Tag: #development

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

It is not common enough; the Chief Executive of a company apologises, and apologises in a way that seems genuine. Nowadays, how often does this happen in the corporate and political worlds? Aggressive business leaders, and overly-confident politicians appear to be the common currency. So, here it is again, the Uber CEO apology, http://bit.ly/2htTKTP . Aside from the important debate over Uber’s ways of operating, from a crisis communications perspective this is effective. It’s about admitting fault and taking responsibility. These seem to be major hurdles for corporates amid a crisis. Ok, so it’s not clear what exactly the CEO is apologising for, but at least it is a sign of some humility and a good start as Uber unfurls its crisis communication plan.

Hurricane challenges emergency aid

The appalling devastation in the wake of Hurricane Irma poses stern tests for the emergency aid and development sector. Will emergency organisations, many of whom say they aid recovery and rebuilding after natural disasters, be able to meet the likely demand? Too many people’s lives and livelihoods have been torn apart by this immense hurricane. The need for a swift recovery once Irma has passed is, of course, paramount.

Challenges and questions are already emerging. Owing to the proximity of the Caribbean to the US, as well as Florida now bearing the brunt of the hurricane, we can anticipate forensic media examination of how well emergency and recovery organisations perform. It’s always a challenge for such organisations to listen to what communities say, to deliver to scale, speedily, for rebuilding/reconstruction and to fend off the predictable complaints that too little help arrived and it arrived too late. Emergency and recovery/rebuilding organisations, usually in the development sector although never underestimate the importance of the military to make things happen, can expect stories in weeks and months to come when the media ‘truth-check’ what was promised and what assistance has actually been delivered. Now, we pray for the safety and well-being of everyone affected by this massive hurricane. More tough challenges posed by Hurricane Irma await.

Showcase return on investments

It’s about demonstrating a return on investments. Nowadays, everyone is potentially a journalist. Mobile phones enable us to film what’s happening before us and record decent sound (if you know what you’re doing). This is a blessing and a curse. For the development sector, it’s terrific. It means showing your results, of ‘aid in action’, improving lives of the more vulnerable has never been easier. The costs of gathering multimedia content have been drastically reduced. This is especially helpful for smaller non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who sometimes believe it is harder for them to cut through when they are competing in a crowded campaigning space alongside much larger organisations. It all means smaller NGOs can more easily punch above their weight, especially if their programmes are community-focussed, which is not always the case for larger organisations, including the UN sector. So, showcase results of ‘aid in action’, of when aid is making an impact and improving the lives of the more vulnerable. Interestingly, more and more journalists in diverse media markets are calling for exactly this; proof of aid working. No longer are they wowed by large donations in the development sector. The first question is often: “Can you take me to a community where I can interview those who are benefitting from these large donations?”.  It’s all about demonstrating a return on investments.

Muscle memory

It was fascinating to analyse a #MelindaGates interview on BBC Radio with public health advocates on our  recent ’20secondsmedia’ media training & public speaking course in Amsterdam. Among the many elements that became abundantly clear in her performance was the power of muscle memory. She had, of course, worked hard overtime to remember key messages. Hence, during a challenging series of exchanges with the interviewer,  who tried on many occasions to induce her to criticise D Trump and the Pope, she never wavered. She kept bridging back into her key messages and hammered them home. It was a performance that drew heavily on instinct; those key messages about child mortality absorbed in her muscle memory. It shows that effective, polished public speaking, like high-level musical and sports performance, is the work of many years of hard work. You drill, and drill, techniques and allow them to seep into the memory. Even if your mind goes blank, the muscle memory will rarely let you down.