2013 – a review of my year…

My boss wrote me a powerful message in her Christmas card to me this year: “be proud of what you’ve achieved this year”. December was a hard month for me, but that quote set me thinking. In the light of all the “reviews of the year” that are inevitable at this time of year, I wanted to do my own review of the work I was involved in during 2013. Yes it is a bit self indulgent, but it is my way of remembering how far I have come this year:

January 2013

I seem to be pretty good at writing weather related tweets! (see also IceIceSurrey from 2012). This example was a group effort, but I did the design, came up with the concept and helped with the words – so I am proud of it!

February 2013

I had the idea of turning the Surrey Police wanted on warrant page into a dating website called “Uinformdating.co.uk” for Valentines day.

The webpage has been reverted to normal now, but you can read how we promoted itwhat Twitter users thought about it and what the Guide to Surrey made of it. One of my colleagues then live-tweeted during the final episode in the series of “Take Me Out” – so I did a quick PhotoShop job to launch her tweeting:

March 2013

I love using social media to get across a message in an entertaining fashion, but it is important that we don’t lose sight of the role of the organisation. In the case of Surrey Police, we are there (amongst other things) to solve crime.

One of my colleagues had the genius idea of tweeting “as it happened” a cash in transit robbery, and I supported her in putting the campaign together. We called it a Tweconstruction, and it was very well received on Twitter – it was even awarded the “campaign of the week” (Social Slurp) from Blue Claw Media.

April 2013

I went to the (and my) 2nd BlueLightCamp – the unconference for people who work for the emergency services. I feel I contributed a lot and, although I can’t talk about it too much yet, we are further developing an idea I developed while attending the event. You might also like to see some of the ideas I submitted to the Blue Light Hackathon Simpl Challenge.

May 2013

May the fourth to be exact…

I’d seen vadering as a meme on Twitter and suggested we do it, my boss agreed – on the condition we wait until the fourth of May… We were retweeted by Elizabeth Banks (she was in the hunger games) and the official Star Wars twitter accounts. It also fulfilled one of my ambitions – we made it onto Mashable!

Then, about four days later, another ambition was fulfilled when IceIceSurrey made it onto the front page of Buzzfeed (37 Things You’ll Only Find Funny If You’re British)

June 2013

Another weather tweet (told you I was good at them!):

I live tweeted the Chief Constables award ceremony. I’d done live tweeting before, but trying to add photos into the mix was a challenge!

July 2013

Another weather related tweet…this time I took advantage of the roof being controversially closed at Wimbledon to remind people to keep their windows shut to avoid burglars.

There was a new arrival to celebrate – and it seemed like “Easel” was going to be the next big social network!


August 2013

August saw our own “new arrival”. My wife gave birth to our second son, so I took some paternity leave, and some annual leave, and spent most of the month not even thinking about work! One cute little thing I did do though, was a “create a placename” matrix.

September 2013

September was BUSY! We tried a different way of doing social media at work. Instead of everyone in the communications team doing it, all the ideas went through a single social media hub consisting of me and a colleague (different colleague each day). We wanted to see if the system was any better, and it gave me valuable experience of coaching others in creating good social media content. I made it to Buzzfeed again (in our own right this time) with another rapped tweet about the weather. This time it was heavy rain, taking inspiration from the Fresh Prince:

We used social media to help find a vulnerable missing teenager who had run away into London. She was found 11 days after she went missing, as a direct result of the huge amount publicity generated (by us and the public) through social media. All the Surrey Police content has been taken down, to try and restore her privacy, but you can read about what we did (it included another tweconstruction) in Corporate Comms magazine. I was also asked to speak at an event organised by the Virgin group during Social Media week. The session focused on how brands could use “being human” to better serve customers through social media. There was even a video…

October 2013

One of the things I wanted to do more of with the social media hub was jumping on the back of spontaneous events – so when a Facebook problem stopped users posting status updates I seized my chance!

The #GiveaThiefGrief hashtag was something I was particularly proud of – as I didn’t come up with it! One of my colleagues was really struggling to find a hashtag for his campaign, so I suggested he look in a rhyming dictionary. He did, and came up with that belter! We reached 30,000 followers on Twitter, so I created a PhotoMosaic to celebrate.

You can find out how I made it in this blog post.

It was also National Anti-Slavery day, so I put together a series of images to raise awareness.

October is famous for Halloween – one of the busiest days in the police calendar. To encourage youngsters to act a bit more responsibly I came up with a reworking of “What does the cop say” by Ylvis:

I wrote the lyrics, and the local radio station recorded them and got the usage rights for the backing track sorted out. We originally wanted to film our own version of the video, but it would have taken too much time and money, and the lip synching would have been a nightmare. Instead, we bought some artwork I found on iStockPhoto (I had to edit some of it in Illustrator), and used wideo (an Argentinian website) to create the film.

That unlocked another achievement – I made it to Reddit! (actually IceIceSurrey had previously made it to Reddit – but I wasn’t aware of how amazing Reddit is at the time).

November 2013

My biggest (sorta) #FAIL of the year was personally tweeting about the new John Lewis Christmas advert, on the day it premiered on Youtube. Basically, John Lewis (retail store) didn’t grab the twitter handles for the JohnLewisBear and JohnLewisHare quickly enough – they were squatted (the squatters later got kicked off and the handles that John Lewis had grabbed – JohnLewis_Hare and JohnLewis_Bear were renamed). I tweeted about these shenanigans using the username @JohnLewis (which the world and his wife now knows to be a very patient university professor in Virginia, USA).


Check out the number of retweets he got for that – mostly because of Buzzfeed articles like this, and this (biggest SM fails of 2013…oops!)

BUT although I may have #Failed (a little bit) personally, professionally there was a huge piece of recognition:

We won a Social Buzz award for best use of Twitter! Just look who we were up against.

Then my flabber was well and truly ghasted when we went and won the Grand Prix award as well!

That was AMAZING! The best feeling of the whole year (well, neck and neck with holding my new son).
There were photos…


There was a video (which yours truly appears in slightly drunk at the end)…

and then a big feature article in The Drum magazine…http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/12/17/case-study-surrey-polices-award-winning-twitter-feed

December 2013

December was an odd month for me. I did some social media stuff I was proud of:


We used Flixel for the first time (to raise awareness of purse pinching)

and I did a cute flowchart with a colleague

But the thing I was most proud of in December was our “Have yourself a Wary Little Christmas” campaign. This was the first full campaign where we took all the design work in-house. This meant designing billboards and other collateral on a scale I had never done before (basically I am pretty much self taught design-wise and have rarely done anything over A3 before). The strapline was something I thought up, and the design work was all me, working to a brief from a super-talented colleague who did the campaign manager stuff. It was a good way to end the year seeing my work, stuck up for all the world to see, outside Woking railway station:
Wary Little Christmas poster IMG_2114

So that was my year. The thing I realised while writing this post is how lucky I am in my job. I am surrounded by a team that inspires me every single day, I am supported by a manager (and her manager, and the line all the way up to the Chief Constable) who understands what I am about, let me have my “out there” ideas and put them into practice. I am hugely grateful for that freedom and support.

1 thought on “2013 – a review of my year…”

  1. Great blog Andrew. You should post a link up on the NPWMG Facebook group. I think a few of your tweets may have been mentioned today on the Jeremy Vine show – may be worth a listen on iPlayer. It was the half hour before the end of the show. Happy New Year 🙂

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