You are here

Watch your words - Three reasons to prioritise communications post-2015

commentary1_4.jpg

Watch your words - Three reasons to prioritise communications post-2015

"Words are about more than just their definitions – they create feelings and appeal to emotions. The way we present ourselves is important and can make or break the sector’s reputation."

The 2030 agenda for sustainable development outcome document mentions information and communications technology several times, and announces the launch of a new “technology facilitation mechanism” which includes an online platform. The reasons outlined – to promote social justice messages, foster partnerships and build capacity – get to the heart of why online platforms such as sportanddev.org exist to service their communities.

With the international community about to embark on implementing measures to reach the 17 new goals, now is a good time for sport and development organisations to think – individually and collectively – about how they present themselves. Here are three reasons to make online communications a priority.

1) Share knowledge and reach a wider audience
It is a sign of the times that social media was credited with having a role in the Arab Spring, and the message of campaigns, such as "Refugees Welcome" in German football stadiums, can reach a wider audience through Twitter. At the same time, online platforms like sportanddev.org facilitate discussion and enable individuals and organisations to share what they’re doing in a way that was impossible just 20 years ago.

Intelligent knowledge sharing can improve programme implementation and therefore play a role in efforts to reach development goals. As global internet use continues to increase, so will the ability to promote inclusiveness, enabling wider participation and the potential for people to shape and contribute to conversations that affect them. The internet can engage different opinions, involve young people in the discussion and reach a global audience.

2) Language matters
The use of words can make headlines. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is among those recently criticised for using dehumanising language to describe people trying to enter European countries from the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere. This conversation forms the backdrop for Al Jazeera’s decision to stop using the word “migrants” to refer to people crossing the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, NGOs are sometimes accused of reinforcing negative stereotypes of Africa for fundraising purposes and the sport and development sector of “sports evangelism”. Words are about more than just their definitions – they create feelings and appeal to emotions. The way we present ourselves is important and can make or break the sector’s reputation.

3) Communications affect perceptions of an organisation’s effectiveness
Communications are the tool through which an organisation creates its image. The organisations who generate the most positive reactions – winning awards, featuring in the mainstream media and appearing at conferences – are often those who communicate what they’re doing in an attractive way, backed up by an effective communications strategy and a range of media types. The ones with the best communications are often perceived as having the most effective work.

Focusing on communications requires thought but doesn’t have to be expensive. Begin with the basics: create a strategy, develop an in-house style guide to ensure branding consistency and make use of cost-effective tools such as sportanddev.org, social media and free video editing software.

About

Article type

News

Author

Paul Hunt

Published

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - 10:00