Archive for September, 2009

“A crisis is just part of the challenge!”: maintaining or rebuilding reputation when patient experience is what now counts.

September 18, 2009

Andy Burnham’s speech to the King’s Fund yesterday made it clear that the money will follow the results of patient experience.

Whoever is elected to government next May is unlikely to make a significant change to that.

The direction of travel is therefore clear and NHS Trusts will need to prepare for that.

Reports from the King’s Fund and evidence from the United States, where competition is much fiercer, show that non-clinical experience will be at least as important to patients as clinical competence and effectiveness.

Overall Trust reputation will thus be increasingly important and NHS Trusts need a reputation management strategy that not only deals with the occasional crisis management that they are already used to operating, but also a longer-term approach to addressing all the issues that contribute to reputation.

Jonathan Upton, Chairman of the Campaign Company, is well aware of these challenges having led on reputation campaigns in health and other sectors. He is speaking at a Conference on NHS Marketing in Cambridge today. As a contribution to the conference and the wider debate, Jonathan and the team at TCC have produced a guide on reputation management that is available online here

The guide works from the starting point that NHS Trusts are by their very nature in the public eye.  This is because of the sensitive and responsible nature of the work they do and the money they administer on behalf of the taxpayer.

As well as the constant service pressures, there is now the current recession and the consequent pressure on the NHS to achieve savings to contribute to its own future growth to meet health demand. This will put additional pressures on NHS Trusts that most will not have experienced for more than a decade. In addition, many public services are recording higher levels of public mistrust.  An environment in which this is the main narrative may weaken the ability of NHS Trusts to influence the political agenda when big decisions on public spending priorities are required. At the same time crises occur that can set back years of work and poor patient perceptions may now lead to a significant loss of income.

The TCC guide may assist NHS Trusts who find themselves in this situation. It draws from the wide experience of TCC in tackling reputation management issues in the NHS and in the wider public sector.

As well as being online here it is also downloadable in PDF format here.

This posting was written by Charlie Mansell who is Research and Development Officer at TCC


Volunteering: the making of communities

September 14, 2009

As someone who volunteers with a number of different organisations I felt compelled to write something on the subject of volunteering and the positive results it has on the individual and his/her place in society.

Much research has been done to understand what motivates people to volunteer, but do these motives change over the course of the volunteering experience; what does it take for someone to continue volunteering and can these reasons be captured and articulated when creating new volunteering opportunities: in short can we formally structure volunteering activities to ensure a sense of community is felt by those participating in them? My initial thoughts on this start with a conference that I had been invited to speak at last month:

“Does volunteering include looking after my children?” The speedy response from the back of the seminar room took me slightly aback. My presentation was on the subject of ‘Volunteering: the making of communities’ and I had opened with a question, ‘what was the single most popular volunteering activity in the UK?’ It was a mild concern to me that in a room of social policy professionals, one generally considered that an activity involving the generic nurture, parental love and legal duty of care associated with looking after his children could be recognised as volunteering.

Needless to say I wasn’t quite sure how to respond; I could see the man’s logic, there were similarities: both activities – child care and volunteering – involved self sacrifice, community benefit and evening commitments, but some how this father figure was slightly off the mark.

Volunteering involves an altruistic desire to improve human quality of life by choice not necessity; indeed the context, as well as the motivation, of the volunteering activity can influence the creditability of the action. Volunteers are not just unpaid labourers, but have a purpose to their activities and responsibilities. They can also opt to walk away at any time, making their staying power even more valuable.

The answer I had down for the most popular ‘formal’ volunteering activity was donating blood; over 1.3 million people in this country, that’s 5% of the eligibly population donated their time to donate their blood to save a life. A simple message: save a life in your community, a simple action: lie on your back for 20 minutes and a simple reward: cup of tea and a packet of crisps. This was a volunteering activity that not only made communities, it kept them alive and kicking.

My presentation was on how these same principles could be adopted in local community projects to develop responsibility through structured and flexible volunteering roles that are relied upon by others in the community. Our research has shown that if a successful council-run volunteering project can create a sense of community in those people who participant in the activity then this sense of community was infectious; with volunteers feeling a place and purpose in their wider community. Not only this, but an hour given to volunteer for one’s community is a more valuable one than someone doing it for alternative ends.

This is highlighted through the work Richard Titmuss did in the 1970s where he compared the UK voluntary blood donations with its counterpart in the America, where blood donations were run as an enterprising activity. In America donors were paid for their blood, but Titmuss discovered that the blood they gave had more problems with it; the quality was not as good when compared with the British donated blood. Titmuss coined the phrase ‘gift relationship’ and comparisons can still be drawn with how a community resident and the local authority interact with each other.

Maybe if my vocal father friend had followed through the logic of my presentation he might consider fostering as his gift to the community. A father does not volunteer to look after his children as there is a legal requirement to do so. However a neighbour may babysit them on occasion and not be paid, which could be classed as volunteering – if only defined as informal. Formal volunteering moves past these ‘favours’ to create a role for a member of the community in a public setting. As one speaker remarked at the conference: we ‘need to formalise informal volunteering’, and in doing so brought into question the very ontology of ‘informal volunteering’.

Whichever way community volunteering goes (formal public sector ‘gifts’ vs informal one-off ‘favours’) there is one near certainty – you can normally encourage anyone to contribute their time to an activity with a promise of a cup of tea and a possible packet of crisps.

Alex Bone
0144 282 3530

Saucy Postcards?

September 10, 2009

As we near the anniversary of the once controversial, now revered, postcard artist Donald McGillThe Campaign Company (TCC) send a nod his way with our new promotional postcards!


Working with one of our creative associates,  Sheffield artist and architect in the making, Cecily Chua, we have produced a range of retro seaside postcards.  The nationwide campaign heightens awareness of the services that The Campaign Company (TCC) offers to the public sector throughout the country.


A total of 1250 postcards were sent between Wednesday 19th and Friday 21stof August, each featuring an individually hand written message tailored to the recipient.  We at The Campaign Company (TCC) targeted directors, chief executives and communications officers, with postcards sent to every hospital trust in England, including primary care, ambulance, mental health and foundation trusts.


As well as this, every major council in the country has received a postcard in a countrywide campaign to demonstrate creative flair with a light hearted summer theme.


A total of five designs were commissioned to be painted by Sheffield artist Cecily Chua, depicting traditional English seaside postcards with a retro twist in a similar vein to the work of Donald McGill.  The postcards feature bikini clad ladies, muscular lifeguards, ice cream vans and courting couples, much like McGill’s classic originals.


Each picture conveys a different message appropriate to its destination:  “The postcards have been designed especially to illustrate some of the services we offer,” says company chairman Jonathan Upton. “This ranges from member recruitment for hospital foundation trusts through to how we can help organisations build trust with communities.”

For more information about our creative side or our services contact:

Christopher Hill
0114 282 3530

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