Monday, 27 December 2010

Applications to support the "Happiness Index"?

2gether, the NHS Foundation Trust for Gloucestershire, is making use of mobile technology to promote mental wellbeing in the County.  Developed by smartphone applications developer Mubaloo, the "Moodometer" allows people to register how they feel throughout the day, via their iphones, ipads and ipods. This then provides users and their doctors with a diary of their emotional state, helping to identify any patterns to their moods.

The app is available to download for free via itunes and 1,400 people have already done so in the few weeks since it's launch. As well as being able to track user's moods, the Moodometer is location based, so users can see how others are feeling in the area. It also provides hints and tips on staying upbeat.

It's a great idea and as uptake increases, it will be interesting to see what picture it paints of the mental state of the residents of Gloucestershire. We published an article back in October, discussing research into using Social Media apps to deliver Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it's good to see a similar project in action. A Social Media version of the Moodometer would perhaps be  useful next step, broadening the reach beyond those who own the current platforms by which it's delivered.

If the project as whole proves to be successful, it could also be of use on a national scale. Following the lead of the international community, the Coalition Government recently announced it's intention to measure the Country's mood next year. This "Happiness Index" will look to gauge the well-being of the Nation, going beyond the usual economic measures of a country's success.  The Office for National Statistics is responsible for developing the project and is currently in consultation on how it would best be delivered.

A traditional, national survey will almost certainly be the  main method employed, but innovations, such as the Moodometer, could augment this with deeper insights and a fuller picture. The UK has an ever growing relationship with technology, which continues to offer new opportunities for engagement worth considering.

Should the localism that's prevalent in Government thinking at the moment also stretch to the running of this initiative, then regional organisations, such as 2gether, may be best placed to gain the required insight into their communities. To obtain a truly meaningful measure of how the population feels, fuller engagement than a paper survey provides will be needed. Local bodies know their communities best and already have an established relationship, with the corresponding channels of communications to attain engagement.

These channels can be complimented by sharing local research and developments, like the Moodometer. A central pool of resources, the required metrics set by Government, then the actual delivery handled by local organisations.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas, a time for Merriment and very little Social Marketing

Firstly, on this snowy Christmas Eve, the Rewarding Marketing Blog hopes all our readers have a very happy holiday time.

We'll continue to publish through the period, but we really are entering somewhat of a no man's land for Social Marketing. The time between Christmas and the New Year is traditionally a time when people cast off their worries, forget about the diet or curbing their drinking, and just look to have the best time possible.

This means any messages suggesting anything else will most likely be ignored and it's a safe bet that neither the NHS nor any other organisation, will even attempt to push them over the coming days.

Our previous article, When is the Best Time to Deliver Social Marketing?, touched on the subject, commenting on plans to influence drinkers on a night out, by suggesting that the hangover dominated morning after may be a better time.  It brings to mind the old maxim that, "Resolve is never stronger than the morning after the night before it was weakest".

So, I'm sure all good Social Marketeers will be ramped up to make the most of the festive hangover. The New Year always brings a great opportunity for looking to affect behavioural change. Not only have people often made resolutions to improve their lifestyle, they also head into a fresh year, looking for new beginnings. On a practical level too, after the expense of Christmas and the excesses in consumption, January is an austere month for most. A perfect environment to suggest cutting back or rethinking.

On Monday, we'll be publishing an article on a "moodometer" smartphone application, which helps sufferers of depression and anxiety, by allowing them to keep a diary of their mood. Something similar for New Year's resolutions may help them to be kept and I'll be keeping an eye out as the New Year dawns for if anyone's had that idea first.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Is Multi-Channel Communication the key to engagement?

services-multichannelBusiness advisory organisation Deloitte,  has just published details of their research into consumer spending. The study found that multi-channel shoppers spend a massive 82% more per transaction than those who use a store alone. "Multi-channel" means that the consumer uses more than one of a company's platforms, such as their shops, websites or catalogues.

It's a huge difference and has implications beyond the realms of retail. In this blog, we've regularly suggested that the Public Sector, and especially the NHS, should look to business to inform their Social Marketing and efforts to improve Public Health. The knowledge and expertise that business has in understanding and influencing the needs of the Public is a long established industry in itself, with years of well financed research into markets and the development of techniques to influence those markets. Examining research such as this and looking to how it can translate to their communications challenges, the NHS can save time and money doing it themselves.

In this instance, Deloitte's research shows the difference that connecting with people across multiple platforms increases their likelihood to buy a product. It's not too great a leap to presume the same would apply when selling an idea, such as those the NHS may be looking to promote in a Social Marketing campaign.

Ian Geddes, UK Head of Retail at Deloitte, said: “The multi-channel consumer is particularly well informed about the products they buy and this greater confidence is resulting in a higher value and a higher volume of purchases."

Expanding on this, multiple channels give a feel of more power to the consumer. Rather than receive a company led, singular sales message, the multi-channel consumer creates their own, choosing what and from where they take their information. They feel more in control, rather than being manipulated.

The same idea would apply to Public Health messages. Rather than a singular message from, say a television campaign telling people not to smoke, a coordinated range of channels is available, from which the Public can choose their own path to suit their needs. They then feel that they're in control of what they receive, rather than being lectured. If they then decide to make the "purchase", by stopping smoking, they feel it's their own well informed choice.

The NHS equivalent of the retail store may be a GP Surgery or Drop-In Centre, but NHS Hull went one further with the opening of Health Central earlier this year. The project is a unique and original concept in bringing health services to the Public, with a retail-style outlet situated in a busy shopping centre. Supported by various other channels, such as facebook pages and paper media, the facility has been a great success.

As we were heavily involved in the project, we shared NHS Hull's delight, when after six months it reached 10,000 people through the door. In effect, this is 10,000 "purchases", made possible by offering this new channel to the Public.

Innovative approaches such as this, broadening the range of channels available to the NHS, maximises their ability to engage with the Public. As the Deloitte report shows, multi-channel communications brings such significant benefits, that those running any campaign should always consider how they can take advantage of that potential.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Merry Christmas from eskimosoup!

We would like to wish all our clients new and old a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at eskimosoup.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for their business and support throughout 2010 and we are looking forward to continuing to work with you in 2011.

Goodbye to PCTs and Hello to GP Consortia

8-family-and-general-practitionersThe Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, confirmed this week what has been alluded to throughout the Department of Health's white papers over the last year. The country's 152 Primary Care Trusts, along with the corresponding Strategic Health Authorities are to be abolished. Responsibility for budgets and commissioning will be transferred to newly formed Consortia of General Practitioners.

The announcement comes as a response to the consultation following the plans laid out in the recent white paper. The changes will be staged, with PCTs following the example of many in London and the North East by merging into 'clusters', while overseeing  the formation of the consortia and supporting them in adapting to their new responsibilities.  This transition period is expected to run untill April in 2013.

To test-drive GP's capabilities in taking on the new role, 52 'Pathfinder' Consortia have been announced, covering about a quarter of the country's population. The full handover will not commence until these prove to be a success.

Confirmation of these plans comes in the same week as the Commons Health Select Committee has suggested that the Governments spending plans for the NHS will present a huge challenge. Though spending on health was 'ringfenced' in the recent spending review, the promised rise will be only just above inflation, in real terms and large savings are a requirement. The Committee says that an unprecedented level of efficiency will be needed within the NHS, for it to maintain, let alone improve, health services.

The proposed changes are obviously a part of making this happen, but implementing them in a time of austerity will be all the more difficult. Lansley's plans to stage the reorganisation are welcome in this, but making savings is a big ask of GP's, on top of all their new responsibilities. They'll need all the help they can get from PCT's, as well as the new NHS Commissioning Board and local authorities, if they're to meet the challenge.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Should Public Assets and Services have to make Money?

money_pennies_coins_sterlingGloucester County Council are embracing the Coalition Governments Big Society agenda, with the launch of a new scheme designed to encourage residents to provide services for their communities. The 'Big Community Offer' looks to transfer the management of over 30 community facilities, such as libraries and youth centres, to interested local community groups. Peppercorn rents, asset shares and start-up grants will be available in order to improve take up.

Gloucester are the latest in a long line of councils. The idea of community asset transfer has been around for decades, with all three political parties showing an increased interest in recent years and the previous Government initiating the Advancing Assets for Communities (AAC) programme, now in it's fourth year.

However, since decentralization and localism became the focus of the Coalition Government's vision for a Big Society, it's implementation has stepped up the agenda.  A recent report by think-tank ResPublica and the Development Trusts Association (DTA), who manage the AAC programme, goes as far to say that rapid, large scale transfer is 'essential' if the Big Society is to succeed.

The report states that assets by definition "... are a source of future income", and would be a means of wealth generation within poorer communities. Can that really be said of libraries, swimming baths and community centres, without changing their essential nature? Raising or introducing tariffs may bring profits, but that may then exclude the poorer people from actually using the facilities.

Do the community groups have to run the assets as businesses?

Peppercorn rents and other incentives may make it easier than a profit driven business, but money still has to be made, let alone to pay the bills, never mind to make the actual profits that the ResPublica report suggests. To apply for an asset, a business plan and assurances of sustainability need submitting.

Ok, things need paying for, but how's a library supposed to make money? A few fines? It's not a business. It shouldn't have to make money. But we need libraries, which is why they're paid for by government.  If they replace that funding with a few incentives, it's a save for the Government, but the Public's loss, if those assets can't sustain themselves.

These assets are being sold off because government struggle to sustain them. Do they really expect community groups to do any better, when there's just no money to be made? It shouldn't be about that anyway, but when the libraries can't pay the bills, it may not be too big a surprise if McDonalds step in and offer a big mac with every book borrowed.

The ResPublica report suggest that community groups will need a lot of support from Government, but if such public assets as libraries and swimming baths are to survive in anywhere near the form we see them in today, that support and especially funding will have to be ongoing.

So, what's this got to do with the NHS?

Part of the current redevelopment of the health service in the UK is travelling a very similar path to what is set out above. Communities and local organisations are being encouraged to take up ownership of local health services and will be expected to sustain them. If they fail, will Private firms then be offered the chance to do better? Only a few weeks ago, the first NHS Hospital to be run by a Private firm came into being, when Circle took over the running of Cambridgeshire's Hinchingbrooke hospital, and that may be the future for other locally lead facilities.

As with community assets, local health services aren't businesses. Yes, they should be ran professionally, but they can't always be expected to make money. Funding should come from Government.

And what about marketing?

Well, in all these transfers of responsibility, the change should be positive and an improvement. If it's just a change of ownership, with no noticeable difference to the people through the door, what's the point, except to save the Public purse.

The difference needs to come with those people coming through the door having a part of that ownership and the full community feeling involved. Rather than just passing the keys to a few interested people, there needs to be a true sense of community ownership.

For this to take place, effective and powerful community engagement programmes need to be implemented and maintained. Through these channels, individuals can feel a part of the whole, with a voice that's listened to and acted on. They can then develop a sense of ownership deeper than simply holding the keys, where they take pride in the mutually owned assets that serves themselves and their fellow residents.

Friday, 10 December 2010

How can Online Engagement be measured?

measurementIn the article we published a couple of weeks ago, A Human Face for the Department of Health: Blogging and Transparency, we featured Stephen Hale's excellent Department of Health blog. In that article, we highlighted Stephen's intention to develop and publish metrics by which to measure the success of their digital engagement and looked forward to seeing the results. Yesterday, Stephen made good on his promise and his 13 measure of success for government digital teams makes very interesting reading.

As Stephen states and any good Marketeer knows, communication and engagement campaigns are virtually pointless without effective, practical ways of measuring their success. This is often a challenge and especially so when the traditional measurement methods, such as the financial return on investment that might be employed in a commercial campaign, are entirely inappropriate. This is certainly the case with Government department's communication strategies, where it's not making money that counts, but rather making positive contact with the Public.

When speaking about digital engagement, the tools and methods available are vastly more complex, detailed and varied than any available outside the realms of the internet. There's almost too much choice and a large part of the challenge becomes as much about choosing those that will provide the most meaningful data, as it does anything else.

The 13 measures that Stephen and the DH Comms and Publications teams have developed demonstrate a deep understanding of the digital landscape. They would be relevant across all areas of Governmental digital strategy and would even be of use to Companies who struggle to take stock of the new discipline of online digital engagement. Hopefully the blog will publish results at points in the future, as it will be fascinating to see their effectiveness in practice.

A Touch of Christmas Magic at St Stephen’s

eskimosoup’s marketing and events team are very busy throughout December running Christmas events for St Stephen’s. St Stephen’s High Street is currently home to the Enchanted Hollow – a magical hub that is capturing the imagination of people of all ages.

The Enchanted Hollow contains a range of festive delights and is home to the St Stephen’s Ice Fairy, break dancing Santa’s and Marathon Santa.

Plus, it’s the centre for the Magic of Christmas giveaway. When shoppers spend over £20 in St Stephen’s they can take their receipt to the Enchanted Hollow where they will be given a prize with a value of up to £100. Neil Kingsbury won the top prize for last week, which saw him walk away with £100 worth of vouchers to spend in St Stephen’s – Congratulations Neil!

The Enchanted Hollow is open from 5pm to 9pm on Thursdays, and 12pm to 4pm on Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas. A new top prize will be unveiled at the beginning of each week during December via the St Stephen’s facebook page.

Monday, 6 December 2010

How much should Big Business be involved in Public Health?

0Sainsburys, the Supermarket Chain, has announced plans to offer GP's space to set up surgeries  in 204 of their outlets. The premises will be available free of charge and will be secondary to doctor's main surgeries. Sainsburys will also help market the services offered, as well as offering advice on commissioning.

This is a great opportunity for GPs, not only with the increased visibility and accessibility, but also to take advantage of high level marketing. Just how the Governments plans for GP commissioning will take shape is yet to be revealed, but if marketing their services falls within their remit, then experiencing how the experts do it could be extremely useful.

It's a prime example of Business collaborating with the Public Sector, in line with the Big Society agenda, as we discussed in an earlier article. As mentioned there, some may be cynical about the motivating factors, but Sainsburys has been clear in stating that the  extra footfall through their doors is the reason for the initiative.

Less clear cut is the deeper involvement of various food companies in shaping the Government 's public health policies, as reported earlier this month. McDonalds, PepsiCo and Diageo, amongst others, have been recruited into 'Responsibility Deal' networks by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley. These networks, which also include organisations such as Cancer Research UK, will develop suggestions for policies aimed at tackling national health issues, such as obesity and alcohol abuse. These are expected to form part of the upcoming White Paper.

We suggested in the article above that some may be dubious about such involvement from business, when their primary aim will always be to make more money. Indeed, this has been the reaction from many, fearing that policy will be twisted to financially benefit those involved.

It's a legitimate concern, but is it better to exclude Business from the process?

By working in partnership, they could be influenced to improve their practices, rather than leaving them to their own devices. They also have a lot they can bring to the table, with years of market research, knowledge and experience in their respective areas. Yes, you could argue that this experience is in making the problems worse, but if the current Zeitgeist is for them to make amends, then that experience would still be useful in doing so.

Having Business directly involved from the outset could also bring the benefit of having them help implement and promote policy and the actions that result. In the current climate of tight Public purse strings, the financial strength and marketing power of big brands could make a massive difference.

Traditionally, Businesses involvement in influencing policy is often suspected to involve handshakes and brown envelopes exchanged behind closed doors. To avoid suspicion that the Responsibility Deal Networks are not a more direct version of this, they will have to involve a great deal of transparency. If this isn't forthcoming and we see little of the discussions that take place, then the cynics will remain cynics and those on the fence may not stay there for long.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Local Government to take the lead on Public Health

englandadmincounties1996The Coalition Government has set out it's plans for the future of Public Health in it's new white paper, Healthy lives, healthy people: Our strategy for public health in England. Presented to Parliament by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, the document details the intended reorganisation and proposes the creation of a new public body within the Department of Health, with specific responsibility for Public Health.

'Public Health England' will coordinate and work alongside PCT's and SHA's, as well as newly formed GP Consortia, to deliver and commission Public Health services. A newly formed NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) will also have an involvement, but overall responsibility for Public Health will rest with the new body from the proposed date of April 2012.

Continuing the Governments agenda of decentralising power and in line with it's previous publications on the future of healthcare in the country, the new system will  focus on a local level. In an interesting move, the paper suggests that Local Government take the lead in this. A Director of Public Health (DPH) will be appointed by each local authority in consultation with Public Health England, be employed by the former and be accountable to both.

A DPH will be the strategic leader for Public Health in their area, being the principal advisor to the local authority on all health matters and how the authority's functions may effect the health of the local population. They will identify and tackle health inequalities and be an advocate for health in the community. The DsPH will also work closely with the local NHS and GP's towards that same end.

The proposals reflect the importance of preventative measures and the need for an integrated and holistic approach in improving the health of the Nation.

The paper states that more details of the changes are to come in a series of publications, before they're put to the vote when the Health and Social Care Bill goes before Parliament in the new year.

Getting that onfriday feeling!

eskimosoup has recently designed and launched a new website for fantastic upcycled and fairly traded bags specialists, onfriday.

You may look forward to Fridays? So do onfriday! Their imagination starts to run wild; they long for it and live for it. Fridays make them feel really good and so does their newly launched website.

Onfriday design and sell bags for both men and women ranging from backpacks, handbags, briefcases and many more stunning types.

Onfriday love great cutting edge design and really want to help young designers develop and grow. An opportunity to showcase and support some of the most talented and exciting designers involved in ethical fashion today whilst helping to promote a fairer, greener world is something onfriday is proud to support.

So why not jump in and start your onfriday adventure with them today…