I RECALL IT vividly. I sat in front of a communications team for a very large government agency. My own team sat by my side; excited, proud of their work.
We had just submitted nearly two years-worth of media work on behalf of the agency, documenting their successes in some very inaccessible locations.
They continued – “We love your team’s video and photography work. You all did an excellent job.”
It sounded promising.
There it is, I thought to myself.
“But … We won’t be able to use your work, after all. We’ve taken a different direction.”
I wanted to scream – “BUT YOU DEVELOPED THIS SCOPE. YOU GAVE US THE BUDGET. YOU REFUSED TO MAKE THE APPROPRIATE ADJUSTMENTS ALONG THE WAY; EVEN AFTER WE’VE BEEN RAISING THESE ISSUES AND PROPOSING ALTERNATIVES FOR THE LAST SIX MONTHS…”
It was tempting, but we had explained it plainly so many times before. It was over. Everybody in the room knew it.
Our team of six – a mix of media production and journalist types – disbanded a few months later. Our work sat on the proverbial shelf.
The sting of seeing your team’s dedication easily disregarded was frustrating, to be sure. But I don’t blame the agency for their decisions. After all, it’s a tough world out there. Working in unstable countries where large amounts of money are involved has a unique way of instilling some very hard lessons.
In fact, I appreciated that learning process.
As we closed out that project, I had never been more convinced that the intuitive concept was worthy of further development. It reaffirmed in my mind that we – as an industry – haven’t fully utilized the vast potential of strategic communications in the development setting.
I later came across some notes scratched on a crumpled sheet of paper from that meeting – Perhaps there is a different way to approach development communications. I smiled.
This is the context in which we present the intuitive blog.
The blog is written for development professionals – in all countries, across all sectors – who have the same belief: that strategic communications should be playing a greater role in how we talk about our work, even if it’s not always so clear how.
If you’re expecting articles like “9 Ways to Improve Organizational Communications,” the intuitive blog may be of little interest. These articles have their place, but they tend to continue reinforcing the idea that strategic communications is strictly a technical exercise; that an organization simply needs to learn the ‘math’ and apply it to their work. But in strategic communications 1 + 1 rarely equals 2. Effective communications isn’t always as clean as it is on paper. How many well-executed, donor-approved success stories ring generic and uninteresting; the overlooked bi-product of a monthly report?
Acknowledging that communications is a messy affair, our goal is for the reader to walk away from an intuitive post with more questions than answers. The writing attempts to appeal to readers who enjoy the grey areas; of not fully understanding a concept, but wanting to learn more, however painful that process may be.
We want this for selfish reasons – because it’s what we seek for ourselves.
Through our own writing, it makes us think about strategic communications in ways that may make us feel inadequate. The process is a sober reminder that we haven’t figured it out, after all. We’re left with many unanswered questions too, which in turn motivates us to continue exploring and writing. We believe this is a meaningful approach to conceptually understanding our work and the world around us. We hope you do as well.
Thanks for reading.