Valuable Content Award for Alan at the Environment Agency – a lifeline social media feed


This month’s Valuable Content Award goes to one very special person at the Environment Agency, Alan Atkin aka AlanBarrier. As Britain faced a winter of flooding, Alan’s tweets made an extremely difficult time that bit easier.

This month’s Valuable Content Award goes to one very special person at the Environment Agency, Alan Atkin aka

It’s an award sparked by a personal story – Sonja’s mum and dad are two of the thousands of people in the UK struggling with the rising water. They live on a flooded island in the middle of the Thames. It’s hard to get on and off the island now. All their possessions are piled up on tables and they watch and wait as the water comes closer and closer up the steps to their door.

Alan’s tweets are making an extremely difficult time that bit easier, and we think that deserves recognition.

Flooding Thames

Control of water on the lower Thames relies heavily on the lifting and lowering of the Thames Barrier, which can help to hold back any tidal surge that makes the water rise further. Alan works for the Forecasting and Response team at the Thames barrier and every single shift he has been diligently updating residents upstream on barrier closures, answering their questions, responding to their concerns, gently letting them know what’s happening, and pointing them to the right content on the EA website.

Valuable Content Award for Alan Barrier

It is immensely reassuring for worried residents listening to weather reports and watching the rising water to see that there are real people working hard to protect them as best they can.

The point of valuable content and social media is to help those you are in business to serve. Great customer service is ingrained in the valuable approach, and social media is part of the way you communicate, naturally. Alan’s tweets are a shining example of helpful, valuable content in action.

Breaking down the corporate façade and putting your PEOPLE in touch with your customers is a brave and powerful approach. Many organisations don’t trust their staff to be ‘let loose’ on social media. We see this Environment Agency Twitter feed as a rare and welcome example of management stepping back and getting out of the way so the experts in the business can do what they do best – help customers.

Sonja’s parents aren’t natural social media types (she’s pretty sure they think Facebook is the devil’s work!) Before the floods they’d never been on Twitter. But they’ve found it a huge support. They are so grateful to Alan and his tweets.

Sonja’s mum says:

“Alan’s tweets are absolute life support for our island. Just brilliant. We look forward to his shift starting every day and we miss him when he’s not there! He has given the Environment Agency a human face, the personal touch. It’s such a massive corporation but it’s so good to see there are real people hard at work who genuinely care. We’re facing a terrible situation, but Alan is making it a little easier.’

Award for Alan at the EA

The Environment Agency has been given a lot of stick recently but Alan’s example shows that their people are working extremely hard to protect communities as best they can.

So we’d just like to say a huge ‘thank you’ and ‘congratulations’ to Alan and the Environment Agency team. We think your efforts need recognition so your Valuable Content award badge is on its way.

Our thoughts are with all those who are affected by this terrible weather. We so hope it stops soon!

What can YOU take from this?

There are obviously lessons for other organisations and businesses here.

  1. Trust your people – your experts – to talk to customers on social media unhindered
  2. Train and encourage them to make a real connection and just be their natural expert, helpful selves.
  3. Put them in contact. And get out of the way. This matters.

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P.S. Alan’s award badge arrived on his birthday! Well deserved.

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