Councillors connected: social media online conference

I’m going to be facilitating an online conference with Steve, Ingrid and others, which will be all about encouraging councillors to make better use of social web technology.

It will be happening on a Community of Practice, meaning that there is no limit on how many people can be involved, and no travelling either!

Here’s a quick outline of some of the discussion points:

  • What are councils and councillors doing with social media?
  • How can its use help communities and citizens make connections to local public services and the decisions that affect our everyday lives?
  • How can social media support empowerment, engagement and improvement?
  • What are the risks involved in these new ways of communicating?
  • How can councils and councillors get started?

Some of the speaker involved are:

  • Councillor Richard Kemp, of Liverpool City Council, Deputy Char of the LGA Executive and Leader of the LGA Liberal Democrat Group
  • Councillor James Cousins, of the London Borough of Wandsworth and co-founder of the Cllr Tweeps site
  • Dominic Campbell of FutureGov Consultancy
  • Shane McCracken of Gallomanor and CivicSurf (blogging mentor project for councillors)
  • Stuart Bruce, Wolfstar PR, former councillor
  • Hugh Flouch of Haringey Online (hyper-local networking site)
  • Simon Wakeman, Head of Marketing at Medway Council

It’s happening between 6 and 8 April. It’s going to be awesome.

Cambridgeshire County Council uses YouTube to encourage new councillors

Cambridgeshire County Council have put up some videos on their YouTube channel from the leaders of the three main political groups on the Council.

The aim of the videos are to encourage people to put themselves forward to become councillors.

As the Council’s press release states:

The films represent a first for local democracy in Cambridgeshire, with the leaders broadcasting individual messages on the importance of people coming forward as councillors for the County Council elections, to be held on 4 June 2009.

The videos are classic talking head style, and as with all initial attempts at this stuff, they are a little stilted. But that’s fine, and hopefully these councillors, and others, will continue to use YouTube as a communications tool – after all, with more practice things will always improve.

There doesn’t seem to be a single place for people to go to find out about becoming a councillor anywhere on the web at the moment – there is information on individual council sites, of course, and CLG have some bits too. London Councils have a special site to encourage people to consider standing for election. However, the content is very static and not particularly engaging.

Having some video stuff from councillors explaining what they do and what is involved would be great, I think, along with links to councillor blogs and other information resources. Even better would be some sort of interaction between those who are considering being a councillor and those with experience to pass on. Something to humanise the whole thing a little.