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BD Giving Notes – #22 ‘Centring myself – Finding a humane approach to communication in a rapidly changing world’

Behind every statistic we are trying to reach or advocate for is a real person with their lived experiences, dreams and their goals.

As I expressed towards the end of my last Note, one of the biggest things I was looking forward to in my communications role was my evolution. I was (and still am) excited to see how once I fully settle into my position and quiet the negative voices in my head, I will be able to help tell the fantastic story of BD Giving. I also want to help conceive and implement strategies that help positively impact how our brand is perceived, trusted and subsequently engaged by the various audiences we cater to. Most importantly, I want to help create lasting social change.

While the last nine weeks haven’t been without their challenges, teething problems if you may, it has mostly been about understanding and adapting to my job role. It has been about a thorough comprehension of the BD Giving brand and its brand communication guidelines, helping to create an additional set of communication guidelines, and developing some internal communications project proposals and strategies with Jack and Géraud; it has been exciting, interesting and intense. It has been about developing and polishing the tools I need to implement a variety of our comms-specific objectives e.g. developing a better guide and timeline for publishing our Newsletter, or our #BDGivingNote.

A key learning over the last few months has been understanding the dynamics of language in communications. Part of my onboarding included a comprehension of the audiences we engage with across the various social media platforms we use, and part of my job is to facilitate the growth of these audiences (organically). Pretty standard comms stuff.

One of the things I did was to rally the team into helping to clearly define some standard stuff like our personality and tone of voice. Louise and Géraud have been largely influential in shaping the tone and personality but as Louise was handing over to me, I needed to ensure that I could build on what they had developed.

By defining the personality of the BD Giving brand, we have evolved some of the languages of how we wanted to engage with our audiences. We want to be approachable, nuanced, neighbourly and knowledgeable.

As I began working within these new guidelines, I encountered a new set of challenges; How do you communicate effectively in this rapidly changing socio-political climate? Social media is saturated, and consistently cutting through the chatter online takes patience and brilliance. As I am fairly new to BD Giving, and BD Giving itself is a fairly new organisation, I need to figure out the best strategies for more growth and engagement across our digital platform regardless of the many successful projects we have embarked on. 

One of the other challenges I have identified is how to instinctively tap into the cultural zeitgeist without compromising brand values for engagement.

As I have come to realise, the world is at an inflection point where voices that have been othered and silenced are now being paid attention to; or at least they are more visibly fighting to be heard while another set of voices is determined to maintain the status quo. 

Brand trust is priceless in a world with changing definitions of language and social norms. Brand aims and objectives, now more than ever, have to align with people’s convictions before they pay attention to you. So, how do I communicate effectively without losing authenticity? In other words, how do I engage the diverse audiences of Barking and Dagenham without compromising our belief system?

These are some of the key questions I have. For now, my solution is “standing still and finding humanity in communications”. This is what I mean by ‘Centring myself’. Centring myself in our brand’s beliefs, objectives, and communications guidelines while understanding and acknowledging my convictions and biases has to be an intentional journey. Trusting myself enough to instinctively tap into the larger socio-cultural zeitgeist would help me develop better communications strategies for BD Giving.

A couple of incidents in my personal life helped me understand just how easily a person can find themselves a statistic. They helped me realise that behind every statistic we are trying to reach or advocate for is a real person, with their lived experiences, dreams and their goals. It truly humbled me in ways I don’t think I can begin to express.

Therefore, I believe that by centring myself, by being more empathetic, I will be able to engage in a more nuanced manner with various peoples and communities and tell their stories better. 

For now, I’m more focused on finding a balance. Listening. Understanding the shift in social discourse and helping to tell the wonderful stories of the impact of BD Giving and the people of Barking and Dagenham.

There are many such stories here, and I’m looking forward to helping tell even more of them.

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