BBC Coventry and warwickshire, public sector, hyperlocal and social media – an evening.

Monday evening was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours with a broad range of folk from the public sector, BBC and blogging communities in Coventry and Warwickshire.

We brought them together as part of the work we have been doing with the BBC to encourage stronger links and better understanding between mainstream news and hyperlocal blogging.  The BBC team n Coventry was keen to reach out to a broad range of people in their patch with an interest in social media.

a group of people sitting at a table talking

It was run as a very simple unconference – with those present setting the agenda for what turned into 3 separate 45 minute conversations on:

  • Tools and techniques and policies around social media
  • News and emergencies
  • Community and getting local

I didn’t manage to capture all that was said – but here are some bits that floated across my attention.  Please add any more you remember in the comments.

Tools techniques and policies around social media

This had a couple of senior officers from West mids Police, West Mids Fire Service and head of comms at Warwickshire Police plus Ally Hook from Coventry City Council and BBC journalists – here are my bullet points

  • Police using their own iphones –  policy perspective – how to buy the right equipment?
  • Gordon Scobbie when at West Midlands police-  why do we need a specific policy when we allow our police to engage on a daily basis.   We have enough trust in them to do that.
  • Over arching social media guidelines that really refer to other policies – also how Coventry City Council does it.
  • If you go out on the street you learn about body language – people need to learn the mores of social media.  Etiquette should be taught, not specific tools.
  • Warwickshire police very much to be convinced of the value.
  • Colleagues automatically think social media savvy public servants are techy and saddo – they don’t understand we are trying to engage with the community – and telling people what we do on a daily basis.

News and emergencies

This was the smallest group – journalists and the head of comms at Coventry City Council mostly (no uniformed folk to talk about coordinating emergencies and coverage!)  One key point really:

  • In emergencies agree a twitter hashtag quickly between newsrooms, police, fire council etc
  • Resilience team – it would help for them to agree to use social media.

Community and getting local

This was the group I spent least time with.  Things that I remember are:

  • Skilling up active citizens to use social media will help create local pools of activity which public services can join
  • These things are not very hard to do – sometimes it is just about showing people how easy it is.
  • Police finding they can connect with lots of people, but not always in the right places, is there critical mass at neighbourhood level.  If not is it worth doing?
  • Skill up your own staff to allow them to skill up others
  • Only 6 Warwickshire councillors were on twitter.  Sometimes you can’t even e-mail a town councillor.

There was much more said in this group – please feel free to add in the comments.

Who came:

  • Johanne Thomas, Homes and Communities Agency

  • Alison Hook

  • Vanessa Pearce, BBC

  • Jeremy Pollock, BBC Coventry and Warwickshire



  1. Fran Collingham says:

    It was a really useful session – I enjoyed the opportunity to chat to colleagues from across the city and wider region who are also interested in what social media can do in our communities. No particular magic answers to some of the issues we talked about, but lots of common ground and nice to see the real people behind the tiny mugshots on Twitter. Thanks, Nick abnd BBC for organising.

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