After a day off to celebrate my [AGE NOT DISCLOSED] birthday last Friday, I’m back at it this week with some reflections on what has been a super-busy and fun week.
1. Remembering what’s important
This week, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about outcomes and impacts. You know; those things that us communications people need to focus on to make sure our creative work actually achieves something important.
I’ve been working with a fellow freelancer on a joint bid for a piece of work, and it’s been really good to scope some creative ideas and an engaging approach to meeting some key targets to deliver services better, and to improve how people receive care.
It’s great when there are clear human outcomes to meet in a project. For me, there’s nothing more motivating, and this is especially where I love thinking creatively.
But, there’s another reason why this has been on my mind this week.
As regular readers will know, I made a decision not so long ago to stop blathering on about my political opinions on Twitter. It was un-productive, and though I like to feel I was always respectful, I felt that doing so could be alienating to some people. So I’ve thought long and hard about this post before writing it.
But I’ll lay my cards on the table: I’m not a huge fan of Brexit. See my Twitter likes (“the coward’s retweet”) for details.
Brexit has, you might’ve seen, been in the news a lot last week.
I will spare you my views on the Common Agricultural Policy and the Irish Border backstop. My point is a broader one.
I’m not against Brexit because I get all misty-eyed when I hear Ode to Joy (though, to be fair, you have to say it’s a pretty good piece of music). I’m against it because I very strongly fear that it’ll make people’s lives worse in small ways and large.
I feel like this discussion is getting lost in all the detail about customs unions, Super-Canada +++, fishing sovereignty, reciprocal regulatory alignment and Donald Tusk’s sassy Instagram shade. The actual impact that this policy, this apparently inexorable direction for the country, will have on the lives of people is very rarely heard. And it feels like those in favour of it have almost stopped making the argument themselves…
Case in point. The #StandUp4Brexit “campaign”. I obviously don’t share the views of those involved in it; but of course respect their right to express them. But that’s not really the point; they’re not saying “stand up for people having good jobs” or “stand up for access to quality healthcare free at the point of access” or “stand up for equality of opportunity”. It’s seeing the policy, the mechanism (i.e. “Brexit”), as a goal as of itself. Note also the PM’s threat of “No Brexit at all” to her troublesome backbenchers this week.
It has become about preserving a sacred cow, come what may; no matter what the cost, no matter what the risks. Part of me finds it faintly amusing. Part of me finds it incredibly disturbing.
This is relevant because it’s about outcomes and really understanding what’s important to people.
As communicators, we forget this at our peril. When we’re told to “just get on with” something, it’s important for us to challenge, and really understand what the ultimate goals are and how they improve the lives of our customers, patients, students, service users etc.
We’ve all been half way through an expensive vanity project, dressed up as a comms campaign, having our doubts that what we’re doing is really worthwhile. A lot of time and money has already been spent on it, but it just isn’t working, because the goals are ill-defined, and there’s no common sense of what “good” looks like.
When this happens, I think it’s hugely important to stop, and have the confidence to challenge our leaders and ask:
“Why are we doing this again?”.
You might see a parallel to our current state of British politics in this situation. I couldn’t possibly comment…
2. A blur of locations, opportunities and new projects!
It has been an incredibly busy week.
I’ve been on a full-day video shoot up in beautiful East Lancashire, recording and editing a podcast for a client, scoping a new project opportunity with a good friend and colleague on the stunning Wirral coast, and received some really exciting news that a new project is about to start next week, with another one scheduled for January.
It has been a bit of a blur, and there have been some late nights involved; but it’s very much the type of week I dreamed of when I started Grey Fox.
All the work I’m doing or hope to be doing is about helping organisations to improve people’s lives, either directly or by trialing innovative new ways of delivering services.
I’m proud to be playing my small part - and so grateful that I have a job that is so fulfilling, fun, and worthwhile.
3. Our awesome health professionals
Through my work with a client in Greater Manchester I’ve been doing some video and podcast work with some absolutely inspirational front-line healthcare professionals.
We hear a lot about how amazing front-line professionals working in the NHS are.
But spending some time with some practitioners working in new creative ways to make things better for their patients has really been awe inspiring. Everyone I’ve interviewed or met works in difficult often emotional circumstances. But their positivity and their passion for the jobs is a joy to behold.
People who choose to spend their careers working long hours and doing difficult work to care for others really are the best of us.
4. Blog post of the week
Technically this is blog post of last week, but it’s really excellent so worth repeating.
How knowing who you are can make you a better comms professional by Jude Tipper is a fantastic read; and is hosted by the ever excellent comms2point0.co.uk.
In the post, Jude talks about her values as a comms leader and challenges us all to think about what our drivers are.
But the premise is a simple but really important one: by understanding how to articulate your own values and what makes you, you : you’ll communicate more confidently on behalf of yourself and your organisation.
5. Final week for UnAwards voting!
There’s still time to vote for my blog post Provocation, responsibility and relevance - the problem with lush & #spycops as the Best Guest Post on comms2point0.co.uk
There are some brilliant posts on there, so I would be really appreciative if you’d consider lending me your vote.
Last week I had the great privilege of judging in the UnAwards 2018. It’s been wonderful to see the categories I was involved in being shortlisted. There are some wonderful examples of creativity and impact in there that really deserve to be shared more widely.
Win or not, I can’t wait to meet the people responsible at the UnAwards event in Birmingham on 7th December.
But in the meantime, please vote now!