For the last five years, CHC have also run a PR and Communication awards ceremony to showcase the excellent work of housing association communication teams across Wales.
This year’s awards were judged by an external panel – 24housing’s Mark Lawrence, Jules Birch (editor of Welsh Housing Quarterly), Dan Sargent (Creative Director at Blue Stag) and Laurian Hubbard (current CIPR Cymru Young Communicator of the Year).
The judges all commented on the high standard of entries – these are all small teams and they’re achieving fantastic things across Wales.
And the winners were…
Best Use of Digital – Bron Afon Community Housing
2016 was the year Bron Afon went nuts with videos on Facebook! From job adverts and fire safety information to community clear-ups and Hollywood movie star visits, the comms team’s office iPad, camera and mobile phones were constantly recording.
The team shared 62 videos on Facebook last year which attracted a staggering 77,560 views.
Best Use of Print – Cardiff Community Housing Association
In 2016, CCHA decided to refresh its tenant magazine and also looked into outsourcing the production of their rent statements.
In an effort to combine resources, they combined the two mailings. Rent statements were easier to understand for tenants and the magazine’s content was changed following feedback that it should be more ‘future-focused’. Feedback on both has been excellent so far!
Most innovative initiative of 2016 – Merthyr Valleys Homes
Merthyr Valleys Homes produced an annual report with a difference for 2015/16. Judges loved the ‘Working Across the Borough’ section, an interactive map which highlights the range of work carried out by MVH.
Work has been categorised into 5 sections, and when you hover over a pin you see pop-ups with images and further information. An innovative way of displaying information!
Best example of internal comms – Trivallis
Merlin, Trivallis’ intranet, was born following focus groups and surveys with 150 members of staff. Throughout 2016, an internal communications campaign celebrated Merlin’s successes and increased staff engagement.
On Merlin’s one-year anniversary, awards were given to those who regularly contribute and winners are now being used as ‘wizards’ to inspire others to use Merlin. The intranet was visited over 150,000 times in 2016!
Best external campaign – Cartrefi Conwy
The Take Control Campaign is Cartrefi Conwy’s response to the introduction of Universal Credit. Tenants are encouraged to ‘take control’ of their finances and ask Cartrefi Conwy for advice.
The campaign comes to life through messages displayed on a ‘fictional’ tenant’s phone, covering topics such as doorstep lending, rent arrears and eviction.
Branded materials included calling cards, vans, leaflets and a microsite offering support, advice and a budget calculator. Cartrefi Conwy has seen real impact in terms of arrears figures and the number of tenants accessing financial inclusion services.
Best Comms Newcomer – Michael Doucas, Cadwyn Housing Association (pictured above)
Michael Doucas came to Cadwyn in March 2016 as maternity cover and his main goal was to improve Cadwyn’s social media presence.
Using paid and organic campaigns on Facebook, Michael increased Cadwyn’s likes from 400 to over 1,000 as well as improving engagement rates. Michael also worked on developing the logo and branding for ‘Four Walls’, Cadwyn’s new online estate agency. It’s been a busy year!
Best In-House Comms Team – Bron Afon Community Housing
In the words of the winning team: “2016 was the year we put video at the front of our strategy. We are a team who has always focused on telling simple stories and we knew that as we produced more videos, our skills would improve.
With £0 budget, we had no choice. It was either pick up a camera, start filming and learn on the job or get left behind.
Research shows that adults in Torfaen have poor literacy skills, so we decided that video would be a great way to communicate. Our experiences from 2016 have set us up to keep filming in 2017!”