Steph founded Helpful in 2010 after leaving the Civil Service, where he was Head of Digital Communications at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. His team earned a reputation across and beyond Government for pioneering approaches to online consultation, work with online communities and social media monitoring, often based on the open source WordPress platform.
In its early years, Helpful and its partners built up a wide base of clients looking to achieve similar results, including the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Government Digital Service and Department of Health. Projects included online commenting on major government reports, social media skills training for the Government Communication Service, and full-service website design and management work for policy-focussed organisations such as the Local Government Information Unit.
Steph also hosted events aimed at digital practitioners, and is treasurer and a former organiser of UKGovCamp, which brings together over 200 people interested in the public sector’s use of digital. He launched the Digital Engagement Guide, a free, live collection of ideas, examples and practical help to use digital and social media in the public sector.
In the wake of major events such as the 2008 Mumbai attacks and 2011 UK riots which demonstrated the power of social media in crisis situations, Steph developed Social Simulator, an immersive, realistic environment to help teams rehearse their crisis plans behind closed doors. The team has subsequently run hundreds of exercises worldwide, including supporting Exercise Strong Tower in London simulating the impact of marauding firearms attack. Other clients include major oil and gas firms, government agencies, automotive and aviation clients.
Previously, Steph worked agency-side for Soho-based digital agency Reading Room; in strategic communications the Central Office of Information; and as a researcher at Ipsos-MORI.