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Journalist rallies businesses to back campaign with social media innovation

David WalshA daily journalist used business networking website LinkedIn to gain support from his patch’s commercial community for a campaign.

David Walsh, left, business editor at Sheffield daily The Star, launched a petition on the site to press for local politicians to sign up to a £900m devolution deal.

More than 100 business people, including four Chambers of Commerce, ‘signed’ the petition by liking a post by David on LinkedIn.

The results were then emailed to the four council leaders involved in the proposed deal, who are due to meet today to discuss its fate, with the names of those in support also published as a story in The Star.

David told HTFP: “The majority of business people in Sheffield believe devolution and a metro mayor is a way to increase prosperity.

“But there have been signs at least two council leaders with a crucial vote are at best lukewarm – although they have never agreed to be interviewed.

“Responding to concerns they might scupper the deal, I wanted to show the strength of support from the private sector.”

He added: “I felt by using my contacts and putting in a bit of work I could represent the feelings of the business community on a vital issue.”