Reputation: not a goal but a measure

I am not Dave Briggs*.

I’ve been following the #lgcomms12 hashtag this week. This is the label for tweets from the LGComms Academy event in Birmingham. It is much more lively than in previous years I must say and it sounds like they’ve been having a really interesting time.

Richard Stokoe from London Fire Brigade has caused quite a stir. He seems to have been arguing that Councils should not care about their reputation. I’ve put a flavour of the tweets in a Storify. Richard refuses to tweet himself.

It is pretty strong stuff for corporate comms professionals. Managing reputations is what PR professionals do. Already under threat from digital comms, from people “just doing it” within their own organisations they now face one of their own turning on them.

Which is all to the good.

I’m pretty sure that Richard Stokoe does care about the reputation of local government. He ran the LGA news team after all.

But he cares more about looking after people. When I interviewed him about how London Fire Brigade approaches social media he was very clear that it is all about stopping fires.

I agree with that approach, communications activity should be about changing people’s lives. It should be about making sure that the vulnerable know what services they can access, it should be about making sure that everybody makes use of the recycling service, it should be about transforming the way services are delivered.

Though I have concerns about where that narrative takes us. If local authorities cease to care about their reputation locally that could take them into some very dark areas.

Local authorities are important. They intervene very heavily in the lives of the most vulnerable in society and they shape the environment and economy for us all. They regulate things, they balance competing needs and wishes, they hold the ring in communities.

If we don’t trust or respect our local authority it will find it hard to deliver services. It may make people’s lives worse. It will become dragged into conflict and a cycle of failed projects and angry customers.

Local authorities should earn and re-earn trust. They should care about their reputation: not as a goal in itself but as a measure of how well they serve their community.

PR in local government should be a tool by which citizens can drive improvements in the council. It should not be a tool by which citizens can be persuaded their services are better than they are.

*This is my first blog on Kind of Digital’s site. I have my own blog where I write about digital comms and emergencies. The plan is that, as I often help Dave deliver projects and training, I may post on this site from time to time about non-emergency comms stuff. But I guess that depends on how many complaints the Kind of Digital team receives.

Webchat – 12 June 2012 at 11am – on webchats!

A little while ago, we ran some webchats here, and they were pretty popular. Now we have the website sorted, I think it’s a good time to bring them back.

So, on Tuesday 12th June at 11am for an hour we’ll be having a webchat here at on the subject of… webchats! Nothing like a bit of meta-discussion to get the juices flowing, I think.

Seriously though, there have been some great examples of organisations using webchats to engage people with a policy discussion or campaign. We’ll hopefully be able to get some people along who have been involved in those and share some good practice.

Register for the webchat here – we’re using CoverItLive as usual (although we’re developing a plugin for WordPress that means we don’t have to rely on third party services in future…).

Look forward to chatting in a couple of weeks’ time!

New website, with added blog


If you can see this, it means that Kind of Digital’s new website is now live. We’ve given things a new look, and have organised the content a bit better, to give folk visiting the site some kind of idea about what we actually do.

A bigger change is that my blog, DavePress, is now incorporated into the main Kind of Digital site, and indeed DavePress now is no more. It’s a bit of a wrench, as I’ve been writing on that site since 2008, but the time has come where I needed to focus on the thing which is meant to be where I’m making some money.

In other words, I don’t think people generally associate the helpful things I post on my blog with Kind of Digital, the business through which I earn a living. Maybe I’m over thinking things, but at least having just one website to update will make my life easier.

Don’t worry if you are a DavePress subscriber though – we’ve moved you all over automagically. Likewise, all the links out there to posts in the DavePress archives will redirect to the appropriate posts here. It ought to be seamless. Still, if you spot anything janky, do let me know.

This move, enabling me to focus on this website alone, will also mean some more interesting things in terms of exploring good practice in digital engagement. So, expect more handy guides, video interviews with people doing awesome stuff, web chats and webinars. I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully you are too!

What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

Two cool tools for knowledge and learning

Neat applications for sharing knowledge and learning are like buses, it turns out.


Icon is a new app from Spigit, who are the leaders in innovation management software. It’s a really simple concept (which is good) – the online question and answer format, but for an internal audience.

So, what Yammer is to Twitter, Icon is to Quora.

It’s a fab idea and to be quite honest I have no idea why nobody has done it before.

Icon is free to get going with, and could be an incredibly easy way to build up a useful internal knowledge base. For those using Yammer already, there seems to be a way to integrate them, which is a good idea.


Lore is an online course platform. Unlike than big systems like Moodle, it focuses on making it really easy to make single courses, and to just get them out there.

It provides a place for discussions to take place between learners and teachers, accept and grade assignments, share resources, and to have a calendar for real life get togethers and webinars.

What’s remarkable is that it is free!

I’m going to be having a play with Lore to see how well it works, and perhaps put together a test online course about digital engagement, if folk would be up for it.

Thanks to Rich Millington for bringing Lore to my attention. Rich and his colleagues are running a free course about online community management using the Lore platform, which will be well worth signing up for!