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Three tips for engaging young people with your organisation

So here’s the thing, you need to communicate with young people about something important, but not urgent.   How do you do it?

Here are three quick tips we have learnt from recent work with school and college students.

  1. Test your ideas:

    In any campaign you would test your ideas with your target market. Young people are not an homogeneous market that can be easily defined.  By asking young people what they think of your ideas, you will get very useful feedback and it will help make your engagement more pertinent and so more likely to be successful.  At a recent event we had a great suggestion that the large screen could have a rolling display of social media posts, instead of a video no one could hear!

  2. Create a buzz before the event:

    The best way to do is to work with local schools or colleges so that the students are interested in your “message” prior to the event. Clearly this is only appropriate where you are working on a public service/community interest campaign.  For example recently we worked on launching the #HealthforTeens website.   Before the event we spent lots of time discussing the website themes with schools, so that school students knew more about what was involved and could influence the message, in this case about how to stay healthy!

  3. You need to persevere:

    Engagement with young people is not a one off, but needs to be part of a plan. Young people are besieged by messages, and your message is quickly forgotten. To make an impact you need to provide regular useful information that is relevant and speaks to young people.   We worked with schools and young people, after the #FutureHeroes Careers Expo to reinforce the messages, because life moves on!  Your event maybe important to you, but it will be vying for attention, with all the other things going on;   your event is only part of your campaign.  To ensure you get your message across, you need to plan, persevere and persist with the campaign.

And finally…

Young people are interested in what you have to say, but you need to be open, approachable and willing to change. The campaign will be stronger, more successful and certainly more fun!

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Some nice workshop feedback…thanks!

Education workshop feedback

Since our intervention, Red Potato staff have received this great workshop feedback.

Many thanks to @welhatcouncil for these kind comments:

“We would like to thank the The Director of Red Potato, Jay Wheeler, who led the Education Workshop on Apprenticeships, Skills & Training at the Welwyn Hatfield Annual Alliance Conference on the 12th of November 2015. Delivering this key workshop played a valuable part in contributing to the overall success of the Conference which saw the launch of the Welwyn Hatfield Economic Development Strategy 2015/2016.”

At the conference it was great to hear from local schools, colleges and business leaders.  Most noteworthy was the way everyone committed to improving the prospects for young people in Hertfordshire.

So, as a consequence of the conference, it seems business and schools will work together more effectively.  If as a result of our intervention at the conference, we make this happen more quickly, so much the better!

http://www.welhat.gov.uk/article/6178/13112015-Alliance-convenes-for-launch-of-Economic-Development-Strategy
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How Local Strategic Partnerships can help stimulate (very) local economic change

Much of the economic debate is about the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS).  LEPs have the critical mass and potential access to resources to drive change and attract major investment to an area.  So what role if any do the Local Strategic Partnerships (LSP) have?  At a time of pressure on public sector finances, some local authorities are wondering what contribution the LSP makes to local wellbeing.   Perhaps one answer is for LSPs to remain hyper local and focus on economic change for individuals and neighbourhoods.    What follows is a brief description of how one LSP has addressed this challenge.

The Welwyn Hatfield Alliance (LSP) is located centrally in Hertfordshire, England.  The Borough includes the new towns of Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City aswell as several large villages, overall the population was estimated to be 114,400 in mid 2010

The Council has had to reduce its overall budget, at a time when demand for some services has increased due to the effects of the economic recession.  The focus of the Council is to provide strong community leadership.   This includes helping local people to compete for local jobs and supporting local business.

Action

Red Potato worked with partners from the Welwyn Hatfield Alliance (Local Strategic Partnership) to bring a new perspective on youth unemployment and entrepreneurship.   The aim was to replace, “silo” based economic development with a business driven campaign to improve the local economy and entrepreneurship.

Result

This is what we have done together:

  1. Set up a work placement scheme in which those on work placement are supported by an accredited mentoring programme
  2. Attracted FTSE100 CEOs to discuss with students their vision for business
  3. Local schools and college students have competed to raise the most money from a business idea for local charities
  4. Engaged local small and medium sized employers in apprenticeship schemes
  5. Attracted new employers to be involved in local Jobs Fairs

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Red Potato company compost heap – February update

 I know many people are not interested in the company compost heap and wonder why we at Red Potato go on about compost.  So I hope some of the text below goes some way to explain why we think compost is important

There is something quite magical about how our food scraps, grass cuttings, and leaves get transformed into the sweet-smelling compost that is rich in the nutrients to grow more food.   Here at Red Potato HQ we have just added several loads of horse manure to add to the mix.    Most stables are only too glad to let you have the manure for free; even a small stable yard can produce around 450kgs of the stuff per day – all of which takes up lots of space in the yard.   Sorry sounding a bit like a “storage salesman” – let’s get back to the compost….

Aerial view of bag of horse manure

Its been quite a dry winter and I’m afraid that we haven’t been watering the Red Potato compost heap sufficiently.   As a result the heap was looking quite dry and lifeless when we turned it over recently.   However since adding around 10 bags of horse manure the heap is looking much more healthy!  A photo of the heap after the dose of manure is shown below!

 

 OK so all that is fine for the garden, but what has it got to do with Red Potato – a new company which is uses technology to improve  community engagement.   Well, Red Potato believes in putting stuff back into the ground from which it was taken – “what ye sow, so shall ye reap”.   In terms of our business model we help public sector organisations get a better insight into the communities they serve, by enabling the communities themselves to tell their own story, in their own words – without the need for b*llsh*t or well-rotted horse manure!

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Too much data can lead to the wrong decision

The public sector deals in information, yet the value of that information is sometimes lost amongst all the other things going on.   Often we are asking elected members or senior management to make an informed judgement on policy based on too much data.   Yes you read it right, “too much data” masking the key points we are trying to convey.

The Place Survey contained vast amounts of data, but how much was then distilled into intelligence which could be used to drive local improvements?  I have been part of presentations where legions of graphs were presented on resident satisfaction and the importance of different services only to find that the data is used to justify existing policy.

Maybe a different approach is needed in which we use pictures to give direction of travel and focus on the issues being discussed.   Less data, presented more effectively can be more powerful.

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