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The Full Glen Ocsko

Recently I made myself a full English breakfast. I’m not talking about a single rasher of bacon, a sausage, an egg and a ramekin of beans mind you; no, I’m talking about the full works. Fried eggs, bacon, sausages (two types), mushrooms, fried slice, grilled tomato, hash browns, toast, beans and black pudding. It looked and smelled incredible.

When I looked at it on the plate and prepared to tuck in I paused for a second. Would it live up to my expectations? At this stage it was a brilliant fry-up which should deliver on its promises to me; it had set high standards before bacon had ever touched lips; would it disappoint?

Suffice to say, it didn’t disappoint for a second. I devoured every scrap, and instantly started planning my next batch.

You can of course be forgiven at this point for asking what this has to do with anything at all. Well, several weeks ago I accepted an offer to join GovDelivery, a company I had known of for some time and followed from afar. I’d spoken with them at events, and heard stories from people who had worked with them about how they were doing really impressive things with the GovDelivery platform to help organisations better connect with and grow their audience.

Like my anticipation of that fry-up, a small voice whispered in my ear a range of questions and doubts. Surely people don’t like working with (or for) them that much? Surely the case studies they mentioned at conferences were the exception rather than the norm? Surely the numbers wouldn’t be that compelling?

Well; yes they do, no they’re not and yes they are respectively (and don’t call me Shirley). A few weeks in and I’m quickly finding out that GovDelivery, along with the platform and network which underpin it, are all I’d hoped they would be. And what’s more, there’s more to come.

Experience engaging different groups and communities

My own relevant background stretches back many years to when I took up my first job after leaving school. After some interesting retail sales roles I became a youth engagement worker, which quickly embedded a deep understanding of the need to engage with people and understand their drivers in order to help them to succeed, however they defined success. I spent years pushing young people to be the best possible versions of themselves, as well as working with organisations to give those young people the chance to stand up and have their say taken account of.

Over the years I moved into delivering this in local government, before transitioning into not just focussing on young people but on all sections of communities. I worked hard to help them identify their goals, develop their opinions and then get those opinions heard through events, focus groups, surveys, participatory budgeting and more. Some of this was face-to-face, though over the years more and more became digital.

Influencing local government

I also discovered at that time a love of writing, blogging in particular. Along with a friend, I founded the We Love Local Government blog, which quickly became one of the most influential voices in local government in the UK. To this day I can’t hear about an incident or an idea without mentally preparing a blog post on the subject. I spent countless hours researching new ideas and innovative approaches, leading to my final role within local government being to head up community engagement and innovation for a London borough council.

It is this mindset of curiosity which drives me still, and which has become a core part of my being. I love nothing more than hearing about new and exciting ways of getting things done, of challenging the status quo and of using new tools to achieve things hitherto unachievable. In particular, I track down any and all ways of engaging and communicating better with communities; something which puts my role here at GovDelivery right in my ideal wheelhouse.

The thing about government-citizen communication

You see, as far as I’m concerned it is absolutely vital that the two-way communication links between organisations and the citizens they serve are as strong as they can possibly be. When those communication strands break down, when people don’t feel as if they know what is going on nor that they can have their say; that is when dissatisfaction sets in and complaints begin.

People have a subconscious need to feel informed. At almost a primal level they want to know what is going on in their areas which will affect their lives. It is no surprise that those people who feel better informed also report significantly higher levels of satisfaction with their public services and bodies; even if they rarely engage, they know they can if they need to – and how to do it. They feel that their public services actually care about them, which is every bit as important as the fact that of course they really do. Perception is reality.

Now that I am part of the GovDelivery family I will be using my experience of local government which dates back to 2006, along with my experience of engagement which dates back to 1998, to help organisations bring the outstanding work they are doing to the people they are doing it for. I will be helping to build communications between services and people who perhaps never even knew that the services existed, and who may act very differently now that they know they do. I’ll be helping organisations deliver better messages to more people than ever before, helping them deliver positive behaviour changes, and helping those organisations save significant money in the process.

if I get half a chance, I’ll also be heading over to our GovDelivery headquarters in the United States and helping them appreciate the beauty of a properly cooked full English breakfast. I wonder what they will make of black pudding…

Glen joined GovDelivery as an Account Executive in September 2016 – we’re delighted to have him in our team!

If you’d like to speak to Glen about improving your organisation’s citizen engagement strategy, please get in touch.

Follow Glen on Twitter @GlenOcscko