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Birmingham South Police – Tweet-a-thon 2

Birmingham South Police Tweet-a-thon 2 PosterIt was in January that I wrote a blog post entitled “It’s All About Communication” that described how my local Police force, Birmingham South Police had been hugely successful in using micro-blogging site Twitter to engage with the local community with the goal of educating on what West Midlands Police were doing to keep the streets safe, and to engage with members of the public who wanted to know more about many aspects of modern Policing.

As a result of the impact of that blog post, I was approached by the Superintendent Tim Godwin and the Community Partnership Team at Birmingham South Police to see if I could help them understand the further opportunities Social Networking can offer the Police for building relationships in the local community.

Since then I’ve been thrilled to be able to work with Birmingham South Police (BSP) as I see it as a real opportunity to help implement positive changes in my local area of Weoley Castle – the area I was raised in, started-up and ran a business in, and still live in today.

Interacting with the Police

Like most, the only interaction I’ve really had with the Police in the past was when something negative had happened to me – it’s the nature of the Police’s work that you’re not going to call them for assistance when everything is alright! But since I’ve been involved with BPS, it’s been a huge eye opener for me to see the work that they do – and the genuine success stories they’ve experienced in effectively partnering with the local community to tackle crime.

But as I spoke about in my original blog post – like many organisations and businesses in the service industry, it’s not enough that the Police do a good job – for people to understand and “feel” happier they need to communicate what they are doing that benefits their “customers”, and why.

Tweet-a-thon

Screenshot of Birmingham South Police Twitter feedWhich is why I think Birmingham South Police holding a 24-hour Tweet-a-thon for the second time (or, as it’s being calling – “T2”) is important to raise awareness of the good work that they do to keep people safe and to lower crime rates.

From 7am tomorrow, Thursday 7th July, the Birmingham South Police Twitter feed will be regularly updated in real-time with details the hugely wide ranging jobs Police Officers and teams undertake during a day and night. Trust me when I say it’s a real eye opener – and I’ll bet that like me, you didn’t realise half of the work that the Police do that takes place in a typical day!

You don’t need to be signed-up to Twitter to view the Tweet-a-thon – just visit http://twitter.com/#!/bhamsouthpolice or visit the Birmingham South Police Facebook page for more details.

If you are signed up to Twitter, then you can follow all the action by following Birmingham South Police or using the Twitter Hash-Tag #BST2.

Tweeting Live

As for me, I’ll be seeing the work the Police do in Birmingham South up close – I’ll be Tweeting from my own twitter account tomorrow live between 3pm and 5pm as I join Sergeant Tim Evans in one of the Birmingham South Police Cars attending call out’s in the area. I hope you can join me on Twitter to see how I fare, and Birmingham South Police to watch their “day in the life of” un-fold!

 

It’s All About Communication

Birmingham South Police Contact DetailsMy local Police force, Birmingham South Police, yesterday held a 24 Hour Tweet-a-thon to promote the fact that they were now using the social networking site, Twitter.

Tweets from Birmingham South PolicePosting Tweets throughout the day to highlight what the force was doing that day in my local area – which includes my hometown of Weoley Castle, as well as Quinton, Harborne, Edgbaston, Bournville, Cotteridge, Stirchley, Kings Heath, Kings Norton, Northfield, Longbridge and West Heath – there were reports throughout the day of crackdowns on crime including drug busts, road traffic accidents, suspicious activity reported by members of the general public and local businesses and even a lost puppy – all of which were followed up later on with news of how the incident was resolved (the puppy was found, safe and sound!).

I found the Tweets a fascinating insight into what my local Police force do on a day-to-day basis.

Birmingham South Police Facebook PageI wasn’t the only person who thought this – as the Birmingham South Police Twitter account shot up to over a 1000 followers throughout the day, and for those not familiar with Twitter, there was also a Birmingham South Police Facebook Page which also provided a mechanism to see what was happening and to provide feedback.

Now I know I’m not the only person who has at times bemoaned the fact that it “feels” there is never a Police officer around when you want one. I’ve heard this same complaint from neighbours and friends.

Statistics don’t make you feel safer

I’m also not the only person who doesn’t seem to find comfort in the fact that the Home Office announced that Crime figures had fallen 8% in the last Quarter. The statistic doesn’t make me “feel” safer.

Why is that? I think it’s because most people don’t relate to statistics, and instead go with how they actually “feel” based on what they observe.

I spoke to lots of friends and neighbours who had followed Birmingham South Police’s 24 hour Tweetathon yesterday, and without fail every one of them said something similar to “I had no idea of how much the Police do every day!”. From these conversations, I felt a sense of re-assurance and faith in the local Police Force that I hadn’t noticed before. These friends liked knowing what was happening locally – whether it directly affected them or not.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is – it’s all about communication, both giving people the opportunity to engage with you if they choose to do so, acknowledging them, and keeping people “in the loop”.

When I ran an MSP, I became very aware of the fact that we’d take clients on – it was typically when they ‘d been let down by other IT providers, their Infrastructure was in a shambles due to lack of maintenance, and IT was causing lost time and money on a day-to-day basis for their business. After we’d stabilised the situation with pro-active monitoring and maintenance, within months the client would often get to the point where they rarely needed to call upon our services to resolve problems – simply because the problems had ceased to exist. It’s at this stage that they started to question why they were paying for our services at all – after all, everything is now ok, right?

So the realisation dawned that it wasn’t enough to fix problems and proactive prevent others. The business had to be made aware of what we were doing for them, and how it helped them. We sent out Daily Reports, Weekly Summaries, and decision makers received Monthly Executive Summaries. On quiet days, we sent engineers to site to resolve problems that could be dealt with remotely – so we weren’t just a voice the end of a telephone. We regularly met with clients for Business Reviews – not just when there was a problem. Changes such as upgrades and patches were notified to the client in advance, along with reasons and timescales. Requests for support were followed up with regular e-mails and phone calls, both during and after.

Are you communicating well enough?

At times, the only complaint we got was that we “over-communicated”, and that’s a complaint a lot easier to deal with than having to to justify your continued existence to a client during a budget cut.

It doesn’t just apply to Service Delivery either. Ask yourself:-

  • Do your clients know about all the products and services you provide?
  • Do your partners and allies know about your latest successes?
  • Do your prospective clients really know that you can help them with their pain points?

Whether the regular Twitter updates are to continue from Birmingham South Police or not, I’m not sure, but based on the Tweetathon I think those involved at the Police force should consider the experiment a huge success – they’ve re-assured people, and there are around 1,000 local residents (effectively, their “clients”) who now feel connected and acknowledged by their local Police Force.

It’s an experiment that many of us in all walks of business and life could learn from.

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