I was fortunate enough to be invited to this inaugural event which was run at the Mansion House, Dublin by successful entrepreneur Joanne Sweeney-Burke of the Digital Training Institute.

Image courtesy of Melanie Boylan

The range of speakers and level of knowledge shared was top-notch.  With the information packs provided at the onset of the event we were fully prepped with information on who was appearing what they were going to be talking about.

Not unsurprising really was that Joanne also went to the trouble of adding each speakers Twitter handle as well.  This would in turn encourage the attendees to hit the “Twitter-Machine” and help the event to trend – which it did indeed within an hour of starting and then continued to trend over Storm Hector, MoneyConf and #RoyalVisitCork at number 1 for the rest of the day.

The objective of the event was to encourage the public sector leaders in the room to create a digital transformation within their own separate areas.  This was demonstrated by giving them working case studies from public sector Influencers who are currently doing it from an active standpoint on a day to day basis.

Joanne Sweeney-Burke

Joanne opened up the event on a short presentation on with Why Trust is the #1 Currency in a Digital Age.  In a world of “Fake News” we have to embolden the true message and ensure that in the Public Sector we don’t dishonour the trust we are given by the public.

Andrew McLindon

The first speaker up was Andrew McLindon from An Garda Siochana who presented The Value of a Social Media Strategy.  Garda Traffic Twitter profile has been run as an informative yet amusing feed since its inception.  On this day however, we were given an insight to the power of their reach.  They have the largest social media audience in the Public Sector in Ireland with a total audience of 776,000!

During Storm Ophelia they were putting out tweets and posts warning their audience about road and weather conditions that were getting over 130,000 impressions online.

The most impressive stat I saw from them was during a CRYALERT:

By creating a relationship with their audience beyond warnings and cautions and attracting a strong, loyal following – they were able to get a far wider reach for this alert when they really needed it.

Kirsten Connolly

Kirsten Connolly, who is the Assistant National Director of Communications for the HSE came up next with a presentation on Online Crisis Management: Bringing a Vaccine Back from the Brink.  The controversy around the HPV Vaccine kicked off again in 2016 and it really hit the uptake of this new and targeted jab. (Pun intended).

Where ever you stand on this topic you must realise that it was very much affected by social media.  Emotive images and videos were shared online from both the “No” section and the “Yes” section.

This brings to mind the saying by Maya Angelou

“Facts alone don’t sway emotion and trust.  Trust comes in like a Tortoise and out like a Hare” – Kirsten Connolly

After a large social media movement that was far from positive the HSE had to bring in their own emotive response.  They created a response called #ProtectOurFuture on Twitter with Cervical Cancer fighter and advocate Laura Brennan.

Sharon Campbell

I learned something new about Trinity College in this presentation.  Sharon is the Deputy Head of the College and she was presenting #TrinityIsSocial – Engaging Staff, Students and Prospective Students.

This was a great mesh of the iconic College message and Millennial societal comprehension.  With the audience essentially being “Digital Natives” this historic institution had to reach out to their audience in a way they would understand and engage.  This authencity was achieved by getting the students themselves doing the talking.  They even got Trinity Ted doing his bit.

Image courtesy of Melanie Boylan

Barry Kenny

We had a very amusing presentation from Barry of Irish Rail on Customer Service on Twitter – Battling Storm Emma Online.

He said that the last big storm with heavy snow was a massive challenge to the “Orange Army” and it made the reporting of what was happening by social media all the more essential to their users.  They shared this video which went a long way into explaining their tone-of-voice and persona as well.

Cliona Connolly

I had previously come across Cliona myself from Snapchat and have followed her for a few years, so was delighted to see her on the list of Speakers.  However, it was disappointing to not meet her in the flesh!  She was unfortunately away for work but Joanne had a arranged an extrememly comprehensive video from Cliona and she presented Brexit from Brussels.  Make it Snappy! 

I remember watching this at the time on her channel and found it very easy to understand and frankly thought-provoking.  Cliona had saved the whole 24 hours of snaps on the day that Brexit was announced and the unfolding drama that ensued.  She displayed an array of emotions frankly all shared by us and explained in lay terms what each aspect of the changes meant for Ireland.

Unfortunately I can’t share the video or snaps here as they aren’t public but if you would like to build a better view of our relationship with Brussels then follow Cliona and the EPP on Twitter.

Lisa Smith 

Lisa dominated the stage with her presentation entitled Marketing to Millenials Mastered.  Lisa is the Founder of EngageSmith and she is also a Creator of Generational Index.

Lisa has coordinated a team of researchers and data scientists in DCU and Trinity College to bring this list out.  With this content she can help align direction and insights for organisations that are learning to market to their audience in a way that bolsters engagement.

Aidan McGrath

Aidan is Head of Recruitment at Beaumont Hospital.  He brought a very credible and authentic presentation named The Role of Social Media in Recruitment to us this day.  With his ingenuity and skill set he has reduced the staff nurse vacancy rates at the hospital to lowest its been in 15 years!  This has enabled them to open additional wards and reduce waiting times significantly too.

I see on a few Facebook accounts I manage that job roles are promoted and CV’s accepted through the platform.  You can even arrange interviews and call backs through it as well.  Every platform has created simpler ways to reach out and find the right people.

Aidan suggested that recruitement is as much about marketing as it is HR and as such, these skills need to be a requirement as part of the job role.

I have to agree with him also when he suggested that just posting about a job role isn’t enough.  We all make up our minds these days on businesses that we see online, by the impression they give when we look at their website and social media.

Paul O’Kane

Hands down Paul came across as the most natural speaker.  Which is just as well as he is the Chief Communications Officer at Dublin Airport Authority.  His presentation was called It’s All About Engagement.  Although he did say it helped at the beginning of their social media campaign when they had very little interest from the Public.  This was mostly because they were able to make mistakes and have only a few people notice.  They couldn’t get away with that now however, as they are the 4th largest social media account in the world and the most “checked in” location in Ireland.

With over 100,000 passengers everyday coming to the airport they find it essential to have a friendly but professional tone that is distinctly Irish when they they post/tweet.

Best quote: “LinkedIn is Facebook for Nerds”

During Storm Emma DAA didn’t release one Press Release, everything was conducted through social media – FACT!

Chris Adamczyk

What a fascinating presentation he brought the event!  The Role of Social Media in Emergency Response.  Chris was speaking to us from Mesa Law Enforcement Agency and was explaining how he and his team have been able to save lives by being responsive to tweets and posts online in real-time.

He mentioned how a tweet that mentioned a runner in trouble at a race had enabled him to reach that runner just in the nick of time.

His field of speciality is Intelligence and alongside his first responder status he has learned to identify, analyse and gather information from different sources to ensure that they correlate to an event and build a suitable response to it.  Once again another fascinating speaker, this time talking to us via Skype all the way from Washington DC.

Diploma in Digital Communications for Public Sector

Joanne Sweeney-Burke announced at the event that she was rolling out this specialist course that comes with monthly training, CPD and a Certificate.  The first round is now open for enrolment and indeed several people had signed up on the day.

Please vist the link above to learn more or contact Joanne at [email protected]

If you want to see more information on the topics discussed throughout the day then look up the #PublicSectorDMS hashtag on Twitter you can get a feel of what the other speakers discussed.

I would recommend you pencil in the 13th of June 2019 for the next event.


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