Ok it’s me again the common sense communications consultant who used to be marketing consultant but since many public sector organizations are forbidden to use the M word we will continue to use common sense communications which is code for marketing but don’t tell anyone as I don’t want my secret to get out.
Today I want to discuss something I will call solutions based marketing … whoops solution based common sense communications. One of the things I have noticed over the years is sometimes we use a sledge hammer to kill a fly rather than a fly swatter, For example , we are so programmed to use conventional communications tactics like the web and publications and other forms of communications etc. that we sometimes forget that the solution to the communications problem may be as simple as getting out of your office and talking to people. ( yes public servant communicators actually communicating face to face with real people which has become out of fashion these days. (Even in cases when governments have exhibit programs and trade shows they tend to send students or very junior staff. I guess they are too busy doing whatever )
For example a few years ago I was asked by a public health nurse who worked in a small community (her job was to run public education programs for new mothers) how she can best communicate information to new mothers on parenting and raising a young infant. She was about to go the route of developing brochures , posters, radio ads, fact sheets and looking at working with the local community newspaper etc.
During our conversation I asked her how many new births were there in her community on a weekly basis?. She told me that she thought there was about 6 or 7 . Next I asked her how far her office was from the local hospital? She told me that it was a 5 minute walk. I then lowered the boom… I asked her had she ever considered getting out of the office and visiting the maternity ward of this local hospital and giving education sessions to these new mothers,( i.e. face to face marketing). It never occurred to her to do that after all she was the public education coordinator and her job was to develop public education campaigns. It would never occur to her that the best thing she can do is go to the hospital and actually talk to these women and potentially their significant other.
We as marketers and communicators are no longer solution based as common sense is no longer a required skill set. Today we look for people who have skills in communications, if we are lucky they may have marketing skills. In the world of new media and sophisticated marketing and communication techniques we sometimes forget that the solution to a communications problem may be as simple as talking to people.
Another example was a health group (nutritionists) I was involved with ,who felt it was their job in their respective communities to produce and deliver “educational material ‘… I guess their view was I am a health educator and my job is to produce stuff. I asked if they had ever given any thought to visiting the local supermarkets and give “nutrition tours ” to people living in their communities, some said they had considered it but they had no time, presumably because they busy producing stuff that probably nobody reads. The idea of actually talking to real people was not on “their menu.” Also their superiors were expecting “real deliverables” and talking to real people at a supermarket … well that is not a communication deliverable. It might be the right thing to do from a common sense communications solution based strategy but since when did that count for anything.
So my point here is that we need to be more practical. We have to stop and ask ourselves does the world really need another brochure , poster, web site or in many cases an ad campaign. Are we solution based or do we react and provide the solutions that are expected of us because we think it is our job to produce stuff.
In the world of public relations are we not better off giving the media and key stakeholders a verbal briefing via phone, video conference or face to face rather then sending out that constant flow of media releases that never “see the light of day” Should we not be more STRATEGIC and less TACTICAL.
Let me know what you think.