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Social Marketing Network Roundtable
17th May 2011
Speaker: Stephen Howard, Chief Executive, Business in the Community
Topic: How can business help bring the Big Society to life?
Business in the Community (BITC) recently conducted a survey with their members asking them what the Big Society meant for their businesses. Overwhelmingly, the response was, “We’re up for doing more community engagement but we need help to do it and we want to replicate and scale the community engagement that has worked in the past rather than reinvent the wheel.” That is why BITC are investing in what they’re calling ‘Business Connectors’. Business Connectors are staff on secondment, recruited from business, and trained by BITC to “support and develop local partnerships between business, voluntary and community sector organisations to ensure that time, skills, money and knowledge are matched to local need and priorities.”
When we asked the roundtable, ‘What do we mean by the Big Society?’ it became clear that there isn’t a common definition or understanding of the Big Society across sectors. Roundtable representatives consisted of individuals from the private, public and third sector so as you can imagine, the responses were remarkably different. Highlighted below are a variety of responses that capture this month’s spirited roundtable debate.
“Big Society means working to develop the skills of these business connectors, find them, train them and support them. Companies should be putting employees into communities to build this idea. It is actually what we’ve been doing for some time so what we have got to do is distance Big Society from the politics and get the business and third sector to buy in to this. We need to think differently about collaboration and invest in a more integrated vision of cross-sector collaboration towards Big Society.”
“Big Society should be business-led not government-led.”
“Big society is about government reform with a focus on localism, by which we mean local ownership and delivery of services.”
“We need to take the politics out of Big Society. The narrative is dysfunctional and there is no common thread between the core messages of Big Society, localism, better regulation, austerity and because of this the Big Society is in danger of being a political football. There is scepticism about its sticking power and consequently the private sector isn’t likely to pin itself to such uncertainty.”
“Big Society is about companies recognising those employees who want to work in the community. We need to create businesses that are at the heart of the community and consequently create greater ties with customers. We need to push the value of this within the business.”
“Big Society is about what individuals want to do and it is the job of the corporation to recognise the individual’s desire to do that and to enable them by motivating and incentivising the individuals to change behaviours.”
“The Big Society is an ‘articulation tool’ to aid what is already being done and to group activities together. What I am most interested in is what difference the Big Society makes to the UK educational agenda. Big Society is about youth skills and employability and that’s not necessarily being translated as well as it could be. More needs to be done to inspire students in London.”
“The Big Society needs to be about mutual understanding. The sectors don’t seem to understand each other. Only 8.4 % of third sector CEOs believe that government have a good understanding of the third sector. If that’s the case then how can we enact one of the key Big Society themes of collaboration?”
“Big Society is about wider personal responsibility and individual empowerment.”
“Government wants localism but it doesn’t want parochialism. Big Society is sharing best practice and sharing it in an innovative way. Everyone wants decentralisation and devolution but we need to find a mechanism that allows people to still share best practice and learnings.”
“In two years time, the concept of the Big Society will be entirely different so an agreed definition is irrelevant.”
“Big Society is a customer-led initiative.”
“Big Society is about facilitating and empowering solutions for communities rather than imposing them. You need to listen and you need to garner customer insight to become a customer advocate.”
“The Big Society is about picking emerging consumer trends in order to be one step ahead in driving positive behaviour change.”
“Where does the business responsibility begin and end? You need to start provoking consumers into that behaviour change not simply wait for them to move forward first. What we have seen is that the private sector is keen to provoke behaviour change amongst their employees and their supply chain but not to their consumers.”
“Big Society is about solving global problems and making money doing it.”
Many thanks to Stephen for his involvement in this month's roundtable discussion.
Next month's event will be held on Tuesday 14th June. Chris Harrop, Group Marketing Director, Marshalls plc and Amanda Long, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Anglian Water will be speaking. The topic is: How to achieve a business revolution in the value of water. If you are interested in attending this event, please email: Elaine.Smith@corporateculture.co.uk
Please join our Social Marketing Network LinkedIn Group here.
Stephen Howard from Business in the Community with John Drummond from Corporate Culture.
Most people know someone who’s been affected by cancer. So we’re thrilled to announce the launch of the Cancer Chancer campaign.
It’s been created by The Manchester Versus Cancer Alliance, which is led by The Christie in partnership with the NHS and other supporters.
The objective is very simple: to save more lives by encouraging people with symptoms of bowel, breast and lung cancers to see their GP right away.
If these cancers are found early, they can be treated. It’s thought that around 460 lives in Greater Manchester and Cheshire can be saved each year if people act sooner.
The creative approach is based on conversations between a patient, and, importantly, a GP. It’s truly integrated – leading on outdoor advertising, digital (including a website and social media), radio, literature, giveaways and events in local communities.
Jan Hutchinson, Greater Manchester Director of Public Health for Cancer, said:
“There may be a number of reasons why people do not visit their doctor when they first spot symptoms. Fear plays a big part in this and often people worry about wasting their doctor’s time. Cancer Chancer reminds people that their doctor’s door is always open and that cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence – seeing your GP really could save your life.”
We supported Cancer Chancer with research, strategy and creative delivery.
For more information on the campaign, get in touch or visit the Cancer Chancer website.