Friday, 19 November 2010

A Human Face for the Department of Health: Blogging and Transparency

imagesFollowing on from our last article, Does the Department of Health make the most of Social Media?, we were grateful to receive a comment from a spokesman for the Department, Tim Lloyd. It was great to gain feedback on our thoughts from the DH and hopefully there'll be more to come, helping us offer greater insight.

One point Tim raised was uncertainty at what purpose the hypothetical DH facebook page would serve, which we recommended in the original article.  I responded with the following;

"I think what I’d see as a facebook page for the Department would be how I’d envisage any Government page; giving an approachable, human face, focusing on transparency so as to help demystify the workings of Government and to provide a Public forum around those workings."

I stand by this and certainly believe facebook is a great platform for this purpose. However, giving a human face and personality is more often the role of the blog and the DH have recently launched one that does just that. Written by the head of digital communication for the Department of Health, Stephen Hale, it aims to provide information on how they're using the medium and promises everything from "... the big strategic stuff to the daily delights and frustrations of working in government digital communication".

So far Stephen's only published two articles, but they're already really great, being very obviously from a real person and having just the right mix of informality with professionality and knowledge. In my opinion a perfect example of what a Government blog should be. Stephen himself mentions what an asset official blogging can be and has the intention of advocating the platform with Ministers and staff. I wish him all the success in this, as bringing that inherent transparency and personality can only help strengthen the Public's relationship with Government.

I'm champing at the bit to read more from Stephen's blog and to gain further insight into how the Department utilizes digital communication. Stephens latest article mentions developing metrics for measuring their success and I'll be very interested to see what he comes up with. It's a notoriously difficult discipline, especially within the Public sector, where the usual measure of  'sales made' has little relevance, so I'll look forward to Stephen publishing more details.

Read Stephen's blog here.

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