Twitter helps housing association spread the word about life-changing project
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
By Abi Mistry, communications manager, Eastlands Homes
“For the first time in my son’s life, I’ve been able to write my own letter to him”
What started off as the laborious daily task of checking, and responding to all social media messages, ended with amazing exposure for one of the projects we’re most proud of.
Browsing twitter I noticed a tweet from the BBC journalist Sean Coughlan about a literacy article he’d written and connected with him about it. Various questions did cross my mind before sending the tweets.
Why would the BBC be interested in a low profile project run by a housing association in Manchester? What if the journalist didn’t reply? The beauty of social media though, particularly Twitter, is that you expect that if you do a tweet, anyone can reply to it and start a conversation and equally, anyone can ignore what you say and it’s not really a big deal. With this in mind, I went ahead and sent the tweets!
Result! The journalist was interested and so an email was sent to Sean, with details of the literacy project, containing more than 140 characters(!). Sean then phoned me to say he was interested and the BBC would like to run it. I arranged to get a couple of involved staff and customers along to a half-day session with freelancer Katherine Sellgren to take part in an interview.
Several weeks later the interview happened and we were delighted to see that we had secured substantial BBC coverage! www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24641041
I tweeted the BBC link on the Eastlands Homes official Twitter and Facebook page to let customers know about our success. This is when everything snowballed! People far and wide commented on the article, some in housing, but lots of people outside of housing. We received great kudos for the project, and the organisation.
But it didn’t stop there. We’d entered our Literacy Project into Manchester City Council’s Be Proud Awards. We really didn’t expect to win our category, let alone win the overall Pride of Manchester Award, but we did! The council came and filmed the project beforehand without us being aware that we’d won, and the film was show on the night:
The project is now fully established having helped over 70 people so far to learn to read and write and we will be running workshops shortly to enable other housing providers run similar schemes. Eastlands Homes exists to create a better future for people in safe and successful neighbourhoods, and this project certainly does just that.
The literacy project has received immense coverage on social media as well as in the press and I’m quite sure that a lot of that is due to the initial tweet to the BBC. Of course social media can have its pitfalls, I’ve had to deal with a fair few situations myself, but it’s important to remember the opportunities it can create. We’re living in a social world and I’m excited by that!