Friday, 23 September 2011

People are people.

I listen to lots of interviews. It's what I do. I listen to interviews with civic dignitaries, local councils, regional government  parliamentarians and everything else. They all make the same mistake to varying degrees; they talk about information and not people.

I said in my last post that there was no room for 'stakeholders' in interviews and that is completely true. There has to be room for people. Yes I know that they are the same thing (more or less) but a stakeholder doesn't get dyspeptic after eating too much cheese a person does, a stakeholder isn't worried about their monthly budget but a person is, a stakeholder won't invite you to their house warming party... you get the idea? It's far from being a question of semantics it's a question of attitude.

Until the politician talks in terms of people they won't be able to bridge the gap between information and emotion. We may understand that the macro economic outlook is gloomy and that understanding will engender an emotion but what we need is a transmition of emotion that is one step sooner.

Valerie Geller Author & Guru
A number of years ago I was trained by Valerie Geller.

Ms Geller was one of a number of American consultants brought over to try and sort out what was wrong with BBC Radio. I personally didn't think there was too much wrong with BBC Radio... other than journalists being forced to be presenters with no training (after all it's only talking between the news bulletins, which are the important bit, it's not as if it matters)... I digress.

Ms Geller was flavour of the month and now, in the BBC, she's treated like Trotsky in the Stalin regime. Which is very wrong. Part of what she taught me was the power of 'you'. Her doctrine was that radio is personal and the listener is engaged in a powerful mutually beneficial relationship with the broadcaster; to engage them you need to start with 'you'. It's something that I took on whole heartedly and have used ever since to great effect. It's about 'you' not 'us'. It's about the personal experience not the group experience and this is how politicians at all levels need to think to be affective.

Going back to the economic outlook. There has been a lot of statements made talking about 'we'; 'We're all in it together' being one of the more striking ones*. The Government are trying to engender some sort of faux blitz spirit so that we'll all pull together for the greater good. Those days are long gone, we now live in a tribal environment that means that we have more in common with our Facebook friends than our neighbours. This throws up the difficulty of mobilising the hearts and minds; all you need to do is follow the simple rule of 'It's not about us, it's about YOU' then it gets personal and important.

*have they seen 'Brazil'? Terry Gilliam's classic has the line from the government of the day "Happiness; we're all in it together!" and that's set in a utopia isn't it?

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