Funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government, this work is aimed at countering the growth of radical right-wing ideologies in the borough and improving communications between citizens and statutory authorities. This includes identifying and working with allies and credible carriers for messages, who are trusted by the local authority and community to convey information.
- Councillors: We have also helped to train elected Members and community Leaders to deal with competing sources of communications, correcting false information and exposing myths, to maintain trust and confidence in the community. This includes media management and direct engagement with those perpetrating myths. Councillors have been given the skills and knowhow to conduct ‘crisis communications’, use social media and develop blogs.
- Local Strategy Partnership: iMedia believes that public perception of local authorities improves when different parts of local government coordinate their communication, and that coordination can also bring efficiency savings. We have been helping the different elements of the Local Strategic Partnership refine and develop a communications strategy that is joined up and effective.
- Community Pride. iMedia knows that radical groups exploit communities who feel insecure. We helped Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council design a tailor-made community pride campaign called ‘Portrait Barnsley’ – a mass participation event held on 24 September 2010. Barnsley citizens were encouraged to take group photographic portraits on that specific day and submit them to a central website – using SMS, MMS and direct uploads. On the day itself a massive screen in the town centre projected the photographs as they were received and a music event provided a focus. In total, more than 2,000 people submitted photographs on the day and demand was so great that the website (see below) was kept open for the weekend to allow people to send in their pictures. The event is intended to become a community festival of distinct and shared identity.