I was lucky enough to attend a CIPR Cymru Rise & Shine! Event in Cardiff recently. It was hosted in the fabulous Big Moose Coffee Co, an admirable social enterprise, whose purpose is to raise money for homeless and disadvantaged people. A fitting setting for a talk about an initiative designed to spread some happiness.
Vicky Spencer-Francis from Cowshed and Gareth Davies from BBC Wales presented an engaging account of Welsh Happiness Day, which sparked some great ideas for any external or internal communications campaign.
Make Wales Happy
The idea to inspire the people of Wales to share some happiness sprang from discussions in the BBC about how to appropriately raise issues connected to mental health. Vicky and the Cowshed team took up the challenge of helping to Make Wales Happy and led an online and social media campaign. In just one day, 23 January 2018, the message reached 451 million people around the world.
Vicky and her team shared their top tips for creating a successful ‘day’ and these are the ones I found really helpful.
1. You need a hook
During the previous year, the Office for National Statistics issued the outcome of a survey that revealed Wales to be one of the unhappiest nations in the world. Fearing another similar outcome in 2018 and bearing in mind January is generally accepted as a more ‘blue’ month than others, it seemed like ideal time to get people interested in how to make themselves, and others, happier. The context and timing made an ideal hook.
2. Make it credible
The ‘day’ was blessed with the credibility of having been inspired by work done by BBC Wales, but it was important it had an independent identity. To make sure it got plenty of support, the team worked with a range of trusted organisations, including locally-based charities and large companies.
3. Have a good plan but keep it flexible
A ‘toolkit’ of key messages and suggestions was prepared, but the emphasis was on people expressing their own, authentic view of what made them happy.
4. Relationships matter
Although most of the action around the day was planned to take place online, Vicky stressed that a vital component of success was the relationships her team built with all involved. Picking up the phone and meeting up face to face were the most effective ways to engage with key people inside organisations, maintaining enthusiasm and focus through the planning stage.
5. Keep it simple
Key to the success of Welsh Happiness Day was its simplicity – one day and one request: do something which makes you, or the people around you, happy.
6. Have a good hashtag
The team had to demonstrate pragmatic flexibility when it became obvious during the day that a hashtag which emerged organically was outperforming the original hashtag. They switched to the popular one and watched it spread!
7. Smash it early in the morning
Great tip here to work hard on sharing content and messaging about the day first thing in the morning. This focus on getting it off to a good start in the early part of the day meant it was almost running itself by mid-afternoon.
An internal communications perspective
It was great to hear that one of the factors influencing the success of Welsh Happiness Day was the action of local Internal Communicators. Many of the organisations involved in the planning stage were already keen to support employee wellbeing initiatives, so their Communications and Human Resources leaders were ready to encourage employees to get involved. Colleagues started to tweet about the things their team mates did that made them happy. The authenticity of this individual perspective gave the day plenty of supportive, real voices. It also shared the fun side of life in companies and institutions, from the inside out.
I think all of the tips I picked up work well for an internal event or campaign, particularly if you’re lucky enough to have an intranet or internal social media. For example:
- Identifying trusted influencers and bringing them into the planning stage of a campaign helps with establishing credibility;
- Building a toolkit with guidance and key messages about your initiative, while allowing flexibility, enables employees to show how it fits with their role, or works for their team;
- Working hard to generate good content early on in the life of an initiative, then encouraging people to share and discuss it, helps bring it to life.
A survey carried out after Welsh Happiness Day indicated that almost quarter of the population of Wales were aware of the day. The twitter campaign was amplified by X Factor; Iceland Foods (who encouraged their customers across the UK to buy Welsh cakes!); the Scottish Premier League and a sports site in the US with over two million followers. A truly impressive achievement for the first year of Welsh Happiness Day.
I’m looking forward to seeing how far the happiness spreads in 2019.