly got a bit of on-field leadership quality as he was shouting his “defensive line” orders around a fair bit.

I loved being on the sides, watching him do his thing and trying not join the many voices shouting (nee encouraging..). Hopefully his little brother can join in soon too!