Strategies for how we frame things have always fascinated me. How do we frame our projects to appeal to the right audience? Who is the right audience, and how do we reach them? How can we measure success?
Most of us are really passionate about our work. Whether it’s youth work, social or environmental change stuff, creativity or organisational development – there’s always a common thread – how do we engage, motivate and inspire our target audiences?
Niki Harré is a senior psychology professor at Auckland University – she’s just released a new book called ‘Psychology for a Better World‘. There’s a link to a great 25-minute radio interview with Niki by Kim Hill on Radio NZ National. It talks about the power of positive role modeling – which sounds pretty straight forward right?!
Too often we focus on the negative – the bad things – the things we’re trying to ‘stop’. This cripples people and it’s not motivating. As communicators and as leaders, the challenge is how do we flip that? How do we focus on showcasing the positive? Celebrating the good? How do we frame something that people can aspire to? How do we create conversations about possibility? Of course we should explore the issues – the bad stuff – but the public interface, the hook – the invitation for engagement needs to be positive. Who doesn’t want to feel great? Who doesn’t want to get involved and contribute to something awesome?
Another important consideration is contact. How can your audience reach you? Learn more? Get inspired? Let’s take our upcoming Festival for the Future – for us, we know a large chunk of our target audience live online. With good strategy, web content is infinitely scalable – so whilst our tiny full-time team of two can only actually talk with maybe 50 people a week, our website reaches hundreds – sometimes thousands a week, globally. With Google Analytics, the cool thing is we can see exactly where they’re coming from, how long they spend on our site and the exact path they take to navigate their way through the content – amazing!
Where do people access you online? No doubt you’ve got social media set ups – but what’s the motivation? What’s in it for your audience? Is there a need for people to go to your website too? Why? Where do they land when they reach it? If there was just one goal, one call to action on each page – what would it be? With good strategy and design, and really useful tools like Google Analytics we can easily track traffic flows on our websites – this is really useful for benchmarking and measuring whether things are really happening the way we hoped.
Good communication is also about consistency – the digital, and the physical. If we’ve got a great hook, and an inspiring and well communicated proposition, does the content stack up? How can the ‘thing’ meet, and ideally exceed people’s expectations? What are the pleasant surprises to give it that little extra something? In the business world this is called ‘adding value’. For us, the recipe for designing the Festival programme is about getting great people around you. Finding brilliant people and weaving them in. Any project can do this – and every project should. There’s a beautiful maori proverb that goes:
“Ka patai mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao? Maaku e kii atu: He tangata, he tangata, he tangata”
~ “You ask me what is the greatest thing in the world? I will say: It is people, it is people, it is people.”
Get great people around you, and great people will get involved.