This guest post from our head of comms, Julie Grant, is a response to a piece on our blog here.
As Head of Communications for the Trust I share some of the responsibility for the public relations and reputation management talked about here. I am also a firm champion of engagement and involvement – but in fact the two can live together. We have been engaging with social media for a couple of years and as with other online tools we started quietly and waited to see how it developed. When we first started using Patient Opinion I was worried that it was a very public way to hear about complaints and gripes about our services. In fact – although we do have some of those – I now realise that the vast majority of postings are positive in tone. When we get things wrong, as we sometimes do, then a public response to that is a really strong message about how much we value the feedback of our service users and patients (and an opportunity to make things right).
We have had real conversations on social media, with people in crisis or who just need signposting to the correct service. We try and be responsive, helpful and make a difference for someone. We can’t be online 24 hours a day but it is a measure of our commitment to this area that we have recently created and recruited to a New Media Specialist post. Nina is helping us make better use of social media in a meaningful way.
I agree completely that you can’t control social media – it is definitely the people’s voice. I’d welcome any ideas to improve what we do or how we engage – we are delivering your services and we want to know from you as to how we can do things better. I also think we are being more open and honest with the way we use it. There was a recent tweet about the lack of funding for CAMHS services, something about which I feel strongly. However I was worried that I was engaging the Trust in a political argument. I took the views of the team and we decided that most mental health trusts would agree with this view and so I retweeted – with more people retweeting after that. So we’re open to challenge and we’re trying our best – but we know we can do better and we’ll look to continually develop new media in an innovative and creative way, whilst not abandoning more traditional communications tools. Anyone for Periscope?!