Arc Seven Blog Archive - December 2015


Comms must continue to play a major role in the battle to tackle funding shortfall Posted by: Alistair Clay | 15.12.15

It’s fair to say that the social care sector was left rather dismayed by the Chancellor’s Spending Review last month.

There was consensus from the industry that neither the additional two per cent council tax levy, or the extra £1.5bn for the Better Care Fund, would be sufficient to ease the funding crisis that threatens to destabilise the sector.

For some reason the message doesn’t seem to be getting through to Government that the future of some providers is in jeopardy.

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PR lessons that could help us all Posted by: Arc7Admin | 15.12.15

By Esme Davies

Being totally new to the world of PR it was clear I had a lot to learn; my first blog attempt was a novel-essay hybrid, not exactly qualifying as an engaging, snappy read. Since that first month, a two-year A-level in English Lit became only a minor achievement in a world of fast-paced news and very precise messages. Now, after three months of learning the tricks of the trade, here are a few things I’ve learnt about PR.

Making your point and communicating your key message in as few words as humanly possible is a lot harder than it seems! At first I thought this was impossible. I was frustrated, wanting to sprinkle every sentence with fancy language and my ‘original’ sarcastic yet humorous tone. But do you know how boring that is to read? Long sentences that leave you slightly confused are really not worth the hour you spend agonising over the plethora of words you use…(ahem). The first line of a press release is your business or client’s time to shine and you’ve got roughly 25 words to sell your story as newsworthy material.

This may seem obvious, but it’s not easy, and there are many features of great writing that soon came to my attention. For example, never repeat the same word in a sentence if you can avoid it; exploring new phrases and synonyms allows your writing to flow and makes for an interesting read, rather than just repeating yourself, which in my experience will soon send the brain into some reading induced trance.

All this writing business seems strange when you are then asked to tweet using only 140 characters. At first you think, how dare Twitter restrict my views to this modest number, yet I soon realised that my first tweet was the start of my training for writing press releases. There is an art to getting it right so that people enjoy reading it and want to share your content with all their followers.

So this is not the industry to be a technophobe. It’s all about online presence, gathering a following on social media and sharing up-to-the-minute news, photos and compelling content can really help businesses build their brand and engage their audiences. This still applies even if the focus of the PR is local or regional rather than national, because it shows willingness to play an active part in a community, online and offline, and get your message out there.

But despite all the support working online offers us i.e. spell check, Google searches etc. we still make mistakes, and I guarantee that if you don’t spot them, your client or colleagues will. This at its core is proofreading, the comms ritual of checking spelling, punctuation, grammar and factual accuracy. To do your own proofreading, you need a fine-toothed comb and a pair of wide-awake eyes. Read your work word by word, then backwards, then normally, then start to panic if you can’t find anything wrong with it! This was my method of proofreading. You must then pass the job onto someone else to do the same. And while this may seem like a long and tedious process, remember that the finished product needs to be perfect, as after all you represent not only your own business but your clients too.

This is the most important lesson I have learnt from my PR education. Yes, it’s easy to be lazy and neglect reading work that you have just spent the last two hours writing, but it is important that you are a confident and reliable proofreader, so that you’re trusted finalising documents. I know that I will use this skill throughout my life, regardless of my career, and I think it would be wise, especially for people of my age, to understand this and pay a little more attention to how we present ourselves and our ideas on social media platforms and through our written work.

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How to evidence your outcomes Posted by: Gemma Keogh | 15.12.15

 

The quality of your social care provision is often judged by the positive outcomes that you deliver for service users, and crucially how those outcomes are evidenced.

A company-wide comms strategy, that tells the compelling stories of the individuals you support and your staff, plays an integral part in successfully documenting and demonstrating those outcomes to key audiences.

Here we look at the best three ways to evidence your outcomes:

Case studies: first hand accounts of outcomes are THE most impactful way to document the success your services and their users have achieved. The best and most powerful way to tell the story is through the voices of your residents/tenants. Interview them and use what they say word for word so that you capture the feelings generated by the outcome. Accounts of emotive journeys through care pathways or treatment plans will resonate with your audiences and demonstrate the real qualitative impact of your work.

Remember, case studies don’t always have to be written, think visually, and create video case studies that include interviews but also footage of improved health or a change in behaviour, in real-life. For example, rather than just saying that it happens show your service user participating in community events and using public transport by filming them. It may take more time and resources to organise properly but a three-minute film will often be well worth the investment.

Testimonials: speak to those who use your services, their families or friends, and see if they are willing to talk to you and record a testimonial. Recording accounts of how a particular type of support has benefited a wide group of people is a strong and impactful way to document the many layers of success of a service. It shows the extended reach of a facility and how different stakeholders are affected directly and indirectly.

Testimonials can be used on your website, in newsletters and also on social media. They are a great way to improve staff morale – teams respond better when they feel valued and praise is much more powerful if it comes straight from the horse’s mouth.

Photos: time-poor managers and staff, under pressure to complete many other reports and paperwork requirements, may not have the capacity to provide additional documentation for comms purposes. So this is where images play a crucial part in evidencing outcomes. Invest in a decent camera, or even a communal smart phone for services, so that whilst out with residents or service users they can record activities as they happen. Up-skill staff by investing in training and empower them to take great photos – there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing an image that you took being used across the company in newsletters, websites and even in the local paper!

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