ESPO Award 2019 shortlisted projects: Dublin Port Company

06 November 2019

The ESPO Award 2019 will go to the port authority that has developed a successful strategy to reach out to the local community and is succeeding in directly communicating with the port citizens. Using social media as a new way of communicating and demonstrating a high level of transparency about operational achievements, future strategies and environmental challenges and performance is becoming increasingly important for European ports who can only function and further develop if they receive the licence to operate from the local citizens. 

The four projects that are shortlisted for this year’s Award are the projects of Port of Dover, Dublin Port Company, Ports of Stockholm, and Union des Ports de France (UPF). 

ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects before the winner is announced during the official Award Ceremony at the Albert Hall in Brussels on 13 November 2019.

Dublin Port Company

The Port of Dublin creates online maritime community 

ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2019! Could you briefly describe your project?

Dublin Port Company (DPC) has maintained a digital presence since 2001 via its corporate website; however social media was a communications space not entered before. DPC recognised social media as the perfect channel to educate the citizens of Dublin and local communities on its daily activities, culminating in the creation of Dublin Port’s social media strategy in 2013, with its main goal to set about integrating Dublin Port with Dublin City.

Social media allows ports to build closer relationships with their local community. Online users now expect organisations to respond and engage with them directly, making them feel more important and that their voice is heard.

DPC utilises all the main social media channels creating an integrated communications framework. Facebook has proved to be an important Business to Community tool, while Twitter was established to improve Business to Business communications with customers and stakeholders. Content on these channels highlight projects and events and communicate key operational information on traffic, arrivals, departures and notice to mariners.

ESPO: How does your project contribute to improving your relationship with the port citizens and does it succeed in directly reaching out to the local community?

Dublin Port Company has been highly committed to its digital media strategy since its launch, believing in its benefit for both the local community and the advancement of the operational capacity of the port. Dublin Port’s social media channels are a forum for open discussion with port users, citizens of Dublin and staff. It is evident that the public awareness of Port operations has improved through a strong social media presence. Ports have extremely interesting and varied stories to tell and Dublin Port’s online maritime community is intrigued to learn about and engage with these stories.

We create linkages between the Port, the local community groups and port citizens by including in our monthly content calendar’s information on local maritime events; boat and yacht club regattas, Port heritage events, employment opportunities, notices to mariners, ship arrivals, Masterplan updates and CSR initiatives. We take a rounded, integrated approach to our content, ensuring that all in our online maritime community are included and informed, resulting in a greater user experience.

ESPO: Could you describe the original and innovative character of your project?

The originality of Dublin Port’s project was to set about integrating Dublin Port with Dublin City by educating the citizens of Dublin and local communities on port operations through social media.  DPC’s social media strategy has evolved to be more integrated; content types have developed from originally only sharing port images to now utilising video content and info graphics regularly creating a higher reach. 

Focusing on video content, studies have shown there can be an increase of up to 300% on inbound links when social posts contain video content. Dublin Port increased a significant portion of its digital media budget for investment on video and media production. This has enabled Dublin Port to capture a unique insight into real port stories covering a wide range of themes including its rich maritime history, operations and staff perspectives, allowing citizens to experience what really happens day to day, offering a distinct perception of port operations.

ESPO: Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2019?

Dublin Port Company would use the Award to further promote the Port in a positive way, with citizens and all stakeholders. The Award will give staff a sense of pride in their Port and their City, giving them an incentive to come up with inventive ideas to further integrate the Port with the City. 

ESPO: Do you measure or assess the impact that your project has made on improving the transparency towards the local community and the understanding of port activity and added value? Could you tell us more? 

Dublin Port Company regularly assesses the impact of their project. Quarterly reports are conducted to measure the analytical data associated with DPC’s presence on social media and is critical to monitoring effectiveness of the content on its various platforms and identifying KPI’s. In 2016 Dublin Port commissioned an online survey to measure the effectiveness of its social media strategy. The survey results identified DPC had achieved the objective of their strategy to better integrate Dublin Port and Dublin City via social media. Overall benefits achieved have been increased brand awareness, positive word of mouth and a higher level of staff and public engagement.

The feedback section of the survey revealed hugely positive feedback; surprisingly no negative comments were given. This feedback proved to be valuable information to DPC management allowing them to make improvements to its social media strategy. 

There was a noted change in people’s behaviour online by 2016, with many using a variety of platforms; as a result ports need to spread their activities across many channels. To ensure DPC could continue to engage with citizens of Dublin city and the local community it launched on YouTube and Instagram in 2016 and LinkedIn in 2018

“As Dublin Port evolves, so must our communication channels. Social media is an important accessible platform to enable continued integration with the city and its citizens, maintaining our invaluable connection with Dublin City.”

Charlie Murphy, Communications Manager at Dublin Port Company

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