The world is going through a difficult time right now, so on a rainy Tuesday evening, we got together with some of the best minds in comms for the third instalment of our Modern Day Wisdom series, to talk about what we can all do to make a positive difference and help change society for the better. Speaking were Tom Bage, Head of Marketing and Communications at bio-bean, Paul Cottam, Head of Editorial and Content at Sport England, Naomi Hicks, Head of Activations and Engagement at WWF UK and Sam Strudwick, Head of Communications at Amnesty International – all hosted by our wonderful Alex Lyons. Here are six talking points that stood out:
You can’t change all of the world’s problems at once
Don’t let this get you down; have the courage to keep working for what you believe in with the knowledge that people can achieve great things when you give them the trust and opportunity to do so. Focus, and take rules with a pinch of salt: don’t always let an accepted way of doing things stop you from doing what you think is right, or will work.
Certainties change, fast
There’s a widespread lack of trust in our institutions right now – the news, politics, finance – so it’s easy to feel down when comms is often tarred with the ‘fake news’ brush. But it’s amazing how quickly certainties change – in a fast moving world where people have access to more media than ever before, it’s all to play for. With good storytelling, good technology and a good sense of instinct, we can overturn accepted realities quickly, and for the better.
Talk to people as… people
The death of the corporate voice has arrived. ‘Brand vanity’ holds organisations back and is counter-productive: if organisations want to be effective in making a positive difference to people’s lives, then they’ve got to build trust with them and talk to them as human beings. This requires a real cultural shift. Have confidence in your brand and really nail your tone of voice.
Celebrate the positives
We tend to dwell on ‘bad news’ to the extent that lots of people are unaware of all the good work that’s happening out there. Positive progress can often seem disconnected to our experiences on a day-to-day basis. There’s plenty of positive change to achieve – particularly within conservation – so let’s make more effort to remind people of the causes for hope and what people and organisations are doing to make the world a better place.
Be ready to move quickly
With society moving at a frenetic pace, established organisations have to be quick and agile to stay relevant to their supporters, customers and/or users. You’ve got to be ready to change tactics very quickly to keep up with the platforms people use and how they communicate. Giving people autonomy to make decisions and be confident to know what you stand for – in charities and the public sector this is a key challenge. More than ever, progressive organisations should also be thinking of ways to promote dialogue and engagement, rather than just ‘messages.’
There’s more appetite for change than ever
While the economic and political uncertainty of recent months has been unsettling, it’s also fired people up in a way that hasn’t been seen before. The panel agreed that now, more than ever, people are motivated to go and do something to fight for the issues and causes they care about. This is an opportunity for organisations to engage, enthuse and inspire people with positive values, to act as a force for long lasting change in society.