Earlier this month I blogged about the importance of speaking to customers and service users (Get out and listen). I am still doing that and finding it one of the most useful things I have done. But there has been another benefit to meeting people and that is to test my understanding of the organisation.
I haven’t always gone alone to these meetings and events. Local officers have been there to pick up local issues but sometimes I have been on my own and sometimes the questions have gone from local to organisational.
As communicators we aim to be problem solvers. We get presented with an issue, new product, new service or other situation and we plan to communicate. We think up key messages or a narrative and we outline the way forward. But how well do you know and understand the issue?
Insight is an essential part of the research and planning process. I know that in the pressured and resource stretched world we live in this can be a brief piece of work. But as I have been standing up in front of service users explaining the changes I have had a real test of my own investment in insight.
I am pleased to say I have been able to handle all the questions and provide an explanation when required. You may say after 16 years in the organisation that is only to be expected or that as a head of communications it is part of my role. On both you may be right.
It has made me wonder how many of the team would be able to do the same? When we are developing communication and campaigns do we know where it fits and could we stand up in front of people and explain it? We absolutely have to if we are going to be effective in what we do. So could you?