Communication - not just what but where

4iforum is probably the best kept secret in the development space right now. Like many businesses, communicating our message is our biggest challenge.  We are getting better at articulating who we are and what we do – in short we are here to help leaders think.  But the challenge isn’t just what we communicate. It’s not even who we should communicate to.  It is where we communicate that is the issue. There is so much noise, so many channels, so many places that people get information. Where do we pitch our tent?

Lockdown lunacy

The ‘where’ of communication has really struck me as someone who lives in Wales. At the beginning of the lockdown the communication message was simple and universal. Stay Home, Stay Safe, Protect the NHS.  Easy.  But as time went on the communication of lockdown measures in Wales got more confusing.  Whilst England had easing, we were still in full lockdown. A visit to West Kirby (which exceeded our 5 mile travel limit but was for medical purposes) was bewildering. In Wales “Stay Home” was still in force. In West Kirby everyone was acting like the pandemic was over. As England continued to open up, finding information about what the rules were in Wales became increasingly difficult to find.  Unlike Scotland, where Nicola Sturgeon’s briefings were broadcast by the national media, getting information that was specific to Wales was harder to locate.  Masks have only just, this week, become mandatory indoors in Wales, and even now there are differences in the meaning of “six” – which should be a simple message to communicate, but with all the ifs, buts and maybes ends up being really confusing. Don’t even get me started on local “restrictions”…

Trying to plan a birthday

It’s my daughter’s birthday at the beginning of October and we are planning a trip to ZipWorld Fforest.  Trying to work out how to adhere to the restrictions is melting my head.  There will be eight of us, but three will be UNDER 11, my daughter will (that day) be 11. I think we are okay to share cars (we are planning to go in two cars).  Once there we will split into two groups. My husband and I with the three under 11’s and one just 11 year old. My son and a friend being in another group doing the high zip adventure that I don’t have the legs for.  
All the activities are outdoors anyway, so I don’t think it matters – does it? For one of the adventures (the Skyride) the maximum number of people allowed at any one time is 5… so we have booked for two groups.  But does that mean we are mingling?  I think mingling is only a problem in England, but it might not matter because of the three under 11’s, making us a group of five?  If we choose to have lunch in the cafe we have been told we have to split into two groups of four.

It’s very confusing.

Which brings me back to the where of communication. This is the link to the Welsh Government Coronavirus information page. If anyone can tell me where on this website I can find a simple guide to tell me what I can and cannot do – “the rules” – then please enlighten me.

The best place I have found that simply communicates what is and is not allowed is the BBC Coronavirus update. But I’m not convinced it tells me everything I need to know… or should know.

So what does this all mean?

At 4iforum we are getting better at crafting our message. When we started out, trying to explain what dialogic forums are and the benefit they deliver did feel a bit like trying to explain what the COVID rules are.  People kind of got it – ish, but didn’t really understand. It’s hard to convince a busy leader to “give it go” and attend a forum – which by doing so will help them “get” the value of the dialogue when they don’t understand beforehand why thinking with others for 2 or 3 hours is a far more valuable use of their time than spending time solving pressing issues in their business.

Good marketing people (thank you Emma Easton) can help clarify your communication message. 

But the hard nut to crack is the where, because some things shouldn’t be kept a secret.  This is even more important when it is something that will really make a difference to someone’s life.

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