A social media campaign where residents make the content – hats off!

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#HatsoffNewport on ITV News

Everyone was talking last year about how Ice Bucket Challenge was a clever and new way for charities to get support.

I’ve been working on a social media campaign this month for Newport City Homes, a housing association where I live.  

It aims to use the principles of Ice Bucket Challenge and No Make Up Selfie to get a people in one small city talking about the wonderful people in their communities .

Essentially it’s a social media campaign where residents make the content and people participate because people in their personal networks asked them to.

It’s very early days (a week and a half in) – who knows if it’s a success or not yet as we’re nowhere near putting into place the evaluation planned for February. However, I thought I’d share the story so far – why do it, what it’s about and how it’s all coming together.

Hatsoffnewport collage

But first: what is it?


It seems to me that most people don’t want to talk about Newport City Homes (or any organisation), they want to talk about their lives, and that’s what we wanted to enable. So this is a local campaign about and by the people of Newport.

We encourage people to post videos on Facebook and Twitter, nominating the kindest person they know in Newport.

The person films him or herself wearing a hat, they say who they think is the kindest person in Newport and then they ‘take their hat off to them’.

They then post their video to their Facebook profile and/or Twitter profile and they nominate three other people to make their own video.

So it’s like a chain reaction of stories about the nice things we do for each other in Newport.

For example, here are a few:

Search for #HatsOffNewport on Twitter and Facebook to see what’s going on.


After we wrote the strategy and put up the blog describing the concept, I just posted my own and we asked some of the key influencers in Newport to post theirs.

Some people are shy and it takes big confidence in an idea to be the first out there. So it started out quietly last weekend and gradually it’s catching on.

I cannot say I wasn’t biting my nails these past two weeks! But it seems to be gaining traction – hooray!

But what’s in it for Newport City Homes?

A general objective for the campaign is to promote pride in Newport’s communities, encouraging positive debate and giving attention to voices that aren’t ‘the usual suspects’.

Newport City Homes asked for a campaign that was in line with its values so it’s got as much of a flavour of them as we could add.

One of the main aims of the 2020 vision for Newport City Homes is ‘Putting residents at the heart of what we do’. So the campaign needed to reflect this and we achieved it by allowing people to tell their stories in their own way, in their spaces online.

We’re collecting these stories on our blog, and we see it as a way of showing our affection for Newport and supporting the voice of residents.

It’s a small step toward building long-lasting relationships with Newport City Homes’s online communities and start conversations with residents, partners and media.

It also helps with a general issue that in the city, people often mistake or misunderstand the organisation as being a council department when in fact it is an independent registered social landlord.  The campaign may well increase awareness of the organisation, though we didn’t allocate a budget to measure brand recognition before or after so it’s not something we included as a factor in our evaluation plan.

This weekend, the South Wales Argus and Wales Online covered the story too, hopefully helping more people to read how they can join in.

Hats Off

Anyway – I’ll blog a case study with the full story and lessons learned in more detail about this once the campaign has had a chance to play out a bit longer.

However – already I want to say a few thank you to a few people.

  • When I pitched this idea to Jess, the hugely talented Communications Manager at Newport City Homes, it would been easy (sensible maybe!) for her to dismiss it as it doesn’t fit the traditional communications mould. We thrashed out the risks and decided the potential outweighed the manageable dangers. So thanks Jess Roberts for ‘getting it’, getting buy-in within the organisation and making this happen. The excellent brief you set was about listening to the people in the community, which I really admire, and working with you is a delight.
  • Kevin Ward – a local newspaper editor who gets digital, and promotes a challenging but positive narrative in the city of Newport.
  • First followers: Roger Hiscott (my personal #hatsoffnewport nomination), Ryan Hiscott, John Burns, Chris EvansJulie Nicholas – the ultimate early adopters who first posted videos and made this ‘lone nut’ idea into a movement.
  • Jonathan Conway at Newport City Homes – the best darned community engagement professional I’ve met. 

Thank you and I take my hat off to you all!
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2 thoughts on “A social media campaign where residents make the content – hats off!

  1. Thanks to you too Helen. As always, it’s an absolute delight to work with you. This campaign says so much about Newport and the amazing things that are happening here. Like every city, there are negative stories that do the rounds and it’s really easy to let those stories dominate. We’re not okay with that. Newport has too much to offer.
    Jess Roberts

  2. hats off to The George Street Bridge I knew I was in Newport when I got to the bridge

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