Your View HQ – A New Day for Holdfast Bay

Today is a big, exciting day for me. Today we launch a new online Community Engagement hub for the City of Holdfast Bay – Your View HQ.  This marvellous initiative is a South Australian first and it provides the Holdfast Bay community with a convenient and easy way to get more involved in Council’s decision making.

Let's Talk

More importantly, it represents a Council opening it’s doors and ears and inviting, no more than that, encouraging and welcoming conversation and connectivity between both Council and it’s community as well as facilitating discussion and debate between community members.

The hub features news feeds, updates, polls, social networking links, key document libraries, a photo gallery, videos and other nifty features for people to explore and interact with.   Over the next year Your View HQ will host over 25 forums  for people to get stuck into – from dry zones, websites, master plans, libraries, customer service, public art and policy – there’s something here for everyone.

Coinciding with the launch of this online hub will also be improvements to other feedback mechanisms including feedback forms, face to face and other opportunities to link in with us – which ensures we provide other ways where people provide input via their preferred medium.

See, it’s very exciting and a real celebration for this community, which includes the seaside suburbs of Glenelg, Brighton, Hove, Somerton Park, Seacliff and Kingston Park.  I’m positive that it is going to make a HUGE difference, one which I hope taps into the enthusiasm of the people and stirs passions to reinvigorate the area, bringing new energy, zest, vitality and community spirit.

I hope you all get a chance to have a look this new tool and feel as excited about it as I do.  I’d love your suggestions, advice and feedback.  And by all means, sign up and give us your two bobs –




Book Crushing: Lucy Reads… “The Curious Garden”

Another book me and Miss 4 and 3/4s have on the go is Peter Brown’s “The Curious Garden”.

This book is about a little boy who lives in a very drab, industrial city.  On a walk he discovers a neglected lonely garden on an abandoned railway line.  He decides to help the plants along and in doing so creates this magnificent garden which has a life of its own and inspires others to join in.

It’s a gorgeous book and it speaks of hope, potential, determination and the power of one person to achieve amazing things.  As you can see above, the illustrations are truly wonderful.

What makes this extra spesh though is that this story is inspired by an actual garden in a real abandoned railway, called the High Line, in Manhattan.  Left decaying in 1980, 2 neighbours took it upon themselves in 1999 to do a spot of guerilla gardening, starting what has turned out to be a magnificent collective of community spirit in “Friends of the High Line”.

My fabulous Out-Laws are in NYC at the moment and visiting this amazing place is on the top of their itinerary – I can’t wait to hear all about it.  This place is truly magical and has become a place of true community spirit, co-opting, collective vision and energy, partnership, design, public art and performance.  You can check it out here: or by watching this awesome video (wait for the ad to pass, it’s well worth it):

My family and I are gardeners to the core, so this book is totally for us.  But if you aren’t the gardening sort or have had a couple of past tragedies, I hope this inspires you to go get a packet of seeds to sprinkle in your garden or plant a herb in a pot.  Give it a go – with the right amount of attention and love anyone can achieve anything.

Meg x

Community Engagement Is the New Black

We have arrived at a new era:  Community Engagement has finally got its groove on.  Coupled with social media, it means business.  Big business, or possibly the end of your business if you choose to ignore it.

The Evolution

The evolution of Community Engagement & Community Management has seen these two relatively background, feel good functions finally come into their own and get kick-arse serious.  The rise and rise of social media and crowd-sourcing + the increasing intensity of “Deliberative Dialogue” (aka meaningful conversations aimed at finding the best course of action),  has positioned Community Engagement to meet the demand where there is unquenchable thirst for people to be increasingly involved and participate in decision-making and in service provision.

Your customer/community now wants to chat: Oh yes, they want to tell you and each other all about it and have a genuine conversation, provide comment and be acknowledged and heard. Organisations are increasingly re-focussing their products and services to fit the customer, instead of the other way around.  They are actively instigating discussions and seeking out opportunities for community to interact and engage.  This is a MAJOR shift.

The Old Switcheroo

This has all brought about a significant switcheroo, with the emergence of relationship management now the primary focus, with good mates marketing, advertising & public relations, now making room to allow for this. Public Relations has done the best out of this deal, especially when PR companies have boarded the Social Media train on route to Community Management.

To clarify, the difference here is in the details:  Community Engagement aka Public Participation (big wave to my IAP2 buddies out there) is about actively involving your community in decision making and exploration of options. Note: Depending on your target audience, you can replace ‘Community’ with ‘Customer’ or even with ‘Staff’, it’s all pretty similar.   Community Management joins in by embracing the science and effort required to spark conversations and keep them going, about authenticity and multi-level feedback and the ability to influence.  CE guru, Angela Connor puts it best: “The fundamental difference between an audience and a community is the former can be bought, while the latter must be built”.  The big 3 of marketing, advertising and PR are usually aimed at selling you something (but not always – thanks Mags) – the transaction is mainly based on the holy $, where the currency for community engagement on the other hand is interaction.  As Brian Solis says “It’s About Listening, Not Marketing”.

That’s not to say, of course that the once primary trifecta are not still valuable or needed. This is definitely more of an “And” than an “Or”.  It is the most effective attributes of these all that result in the most successful approaches. When working in tandem, these functions together with Community Engagement and customer service offer a dynamic and effective strategy to doing business in the 21st Century.

Customer Experience & Organisational Persona

And here’s the other kicker.  Because it’s all about relationships, Community Engagement’s most significant other is turning out to be (surprise surprise) Customer Service.  Once seen as very different, it now appears that these two functions go hand in hand.  And here’s why:  Organisations are extending their focus on branding, to also include “Personas”.

“What the Where?” I hear you say.  Yes that’s correct – today’s digital media savvy customers are now expecting services and information to match their specific needs.  They need to be able to identify with the service provider. They want to be spoken to as ‘individuals’ rather than as one identity and again, they want to be heard.  It’s all about Customer Experience.

This is where Social CRM (Customer Relationship Management) models kick in – understanding your customer base through both market research and Community Engagement and then redefining your service to match.

Organisational Persona is like a cocktail – it’s like brand on steroids.  Personas are about brand meeting Social CRM – the alignment stretches beyond marketing into service standards, service models, recruitment, workforce planning, design, infrastructure, etc.  It’s holistic and everything matches. Your website becomes a critical window to your organisation and the tools and options you include reflect customer preference.  Getting this right should be the No 1 imperative.

Here’s my favourite infographic on the subject to demonstrate how “Social CRM” is changing the face of the world as we know it:

Infographic: The Evolution of CRM v2

So here’s the winning formula as I see it:

Social CRM + Community Engagement + Digital Media x (Marketing+Advertising+PR) + Brand + Persona  = So Hot Right Now

To use the words of the legendary Brian Solis :

Once again, share your views until your hearts are content.  I want to hear more – please point out gaps, present other options or say if this sounds about right for you.  It’s all in the learning from one another.

I want end by acknowledging the inspiration provided by those industry professionals I have been lucky enough to learn from.  Some local, some global, some I’ve read and follow their blogs, some I’ve never met and those who I am honoured to know and share with.  Many thanks.