This evening I attended a CIPR Wessex event at the Ordnance Survey offices in Southampton. One of the interesting public relations developments that the organisation presented was OS Explore, a new beta application.
The content of the site is produced entirely by users, for example, in sharing their personal suggested walking routes. Indeed, members of the communications team from OS are not commenting on discussion generated on blogs set up on the site, handing the development of the site entirely over to the interested community. So far, 26 groups have been established although the number of members in each is low.
It was also interesting to hear how the three main communications areas work closely together. These are:
- corporate communications (which includes media relations and corporate identity),
- public affairs (parliamentary engagement, CSR, educational outreach, community relations and working with other national map organisations around the world)
- marketing communications (research, print and online materials, sponsorship, etc)
A notable example of a campaign that delivers benefits in each of these areas is the free maps for schools scheme. This involves enabling schools to order a free map for every Year 7 child in the country (plus one for the school library).
In marketing terms, this helps promote the OS physical and online maps to the younger generation and their families. It is a good demonstration of CSR/educational/community outreach. The scheme further appeals to parliamentarians who are encouraged to get involved with their local schools. It, of course, offers excellent local media opportunities – and gets the OS brand into schools and homes around the country. It seems that everyone wins in this scheme.
It is always fascinating to gain an insight into how various organisations structure and manage their communications. This was an interesting case study, both with the extension into social media at OS Explore and strategic integrated communications.