Complicated subject? FAQ it.

I always think that a lot of knowledge management is all about asking questions and finding answers. Simple as that.

For example many of the questions that the Press office deal with are in effect FAQs that they answer in a short time, often the same question, or a variant as each report is published. However these can be somewhat emphemeral questions or points of clarification.

But what if you have a big subject, that is a bit complex that you know people will keep coming back to – especially a wide external audience?

This is where a well crafted set of FAQs can be your ‘killer app’.

This is what has been done twice to great effect by the teams dealing with the ‘Taxpayer support for banks’ and the Whole of Government Accounts (WGA).

If you have not seen these FAQs on the NAO website its worth taking a look.

As a minimum you should admire the great FAQ format created by Rob Skilling.

Taxpayer support for banks


So how do you know that these FAQs work?

Well shortly after the FAQs for the banks were created there was an article in the Guardian that referenced them; and of course we can see the stats on people viewing them.

So if you have not thought about creating FAQs why not give it some thought?

You could be saving yourself, or another contact point in your the NAO, some repetitive work.


Its is also worth see this great post on FAQs by Stefan AKA the Public Strategist.

Chatham House rules and Twitter

I was at a meeting recently where someone from Chatham House was present.

I was tempted to say ‘Chatham House rules’ in the manner of ‘I’m sorry I haven’t a clue’ and shouting ‘Mornington Crescent’.

Which leads on to my lesson for today.

As you probably know I monitor Twitter every day for mentions on the NAO. I noticed yesterday a mention of a colleague and what they were purported to have had said.

I was not aware that they were at a conference so I made a screenshot of the comments and sent them to the relevant person for their information.

The response was ‘oh I thought it was a private conversation’ but no harm done – or similar words.

It is easy to forget these days that someone can be easily filming a conversation on a phone or tweeting.

It is perfectly legitimate to say at an event that the whole thing is not for Twitter – though this can be seen as overkill and is not very transparent or engaging which hopefully the NAO wants to be.

More typically if you are in a workshop or seminar and you want to mention something slightly critical or controversial you can comfortably say ‘please do not tweet this’. I have done it myself and will do it again.

Generally people understand what this means and do not have a problem. If they do not understand the group present will probably correct them if they transgress.

Of course the best route is not to mention anything you might regret being ‘re-published’ in any format. It’s the old ‘common sense’ rule.

Developing the NAO twitter account @NAOorguk, redux

I wrote this time last year about my basic principles of how to grow the NAO Twitter account.

Since then things have moved on a lot.

When I wrote the account had about 2,000 followers, now it has 20,000.

So am I doing anything differently? Yes and no.

I am still following the principle of proactively pushing the account by following people who tend to mention the NAO, particularly influencers.

Also it is key to follow people who retweet, favourite NAO tweets or add the NAO to their lists.

It has been noticeable that as the name of the NAO account gets in wider circulation how more often it gets referenced.

In addition its always nice to thank people for particular mentions, regular retweets or positive feedback.

Equally you must answer enquiries quickly.

Favouriting ourselves nice mentions of the NAO is always a good thing  as it retweeting praise for the NAO work, with some clearly defined parameters. We should not be blowing our own trumpet willy nilly. So if someone on Twitter likes something we have posted on Pinterest the chances are that we will retweet it as this helps highlight the value of the item that has been pinned.

We are getting to the stage now where we need to invest set amount of time per week into the account as it is one of our major communications channels. Particularly having clearer procedures for dealing with the interactions which are becoming a regular feature.

So this is where we are at the moment. What next?

We have a good base but it is only really a starting point. Despite what is said about numbers not being everything I still want more followers, 50,000 sounds good to me.

But we also need to look more at qualatitive metrics, focus on interactions with influencers, get more internal colleagues to contribute – it’s a long list.