Me, Myself & I

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At Staffordshire County Council, our aim is to make sure that people who use our services are at the centre of what we do. One initiative that has used technology to help us do this and make services more accessible is a game called Me, Myself and I.

First developed as a board game that could be used to ask people with learning difficulties or vulnerable adults in supported housing what they need to live independently, it soon became clear that an electronic version could be even more useful.

So linking with Coventry University, and after extensive testing with service users, we developed an interactive web and app version of the game.

Me, myself and I is used by care and support staff to engage with a broad range of people with verymemeselfandI different needs and experiences. Its aim is that it is easy to use for people, from young to old, no matter what challenges they face so they can express their needs and preferences easily in an enjoyable and cost effective way.

By using the interactive game as an aid, people are signposted to information on the county council’s Staffordshire Cares website (@Staffscares)based on their needs and preferences. This can range from healthy living advice to staying safe at home and in turn helps individuals navigate their way through the care system.

The app is highly intuitive so has helped to really improve the experience for users. It is fully personalised and is more fun than traditional approaches that we used before, which is really important. It also puts people in ‘control’ of the support planning process rather than feeling done onto.

Using technology in this way has allowed us to be really creative in how we involve service users and citizens in care planning and to really promote ‘personalisation’. It puts individuals at the heart of making lifestyle decisions no matter what their circumstances and it has had really good feedback that it’s making a difference. In a survey with users, 91% said the game had helped to explain what is important to them. Me, myself and I has also been used by care workers as a way to consult with communities and as an improvement tool to help set organisation priorities.

We’ve recently been piloting how the app can be used with young people who are in care to look at how they are supported which has had some massive positives. For example we found the app allowed conversions that wouldn’t necessarily have happened and it helped to engage with more young people who traditionally haven’t responded to other approaches.

Based on this, we are now working to develop a young people’s version of the app so the content reflects the issues of relevance to them. So far Me, Myself and I has really paid off in Staffordshire so we are hoping that it will be used by other local authorities to support the Pathway planning process nationally.

Comments from people who have used the App

  •  I love the app, its different, it’s not boring

  • I like the app because it’s personal, it’s about you

  • I like how it shows you links to useful information if you need it

 

 

Emily Skeet

Commissioning Manager
Staffordshire County Council

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‘Fails’ campaign drives home alcohol fail message for 11 – 14 year olds

Alcohol Campaign Fail Banner

Alcohol Campaign Fail Banner

Up and down the country, one of the biggest health and financial costs to the economy is alcohol. This is no different in Staffordshire where we’re clear that to change behaviour, we need to intervene earlier than ever before.

At the same time, one of the biggest traditional challenges for councils is communicating with so called ‘hard to reach’ audiences. This can include young people who quite often would run a mile from people perceived as being ‘in authority’ – never mind a ‘stuffy council’. This is particularly true when it comes to lifestyle issues such as alcohol.

Recent blog posts have also talked about how we need to make sure we go to where the audiences are and walk in their shoes (see Dan Slee’s Create content without boundaries as one example).

We felt the same about this and so last summer, we decided to take a different approach in Staffordshire to target these issues, after asking young people directly about their drinking habits and what ways they like to communicate.

This work told us that there was a big difference between how often young people are actually drinking and how much and how often they think their peers are drinking.

We also knew from national statistics that children who had their first drink before the age of 10 sadly are considerably more likely to become a frequent drinker (once a week or more frequently).

It was clear we needed to be smarter to appeal to our target age group, who said friends and social media are the top ways for them to find out information and news.

So working with a variety of partners including Police, Fire and district councils, we set about developing with 30 young people an ‘alcohol fails’ campaign designed for other 11-14 year olds in Staffordshire.


‘Fail’ is a popular internet slang for short videos depicting situations with unfortunate outcomes and are used to point out a person’s mistake – a fail. They’ve got their own dedicated channel on You Tube that gets 1,000s of views on a daily basis and are extremely popular with young people.

One of most well-known fail virals is the Dumb Ways to Die public announcement ad campaign by Metro Trains Melbourne which provided inspiration for the campaign.

Using a leading Staffordshire based animation studio, we worked with young people to develop a series of animated videos with the aim of delaying drinking within that age range and to promote behaviour change towards alcohol.

The animations were based on simple alcohol related stories – future prospects, social life, education – followed by a clear fail message.

Their aim was to engage with young people in an appealing way so that they could easily see why drinking alcohol is a ‘fail’ but in a way that didn’t preach.

The style adopted is reminiscent of  retro ‘8BIT’ style computer graphics and music, which we knew to be extremely popular with 11 – 14 year olds and the animations, while not branded, had signposting to how to see more and access further resources. In designing the characters and scenarios the young people drew on their experience of popular video and online gaming.

It was a risk and at times, challenging but the young people who were involved were really enthusiastic. They had great ideas and really helped us to build something that could appeal to other young people.

We took a multi-platform approach and the resulting animations and visuals were shared on-line via the social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, young people being encouraged to share the fails with their peers (with parent’s permission if they were under 13).

This was supported by targeted activity in venues popular with young people, including the animations being shown at cinemas in the county before blockbuster 12 rated movies. And for free – a real coup for us.  Thanks to Comms2point0 who helped us crowd source clarity from Matt Bond and others on whether we needed British Broadcasting Film certification for the animations. That saved us £2,000 in the end so wasn’t something to be sniffed at.

Large visually cut out stands and counter top dispensers were created, depicting characters from the animations, and placed in video shops, cafes and restaurants and bowling alleys with postcards signposting to a bespoke styled website.

We also managed to get the animations shown at popular age appropriate Christmas ‘light switch on’ events, and at ‘nappy nights’ – targeted youth events at nightclubs in the county.  We also held a series of special town centre events, taking the message directly to young people in places where they regularly hang out.

It was a really different approach and it wasn’t all plain sailing. We also had quite a few ups and downs along the way. One of the toughest challenges was how did we evaluate the campaign and to be honest Public Health England who I asked if we could work with to agree a suitable behaviour change evaluation, weren’t much help. Their view was that the only true measure was the impact on alcohol sales. Given that the campaign was targeted at 11- 14 year olds, this didn’t really correlate. We’ve got some measures that we think can work now but there is probably room for improvement.

But we did secure funding from the IEWM social media ideas fund (part of the Best by WM social media white paper initiative) which really helped as it gave us breathing space to try out things we’d not tried before. It was still low budget overall coming in at £10K which the service paid for.

So far the results are making a difference.

To date, there have been 1,319 views on You Tube, 1,000 visitors to the blogging site which also includes step-by-step updates on producing the animations, and 1,881 likes on Facebook.

Out of 250 young people across the county that we asked about the campaign, 89% said they would share the animation fails and many of them had. And even more importantly for us, 89% also said they would think twice before drinking alcohol as a result of the campaign.

But for me, it’s summed up best by James Skidmore aged 11 from Heath Hayes near Cannock who worked on the ‘Disco Fail’ video.

He said:

“I went to a workshop, and helped design one of the characters in the disco video. It’s really good to be able to watch one of your creations come to life, and I feel proud that my ideas have been used. I hope these videos will stop the next generation of children from drinking and ruining their lives, and it is nice to feel I have helped to make a difference.”

You can see the videos at: www.alcoholfails.co.uk on youtube athttp://www.youtube.com/alcoholfails or on facebook at:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alcohol-Fails/553267381421635?fref=ts

There is also a behind the scenes documentary about making the fails including showing how all the animations and sounds were made by Tentacle. It’s really fascinating to see. Unfortunately it also includes really bad footage of me looking like a 1970’s over enthusiastic tv presenter (as a colleague described me) but hey I can live with that for a campaign that I’m really proud to have been part of, especially given the role young people played in making it happen.

We deliberately didn’t brand it so that it had more appeal to young people but similarly we want other councils to maybe take the approach and adapt it in their areas. If you’re keen to do this, do get in touch and let us know.

Finally, an appeal,  if you haven’t watched them yet, please do so and tell us what you think. Tweet me or leave me a comment below.

by Emma Rodgers

Staffordshire County Council

A Wikipedian in Residence – Staffordshire County Council

This was a 10 day residency which took place in December 2012 with Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Service. The project was funded through the Regional Museum Development Project which is funded by Arts Council England.

The aims of the project were to support the Archives and Heritage team to engage more fully with Wikipedia and enable them to use Wikipedia as a platform for:

a)      specifically uploading collections information

b)      developing more interactive ‘conversations’ with virtual users

c)      including Wikipedia as part of a wider social media strategy

The project supported both staff and volunteers to understand how to edit and create Wikipedia articles and to help to embed this knowledge and expertise in the Service.

http://flic.kr/p/8mh6Ga

Shugborough, Staffordshire

The Archives and Heritage Service hosted Wikipedian Andy Mabbett across its sites for 10 days. Andy worked with the staff and volunteers in the museum team based at the County Museum, Shugborough, members of staff from the Staffordshire Record Office and staff and volunteers at the Shire Hall Gallery. One to one sessions were given to staff on editing and creating Wikipedia articles together with training on the different uses and applications of Wikipedia. This work has contributed to the wider development of the social media strategy within the Archives and Heritage Service which is also looking at the best ways to use other social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, QR codes etc. Our resident Wikipedian was able to access the collections and displays to look at how these could link to existing articles as well as creating new ones.

The project was successful in the following ways;

  • It enabled staff and volunteers to gain one to one support and advice from an experienced Wikipedia editor.
  • It helped Archives and Heritage Service staff to increase access to its collections information using a free, visible and widely used digital platform.
  •  It has given the Archives and Heritage Service an opportunity to become a regional ambassador for digital and collections access.

 

by Helen Johnson,

Museum Development Officer at Staffordshire County Council

 

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Improving resident contact through social media

 

In Staffordshire, residents have told us they want to have more choice with how they engage with us and to be able to access us in a variety of ways, with minimum fuss.

We’re at the start of our journey to make this happen and show the direct link between a customer on-line experience and resident satisfaction. Over the past 12 months we’ve been working across communications and customer services to improve our approach to social media so it’s more responsive, engaging and consistent.

http://flic.kr/p/a2L4Qy

Rugeley houses, Staffordshire

Jacqui McKinlay, Director for Strategy and Customer Service said: “We used to manage social media channels within the communications team but found we were often becoming a middle man and weren’t in a position to respond directly to queries. By having joint responsibility for our corporate social media channels with customer services, queries and complaints are responded to more quickly and consistently and residents feel social media is a valid contact choice.

This approach allows us to spot trends coming into our contact centre and proactively share that information on-line giving us a wider reach than a phone call would. It gives us an integrated approach – we’re regularly adding to the number of self serve activities people can do across our social media platforms and we’ve extended this to our communications campaigns so the customer experience is intrinsically linked.”

An example of where this has worked well is our recent potholes campaign. Following the bad winter weather, we saw a 68% increase in potholes across the county. While not unique to Staffordshire, it was affecting public perceptions and resulting in more calls to our contact centre. £500,000 was invested in making improvements and we undertook an integrated campaign to inform residents of the investment. Through social media and other channels, the campaign signposted residents to report potholes in their area.

The results showed a 200% increase in visitors to our report it webpage with 33.5% of web traffic coming as a direct result of our social media activity [previously primary driver for web traffic was Google]. Our customer services team also proactively contacted nearly 350 people who reported potholes to update them on progress. This was well received and resulted in various compliments, many from previously disgruntled residents.

 “Within Customer Services, calls are prioritised as a contact channel”,  explains Hannah Cotton-Dietrich, Customer Services Manager Access.

“We’re building on what we do to give social media enquiries an equal footing. Already we give social media enquiries a customer reference number – the next step is looking at how we can integrate our digital contacts into our new Customer Relationship Management System. We’re also exploring the financial savings that could come as a result of channel shift towards social media.”

“Later in the year, we’re undertaking two campaigns – one to proactively promote social media as a contact channel and our new self serve options as they come on-line and the other to promote the use of social media accounts for front-line staff to encourage resident engagement. There’s a lot to do but the use of social media is only going to grow so it’s worth the investment now.”

 

by Emma Rodgers,

 Staffordshire County Council

 

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