@mattnavarrauk: “#SocialTV is the next big #socialmedia thing”

This is the 2nd in my series of Q&As – introducing Matt Navarra: an award-nominated, experienced communications and marketing professional specializing in Digital and Social Media.  Matt somehow juggles being a father to his two year old daughter, Livi, with being a husband to Bonnie, all on top of being the Digital Communications Manager for the UK Civil Service. Oh, and he somehow manages to run his own little blog as well!

In this Q&A, you will learn Matt’s thoughts on such things as “PR versus marketing versus social media” – it’s a highly interesting read from a talented comms professional.

Your CV has lots of interesting experience on there – what’s been the most rewarding role?

By far, the most rewarding role has to be my current one.  It has been an enjoyable challenge adapting my previously developed skills and experience in marketing and communications from the private sector, into a public sector setting.  There is something uniquely satisfying about delivering projects and campaigns for businesses, communities and individuals where the underlying agenda is not to create financial gain for shareholders or directors. 

As cheesy as it sounds, it was a refreshing change working with the aim of benefiting society as a whole, as opposed to spending all day squeezing out profit from customers. 

My current role has also led to working on some great projects working with organisations like the BBC, Cabinet Office and even No. 10.  It has also been exciting to be part of the rapid movement in UKGOV towards a ‘Digital by Default’ approach.  This is being led by the Government Digital Service (GDS), who are currently hard at work preparing the imminent launch of Gov.UK.

You’ve also worked on some successful campaigns, receiving some industry award nominations…?

I have been fortunate enough to be involved in a variety of campaigns over the years, and one of the most recent successes has been my involvement in an Independent Government Consultation.  I helped drive its digital communications strategy forwards, and developed the use of an official consultation blog, dedicated social media channels, and online content for the consultations micro site.  At its peak, the consultations’ hashtag was trending as the top item being talked about on Twitter in the UK.

It was one of the first UK Independent Government Consultations to adopt such an approach that provided transparency, an ability for stakeholders to engage throughout and relevant timely content which was updated frequently. 

This work led to us being nominated for two Industry Awards for Best use of Social Media in the Public Sector, and Best Citizen Engagement.  We were shortlisted, and although we did not win the awards, we polled ahead of some strong competition such as the Police, NHS, and Dept. for Work and Pensions.

Do you see social media, PR and marketing as separate disciplines, or are they blurred into one now?

When I studied at UWE in Bristol, Marketing and PR were always taught as distinct disciplines that shared common approaches or purposes.  The value and importance of integrated communications plans that used both PR and Marketing strategies (and channels) was always emphasized.  I think this is still the case today; with one big differen – the arrival of Social Media. 

This has provided the ability to create more complex and creative communications programs.  It has also provided communications planners and strategists a way to reach more people, more quickly.  At the same time, consumers have become ever more savvy and cynical when it comes to the marketing and PR they are exposed to.  Social Media has led to the rise of the Social Consumer who is more reliant on what their friends and colleagues think of products or services, than the perceived manufactured messages of the brands and their ad agencies. 

The integrated use of PR, Marketing and Social Media is increasingly more focused on delivering quality content for people to share and discuss, reachingonline brand “influencers” and ultimately creating “brand ambassadors”.  This is in part, why the rise in social influence analytics tools such as Klout, PeerIndex and Kred.ly, has been seen. Identifying these social lightning rods, and the creation a viral hit has become the key objective for the contemporary communications tsar.

From what you’re seeing, what will be the next big trend in social media?

One of the fast developing trends which will continue to grow in 2012 is the adoption of Social TV.  The likes of GetGlue and ZeeBox have (and continue) to develop partnerships with TV networks (BSKYB in the UK) and program makers across the globe, to enable viewers to interact and engage with one another, celebrities, TV channels and brands about the shows they enjoy and are watching. 

This is in part driven by the need for brands to find new ways to reach consumers and increase social word-of-mouth about their products or services, and the convergence of various evolving technologies such as On-Demand & Streaming TV, High Speed Internet, Smartphones and Apps, as well as Social Media platforms.

These new apps or tools will soon be built into set top boxes and integrated more seamlessly with all the popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter.  This will all lead to increased opportunities for viewers to interact with their favourite shows and share what they watch with friends, whilst at the same time providing valuable audience viewing data to TV channels, brands and program makers. 

These apps tap into the desire people have to chat with friends and family about what they are watching, as well as sharing related content they discover or create. The more engrossed and engaged a viewer is with a TV show, the higher the chance they will be receptive to strategically crafted marketing content that is intertwined in the TV show or Social TV app.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up – check your blog, check twitter, listen to the news, or make a cuppa?

My phones ‘notifications’ all the way!  Those pesky red numbers in circles are the enemy on my iPhone, They always lure me to my social media apps first thing to see what’s being said amongst my friends, followers and the rest of the world.  No use for a newspaper in the morning for me! 

This of course all relies on my daughter Livi not wanting my phone to play with her own Apps!.  She’s 2 and has her own Apps – how things have changed since i was a kid!

Footnote: Please note that Matt Navarra’s responses are his own and not representative of his current or previous employers.  Matt willingly provided his thoughts, with no payment or other financial incentives or gifts.


About Dan Purvis

PR, comms, digital / social media specialist and advisor.

While consistently balancing the need for sustainable, impactful campaigns that incorporate PR, social/digital media and external communications in the mix, I ensure that game-changing strategies are aligned to commercial goals and objectives. Passionate about social media, the value of digital properties and PR, I have a proven track record of successfully leading various PR-specific and multi-discipline marketing campaigns. Internal comms, crisis comms and stakeholder liaison is also a core strength of mine.


  1. Thanks for the blog post Dan. Your pages are looking great and hope my Q&A provides an interesting read to your followers.


    @MattNavarraUK (http://twitter.com/mattnavarrauk

  2. James Self says:

    Hi Matt – great to see a post from a fellow UWE grad and congrats on both job and family;it’s a tough juggling act sometimes!

    I think one of the things that strikes a chord with me most about this post is the challenge that some IT professionals face when trying to implement significant change in an environment such as the civil service which isn’t well-known for pro activity and embracing the latest technologies. What would you say has been your greatest hurdle in your role as DCM thus far?

    • Hi James. Thanks for the great comment(s).

      The hurdles faced by DCMs in UKGOV are usually ones of Access, Policy and Understanding (Interest).

      Access – Internal IT system restictions (firewalls) that limit staff ability to use social network sites and if access granted, having agreement/approval to use such sites for the benefit of the organisation.

      Policy – Getting agreement top down that a policy is needed to administer a digital strategy and to guide the organisation to success in the digital comms world + getting the right policy approved and commited to by all.

      Understanding – Having senior management/leadership teams that understand digital communications, having an interest in it and supporting its embedding across the whole organisation.

      The move from a broadcast channel to an engagement channel is also caused by a lack of understanding. This can lead to requests from poeple within organisations to use social media for campaigns, without appreciating the need to make it two-way and avoid pumping out news with no strategy or plans for how to handle comments and questions from followers.

      There are ways to reduce these challenges and to tackle them head on, + the occurance of such challenges are rapidly reducing as “digital by default” really kicks in across UKGOV. The enduring perceptions by some of the UK Civil Service not being pro-active/embracing new technology is no longer a fair one. There are some highly creative and innovative people orchestrating ‘Digital change’ in UKGOV. I think the next few years will bring about significant changes to the way it interacts with the public and the tools it uses to do so.

      Keep an eye out as these exciting processes spread and start delivering new products/services or channels for us all to use.


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