Winning at #OurDay 2017

#OurDay is ‘the annual tweetathon that gives everyone who works or volunteers in local public services the chance to share their stories of how they improve the quality of life of residents’. Each year there are thousands of tweets from across the country about the tireless work councils do to keep our streets clean, deliver services and support residents.

Amongst all the tweets about refuse collections, fly tipping and graffiti cleaning (there were loads!), there were some real gems. I have made a Moment collecting some creative #OurDay examples. Here are my top three (in no particular order).

Doncaster Council’s choose your own adventure game

Do you answer the phone or stay and have another cup of tea?

Following on from the boat fly tipping tweets and the quest to name the new gritter (which made it on the Sky News!), Doncaster have definitely raised the bar for council comms.

Their #OurDay campaign is an interactive game where you get to live the experience of working for the council. Follow the story, choose what you do and you’ll be rewarded with gifs, emoji and insights you never knew you needed!

It must have taken lots of planning to put it together. Getting the logic right and creating new videos for the stories is no mean feat. They also created a new Twitter account so that all the components of the story didn’t appear on the main council account and then. Very smart.

Go and have a play with this now! And here’s part two of the story.

West Sussex County Council – Scamp cam

Video of sniffer dog Scamp

Many council have animals on the payroll. WSCC gave us a view from a sniffer dog, Scamp. We see Scamp on a dramatic mission to find illegal tobacco.

Watch Scamp’s mission

Forest Heath Council’s choir

#OurDay, sounds a bit like My Way doesn’t it? Well Forest Heath Council and St Edmundsbury Council wrote and recorded their version of My Way celebrating all that they do.

Video of the choir

Watch the first verse of the #OurDay song. The full three verse version is on YouTube.

Your favourites?

Have you seen any other brilliant examples? Do share. It’s a busy hashtag, so hard to keep up!

See also:




WrapUp London

WrapUp London, now in its seventh year, is a call to action. It invites Londoners to clear out their old coats, take them to drop off points from where they will be sorted and distributed to partner charities who work with homeless people, older people, refugees and women’s refuges. This year I volunteered for two out of the three drop off days at Liverpool Street Station. It was tiring but brilliant work. Usually I work at home, mostly liaising with colleagues and clients by phone or email. This was a chance to talk to people face-to-face and be in the thick of something brilliant.

On Tuesday we filled 49 giant sacks with donations. Each sack took between 10-20 coats. Today we filled 89, plus two suitcases! In total the good people of Liverpool Street and Broadgate donated men’s, women’s and children’s coats filling 154 sacks over the three days.

View into Liverpool Street Underground Station from upper concourse

Here’s why it works.

Clear branding and marketing

Wrap Up London – the name is beautifully clear, strong and emotive.

Clever marketing used red coats on London prominent statues which was eye-catching and simple. Amy Winehouse’s statue in Camden wore a red coat and branding on the banners included Nelson in a dashing red puffer jacket.

Of course, there were still people who hadn’t heard of the campaign (and those who weren’t interested) despite awareness raising in the run up to the collection days on social media and leafleting. But there were enough that did and many who had been looking out for the campaign after they had donated in 2016.

Clear action

Get rid of your old coat and it will be given directly to someone who needs it.

This simple transaction is motivating. It helps the donor to clear something they don’t want any more and they can imagine the person who might benefit from it instead. It is a simple ‘from me to you’ without any cost to the donor and a streamlined, well organised process to drive it.

Most people have an old coat somewhere – maybe a child’s coat grown out of or an impulse buy. There are some who are moved on the day to donate. One woman actually took her coat off and gave it to us (and then came back to retrieve her train ticket from its pocket!)

However, although it is a simple ask, the process of donating for most isn’t without effort. It will be time-consuming to find the coats, put them in a strong bag and it will take effort to remember to pick them up on the way in to work, then lug them on a squashed-in commute, and potentially modify their journey to pass by a drop-off point. It is precisely all this effort which makes it meaningful.

Some people go the extra mile. For example, some had specifically washed or dry cleaned their coats before handing them over. Many gave large donations of heavy and bulky items, some delivered them in suitcases which they then took onwards, empty. There were some people who bought donations every day. Some had travelled a long way or in difficult circumstances (including several people on crutches).  The highlight of my Wednesday was the stars from Spitalfields City Farm who delivered several bin bags and boxes of coats via three wheelbarrows which they’d pushed all the way from the other side of Brick Lane!

What struck me most was the urge people had to donate, to do something positive, something lots of other people were doing at the same time.  The kindness and enthusiasm was reassuring and wonderful.


This is a London-wide event, now firmly in the calendar. There are six tube collection points (at the major train stations – London Bridge, King’s Cross, Waterloo, Victoria, Liverpool Street plus Canary Wharf – with thousands of people passing through) open for three days, all staffed by volunteers plus drop-off points at Safestores for longer.

Many of the people donating today came with bin bags full of coats which were a collective donation from their office. It was something they could do together as no cost.

Thanks and encouragement

Donors of course felt good about what they had done. The transactional process of handing over a bag was met with smiles, thank you’s, chat, selfies and a cool sticker. Sometimes it was quick as people were rushing off to work or to get a train. Other times people stayed to talk.

People were also being thanked on social media by individual volunteers and @WrapUpLondon using #WrapUpLondon and #HandsOnHeroes. The energy of the campaign was infectious especially through the three days of the tube collection.

I wrapped up London stickers

It was brilliant. I thoroughly recommend volunteering next year if you get a chance (you can volunteer from 7-9 so still get to work on time) or taking part in other similar events. I can’t wait to hear how many sacks each of the locations collected and whether donations beat last year’s total and the difference they make.

In these miserable times, it was wonderful to see kindness and generosity first-hand and to see people doing something practical to help others.

Do can do something positive

You can still get involved – donation points are open until 24 November or you can text donations to 70070.

See also: WrapUp Manchester which happened at the same time. Here is a Moment from their day 2.

Think about how you could apply these principles to your fundraising or campaign.

If you want to galvanise collective giving, why not run a reverse advent calendar in the run up to Christmas.

280 characters on Twitter

In case you missed it, Twitter started to roll-out its 280 character limit to all users today. Personally I think it is a sad day and mourn the opportunity that everyone had to get a message across clearly and concisely in 140. Of course there is no reason why you now have to use the full 280. Readers still have short attention spans so being clear and concise still wins in my book.

Many took to the platform, responding quickly and creatively to mark the change by spreading important messages using their first #280Character tweets. Here are some examples taken from my #280Characters Moment.

Samaritans Ireland reminded us what they do. Haven House Children’s Hospice shared their impact in 2016/17.

Samaritans Ireland

Mental Health Foundation shared stats about mental health (as well as an image asking for donations). Crisis simply repeated their pledge to end homelessness.

Mental Health Foundation

Crisis - 'end homelessness'

Scotland Fire and Rescue used it as a chance to share some important numbers.

Scot Fire and Rescue

Others like Breast Cancer Care, the Met Office and Rethink Mental Illness used just emojis. (See also this from the Cookie Monster!)

BCC use emojis to make a big pink ribbon

Some used the extra space to say thank you. Oxfam used a video and RNLI a simple thanks.

Oxfam's thank you video

Book Trust started a conversation about favourite characters (nice tie-in!) and got lots of replies.

Books Trust

Some just went mad with the extra space! See GiveBlood NHS, Age UK Lambeth and the Science Museum. Plus Macmillan’s cake tweet and London Ambulance’s nee-naws (currently clocking up 15,000 likes and a nee-naw-off with other emergency service accounts!)

GiveBlood NHS, Science Museum and Age UK Lambeth repeat their messages over and over!

Well done to all who reacted so quickly in such brilliant ways!

Does your comms / social media strategy allow you the space to be reactive and creative?

See the full collection including tweets from museums and heritage organisations in my #280Characters Moment.

See also How 280 twitter characters could benefit comms people by Kerry-Lynne Pyke of Macmillan Cancer on comms2point0  with notes about how the increase should benefit charities who tweet in English and Welsh.

Did you spot any other good examples? Do you have a story to tell about your reactive comms? Please share in the comments.

Digital roundup – October

My top reads for October. Catch up with this bumper month!

Images from some of the content covered in the post

October was hashtag-tastic! We had #WorldTeachersDay, #WorldMentalHealthDay (see Third Sector’s series), #WorldOsteoporosisDay, #InternationalDayOfTheGirl, #WorldHomelessnessDay, #WorldSightDay and #WorldPorridgeDay. It was Breast Cancer Awareness month, #HospiceCareWeek,  It was also the month that the #RoundPound went out of use and many of us got our #FirstTenner.

It was also a month of great charity content and useful reads.

Great content

Headless weather presenter gives the forecast for Halloween

Useful stuff

Flowchart showing how to decide how to respond to trolls

Want more? Read JustGiving’s 10 things you should read this month.

Blog posts

Surprising content

Macmillan tweet about their charity number 261017

Coming up

November is sure to be busy too with #TrusteesWeek (13-17 Nov), #OurDay (for local government on 21 Nov) and #GivingTuesday (28 Nov). Plus all the preparations for Christmas fundraising and fun. If you are thinking about seasonal content, read my post about digital advent calendars.

Examples from WCHP, MS Society, Royal Marsden, New Mills Food Bank, Bliss, Bookstart, Family Holiday Association

What have you seen?

What did you read or see in October? Do share your highlights.

Cathartic and powerful storytelling

Sharing my story helped me to be saved from it” – Forgiveness Project participant, shared by Marina Cantacuzino at Being the Story 2017.

Using creativity to form and tell a story can be very cathartic. The process of writing or singing or producing images – just getting ideas or thoughts out of your head, onto paper, shared with others – can be very powerful.

4 speakers from Being the Story 2017

Several of the speakers at the second Being the Story from the mighty Jude Habib and Helena Hastings at sounddelivery talked about how being creative helped them – either with recovery, or to give a sense of purpose or as a way of making sense of experiences.

So we heard from:

  • Eddie who had found a new addiction to photography to help him recover from his addiction to alcohol
  • Amanda, who as part of a collective of 12 women told their stories of street prostitution through their book An Untold Story
  • Homelessness support worker Bryony who writes amazing poetry and ‘dabbles’ in blogging to share the experiences of the people she works with and the frustrations of the system (see some of her work in this Storify from a Lankelly Chase twitter take over she was part of)
  • Simeon and Dylan who were launching a YouTube channel, DatsTV to change the culture around street violence and gangs, following their powerful documentary One Mile Away
  • Ric who worked with young people and shared his experience of being in care.

The day closed with the Missing People’s Choir, fresh from Britain’s Got Talent, made up of families with missing loved ones, joining together to make music. (You can pre-order their Choirs with Purpose album.)

Harnessing creativity

Being the Story shows that storytelling has many forms and is a powerful tool for the originator as well as the listener. Take your comms hat off, step back from the corporate end-goal of influence via a comms strategy or fundraising ask. Think instead about the creative healing process.

How can you help the people you help to creatively represent their stories (with of course all your professional duty of care and support)? And the next step, think about whether sharing or publicising those stories could heal or hinder that person. For some sharing a story can be empowering, for others it could make them feel even more vulnerable.

How can you use your own creativity to help tell the story of your work? As frontline staff dealing with difficult issues or complex problems, we need a way to process these thoughts and experiences too.

As with last year’s event, the delivery was the most impactful thing. Hearing someone’s story first-hand, there in person through whatever means (poetry, rap, photos etc) was everything. A written case study doesn’t do it justice. Video and audio are the closest alternatives to being in the same room, hearing someone’s story.

Do you know of examples of organisations showcasing the creativity of the people they help? I’d love to see more examples.

Solving problems

The day also shared stories of people solving problems.

  • Ray set up a group of Geezers to combat loneliness in Bow, East London.
  • Nick set up a brewery, Ignition Beer to employer members of the Tuesday Club.
  • As part of the Power of the Periphery Rachel tackles class inequality via the RECLAIM project.
  • Onjali set up HerStory to support women escaping domestic violence.
  • Marina founded the Forgiveness Project to encourage people to consider alternatives to resentment, retaliation and revenge.
  • Dom is producing an app called the Patient’s Virtual Guide to fill information gaps and social isolation for children in hospital.

Such brilliant people doing brilliant things!

Want to know more?

Read the Storify from the event to see what people said plus clips of the performances and links to find out more about the people and projects featured.

Plus read blog posts from Gemma Pettman, Karin Sieger and Katie Duckworth sharing their reflections from the day.

I wrote this about last year’s event. You can also watch videos from Being the Story 2016 including the amazing Emma Lawton which has now had 13,500 views.

Don’t miss next year’s event – keep an eye out for Being the Story 2018!

Review and improve your use of images

In the day-to-day frenzy of searching for the right picture to use, it can be easy to rely on the same old ideas and sources. But what if your pictures have become stale or are reinforcing stereotypes? Images should be a key part of your content strategy and brand planning. Here we look at the three stages to help you review and improve your use of images.

drawings of faces

1. Describe your approach

We use images to do lots of different things. For example, your image may be working as a brand reinforcer, eye candy, information giver, tool to help skim reading, inspiration prompter or entertainer, social proofer, or as housekeeping. Bad pictures can alienate, frustrate, shock, bore or just be ignored.

Collage of images from google search for volunteering

Getting the image right on your web page, email newsletter, social media post or blog is crucial. How you use images might be different on different channels and for different content.

[See these posts from my archive. Social media: How to use images on social media / How to use graphics to illustrate data on social media / Say no to giant cheque pictures. Websites and other channels: How to illustrate difficult causes and subjects – creative solutions for case studies and subject pages.]

So the first step is to think about what you use images for and to document your approach.

  • Map out your different channels – where and how do you use images?
  • How does your brand or tone of voice need to be reflected in your images? How should images illustrate your key messages?
  • Do you use photos, if so what style (portraits, posed, in action)?
  • What’s your policy on using graphics or illustrations?
  • How should you be representing the people you help or the cause you work on? How do they want to be portrayed?
  • How do you use alt text or descriptions so your images are accessible? (For example Scope are the only charity I have seen who describe the images they use in their tweets.)
  • What kinds of images would you never use (eg cat gifs, case studies over 2 years old)?

2. Audit and review

Do a spot check on your social channels and / or website. For example, randomly pick 10-20 web pages or all the tweets or Facebook posts from five random days in the last two months. Screenshot each page / post and put them all together. How do the images come across?

Here are some questions to help you get a perspective on how your images are working.

1. What proportion of your images are:

  • portraits of people (either in groups or on their own)
  • places or things
  • original images of your work in action or from a photoshoot
  • stock photos (ie pictures from a photo library which you have a licence to use)
  • graphics (infographics or quotes)
  • gifs (and/or video).

There is no right or wrong answer for your mix. Rather, does it work for your organisation? Do these images appeal to your audience? Do they help people to understand your topic? Do they draw people in? Are they of a good enough quality? Do they encourage people to read / click / take action?

Get a sense of their effectiveness by using your analytics. For example, what happens when you tweet the same story using a different picture?

You could also run a focus group or get opinions from family, friends and colleagues to gather some insights into whether people like or understand your pictures. Remember that images are very subjective and mean different things to different people. This is why it is important to make sure your images are clear and unambiguous.

2. Are your pictures diverse? Do your pictures of people reflect your audience or wider society? Are there non-white faces? A mix of ages, abilities, genders?

3. Do you rely on the obvious? Are your pictures reflecting your cause, relying on stereotypes to quickly bring people in to your topic? For example only using picture of people sleeping rough to talk about homelessness. Have you got the balance right between the obvious image and others to help change perceptions? Do you need to reframe your cause to help people understand it better? Image are key here.

4. Are your pictures triggers? For example look at this NHS Choice page about eating too much sugar which starts with an appealing image of colourful cakes. How does it make you feel? (It makes me want the eat them rather than reject them!) There are ways of illustrating topics like these without making the bad stuff feel appealing. A graphic or illustration could also work better. Be mindful about the effect your pictures could have.

NHS Choices about about sugar, top image is green cupcakes

5. Do you have the right pictures? Are you using the same images over and over again to illustrate different topics? What are the problem topics which you struggle to illustrate? Talk to colleagues to find out where your gaps are. Then think about how to fill them.

To source new pictures try these links:

3. Evaluate your processes

It can be useful to do some information mapping about how images are stored, accessed and searched for within your organisation. Do you have a central folder / database for pictures? Does everyone have their own set of pictures? What are the steps you go through to find an image for social media, an email newsletter or blog post?

What are the frustrations? What takes too much time? How can you streamline the process to make it more efficient?

Mapping this will help you understand where you can make changes.

Some organisations have a central database to store their images using keywords and permissions to manage use. Are there any free systems out there? Could you use Flickr or similar photo storage sites with password protection? Or are there security issues with these? Please do share your experience in the comments.

What’s your experience?

This is a hot topic for many organisations I train when we are looking at digital writing. What’s your view?

Do you struggle with images? Do you have problem subjects? How do you manage your images?

I’d love to hear your experiences – good and bad!

Previous posts about images

Social media:

Websites and other channels:

Say no to giant cheque pictures

A company / school / church / family / colleague has done some fundraising and raised lots of money for you! Brilliant! You both want to share the good news. But how to show how much has been raised? Yes, it is GIANT cheque time.

The cheque photo is still much used. I spot on average a couple a day on my Twitter feed.

Collage of awful cheque pictures

Cheque pictures are especially used by smaller charities, hospital charities, hospices and corporates. They can be terrible photos, best suited to an internal newsletter or local newspaper rather than social media. People who have raised money will of course still want their cheque pictures and that’s fine. I think that that we as comms people / charity fundraisers can help make them better and/or use them in better ways.

Pictures on social media need to tell a story and be interesting enough to make you pause and read more. Posed people shaking hands over a big piece of paper (or sometimes small ones), smiling in front of a busy backdrop isn’t enough.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Step away from the giant cheque picture and make your fundraising proof more interesting. As the recipient of the money, you can say thank you and recognise the effort made in more creative ways.

Show your total in a different way

Who still uses cheques anyway? Think about how to show your total in a different / interesting / unusual way.

This tweet from BHF illustrates the contribution from their corporate partnership with DFS, raising £13m, with red number balloons in a sofa showroom.

BHF show their total in balloons

St Wilfred’s Hospice shared a cheque made out of chocolate.

A slab of chocolate with writing on it to look like a cheque

I really like this illustration of the total raised through Clothes Aid for CHAS (Childrens Hospices Across Scotland). CHAS also seem to take their mobile logo with them to announce big totals – see this tweet from the Edinburgh Playhouse.

CHAS - clothes laid out on the grass, in the middle is a child holding the numbers £500,000

Show impact

A cheque photo can be improved by illustrating the difference the money will make. Include beneficiaries or an illustration of what you’ll spend the money on. FitzRoy’s giant cheque picture includes staff and beneficiaries.

Cheque picture includes two people in wheelchairs as well as three others holding the giant cheque

Get a mascot

Make your cheque stand out by presenting it to someone interesting. Naomi House Hospice featured a giant teddy bear and a nice thank you for the £406.54 raised.

Cheque presentation with a giant teddy bear

Look enthusiastic!

Celebrate your good news with some smiles and cheers!

No cheque here but Pilgrims Hospices are celebrating a partnership with a team photo.

Smiling and waving staff in front of a bus with giant sunflowers

And Railway Children celebrated a long-term partnership with a cheque, big logos and a train! They look so happy!

Cheering people next to a train, with cheque and train logos

Don’t show me the money

A big thank you can be more eye-catching than a cheque with lots of information in tiny writing. See this example from GirlGuiding with a big thank you to players of the Postcode Lottery.

Thank you in big letters held up by the Girl Guiding team

Tell a story

The handing over of the money is the least interesting bit of your story.

Tell a story about how or why the fundraising was done. It is great to say thanks or be enthusiastic about the amount raised (“they/we raised an amazing £xxx”) but that doesn’t bring the effort to life. How many people raised this money? Over how long? What did they learn or gain from doing this? Can they share insights about why this money is important?

Take a look at these messages from Kidderminster and District Youth Trust (KDYT) which they shared on Facebook. The first message shows how they responsed to getting a donation, the second is from the donor explaining what they did and why the thanks meant so much.

Thank you message for money raised for a youth group

A story can be told in a few words. Acorns Hospice shared the story of money raised by a couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary.

Acorns - cheque for £150 from donations to mark a couple's 40th wedding anniversary

To cheque or not to cheque?

If you do have to use a cheque:

  • avoid the awkward line-up / shaking hands with the mayor-type pictures
  • use an interesting backdrop and make sure the picture is in focus and isn’t too dark
  • smile / be enthusiastic
  • use more than one picture – the cheque and then images from the skydive / fancy dress / cake sale
  • make the text interesting – use a quote and a link to bring it to life.

If you have to RT or share your fundraiser’s cheque photo, do it with a thank you picture and link to read more about how the money will be used. Don’t just RT it with no comment.

Other examples?

Have you seen any great examples of fundraising proof? I’d love to see them.

Read more about images on social media in my previous post, which is packed with lots more examples of how to say thank you and not be boring.