How do you make a dry subject more interesting?

browningyork Browning York News, Engagement, General communication, Public sector, University

Why Who What When HowThis week I will be speaking about procurement communication at the LUPC & SUPC Conference 2018. I do a lot of work with procurement teams, helping them find ways to engage their internal audiences with the need for compliant action. The teams are lovely, hard-working experts in their field who are striving to do their best for their organisation every day – but by their own admission, their subject matter isn’t at the top of anyone’s must read list.

And yet, the increased efficiency, value for money, improved customer service and out and out cost savings that their work delivers can make a huge difference to the whole institution’s success. The need for more efficient purchasing in organisations such as the NHS comes up regularly in the news, with talk of spending budgets in a coherent, joined up way that saves money, avoids waste and allows more funding to be directed to patient care. This is a big deal and applies to any large organisation. Yet, getting people to take notice within the organisation – and, more to the point, getting them to change their behaviours – is tough.

Procurement isn’t the only area within a business that suffers in this way. Health and Safety is another one. A few years ago I came across an award-winning H&S video for Tesco staff, which featured the intrepid cartoon character, Kill Spill. Tesco realised that they needed to do something about the huge number of accidents in their stores caused by people slipping or tripping. They created a video to get 5 key points across to staff in a quick, humorous and memorable way. And it worked. Watch the video and you’ll never look at the humble grape in the same way again!

My lovely procurement teams and I haven’t totally solved this tricky conundrum yet, but we’re working on it. Here are a few pointers if you’re facing a similar challenge:
• Identify the business need or problem that the dry subject solves.
• Communicate that business need in a way that everyone can relate to – give them a reason to care.
• Identify a few key messages that everyone needs to know and articulate them as simply as possible.
• Use colour, stories and human interest to make the content come to life.
• Look for opportunities to link your communications to other business areas that traditionally generate more interest.

Have you had success communicating a dry subject? What has worked for you? I’d love to hear all about it.

If you’ve got a dry subject you’d like help to communicate, get in touch for a chat.

Until next time
Sarah