Since January, I’ve spent quite a lot of time hanging around London Bridge station. If you commute through there, you probably have as well.

The upside is that I get to ponder – at length – the glossy advertising on the large screens suspended above the concourse. It’s useful to see different creative approaches, and how different brands are integrating social with their above-the-line work.

Recently Oakley started running some short films about people’s sporting obsessions. But at first, I thought I was watching a cycle safety video from the London Mayor’s office. Take a look below and see what you think:

Imagine watching it with no subtitles, and hopefully you’ll understand why I was surprised and then a bit shocked to find out it is an advert for sunglasses.

As a bystander to a cycle fatality in London a couple of years ago, and a daily cyclist myself, I was pretty cross that Oakley thought this kind of riding in London was an acceptable way to promote their product.

I noted that they have an active customer service Twitter account, and assumed their team were sat somewhere in California, naive to the risks of cycling in London.

I got stuck in:

There’s a happy outcome too, I think. It took a few days, but Oakley emailed me and they have agreed to edit the film, and invited me to a safety workshop they are hosting in London.

I’m not sure whether it was my correspondence that did this, or interventions from others, but either way good on Oakley for responding and agreeing to edit the film. To date, I haven’t seen the film being shown again at London Bridge. If you see it, let me know how it has changed.

For the past six months or so I’ve been roaming around with my colleagues Al and Steph, talking to people about the Digital Action Plan: skills development for digital engagement and social media. It’s our antidote to traditional classroom and e-learning, and an opportunity for us to get under the bonnet of digital skills in any team* – customer service, senior management, communications or policy.

A blended approach of workshops, conversations, 121 support and online goals and support is a tricky balance to get right. Too much emphasis on the platform and we risk this becoming pure e-learning. Too much workshopping and participants won’t have the time to try things out for themselves.

Right now, I feel like we are close to getting the balance right (and it needs to vary a little anyway, depending on the needs of participants).

What have we learnt and observed so far?

1. We can’t solve basic IT problems in the organisations we serve (but we can use DAP as part of a push for changes)

2. The Action Plan helps to create a baseline of digital knowledge in teams, and encourages more experienced participants to be confident, or think of different approaches to tackling problems

3. It needs time and commitment from each participant, little and often

4. We need to make sure participants are only spending half their time on the platform, and the other half on the rest of the web – trying new things, reading, testing, experimenting

5. Patrons are really important. People who work alongside participants, who can nudge, cajole and enthuse as required.

*6. The most successful cohorts are those made up of volunteers, because they contribute and share their experiences as they go along

7. The sizzle is just as important as the steak. People enjoy an inspiring, structured event to kick off their learning

8. We need to listen to the needs of individuals, and not assume too much just because we think we know the organisation or the people who work there

9. When we see people connect with us online, or try something differently it is incredibly rewarding

10. Sometimes we see nothing at all, often because people feel they should be too busy to spend time on their own development. That can be debilitating. See 6 (above)

We still have a lot to learn, but this is the making of a good formula and we’re already starting to see exciting results.


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