How to make joined-up working work well: a nifty idea

how to create successful partnershipsOne thing I love about being a public affairs professional is talking to loads of different people and picking up inspiring success stories; then sharing them.

Looking back on 2013, The Homework Club – set up by Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) and The Abbey School struck me as a nifty idea THAT WORKS. It began in October 2012 and:

  • Supports children and young people (7 to 18) from refugee families from neighbouring schools to do their English, Maths and Science homework.
  • It runs between October and April – twice a week – Tuesday and Wednesday between 4pm and 5.15pm.
  • It has room for 45 children/young people
  • Most attend twice a week.
  • RRSG select the children and young people who need help with their homework.
  • The project co-ordinator at The Abbey School selects the “tutors” from their upper and lower sixth form.
  • Abbey teachers supervise the sessions with RRSG representatives on hand.

RRSG’s story: “What prompted us to work with The Abbey School was that we were getting a lot of parents coming to the centre saying they’d needed some help for their children with their school work. They didn’t have the reading and writing skills. As well as improving educational performance amongst children of refugees and asylum seekers, we wanted to expand their career and higher education aspirations; increase their self-esteem and confidence; and engage refugee parents with their childrens’ learning. (Nina Lugor, Casework Manager, RRSG)

 The school’s story: “What prompted us to work with RRSG a few years ago was that I recognised that our girls’ general knowledge about the world could be a little better; and that there was a lot of negative refugee press stories going around at the time. Initially RRSG accompanied a refugee to tell his story. It was very powerful for all of us. We extended the relationship with RRSG to assembly talks; and Refugee Week activities. We thought the homework club would be mutually beneficial and it was. The student tutors got a kick out of making a difference, seeing someone learn. It also helped them with their personal statements for university; and the International Baccalaureate (IB). The home work club is a cheap, easy and practical way of making a difference. The model could easily be transferred to other schools, perhaps one day a week with one school staff member co-ordinating it. There’s no cost involved apart form the staff time (which three of us gladly volunteer). For me, I’m particularly glad at the success the homework club has had in promoting community cohesion and raising awareness of global issues.” (Julia Turkington, Director of Enrichment & Head of English and History, The Abbey School).

If you haven’t chosen your Christmas or local charity yet, please do donate to RRSG which does some fabulous work by visiting local giving. 

If you’ve enjoyed this post, then please do add a comment; drop me a line at sofija@creativepublicaffairs.com; give us a call/text me on 07966 369579. I’d love to hear about your success stories working with secondary schools.  Seize the day!

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10 questions to ask before setting up a small business

how to set up a successful small businessA friend recently asked me for some advice on setting up a small business from scratch. Let’s call her April. She had a few ideas; and simply needed someone to help her frame her thoughts. In a bid to make her life – and yours – a little easier I cobbled together 10 questions to help steer April to shore.

Telling your personal story

1        How did you get to where you are now?

2        What’s inspiring you to go in this new direction?

3        What values and beliefs are important to you (and what you want to offer people)?

4        What have been your key successes so far?

Telling people what you’re offering – the benefits

5        Imagine you’re in a non-work situation and someone asks you what you do for a living, how would you describe your (fledgling) business?

6        What benefit(s) are you giving to your clients that your competitors aren’t?

7        One of your dreams has come true: you have a room full of hand-picked clients, who would they be?

Getting into the digital mind-set – finish off these sentences

 8    People know me because I know about . . . .

9     People like me because I have these values and beliefs . . .

10   People follow me because I can help people . . .

Some useful things to do if you’re thinking of setting up a new venture.

Attend one of Daniel Priestley’s strategy workshops. Very helpful!

Take a peek at The Rooted Guide and Penny Power’s book Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me. Full of inspiration and creative thinking.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. I’d love to hear your ideas about what you’d like me to write about. Perhaps there’s a burning communication, campaign or lobbying issue that you’d like a bit of help on? Or perhaps you’d like to share one of your public relations successes? Please do drop me a line at sofija@creativepublicaffairs.com or @businesses4good. Happy Days!

How to create powerful key messages

how to create powerful key messagesKey messages capture the essence of something that you want to communicate. They’re bits of information that people/organisations want their target audiences to know. They articulate what you do, what you believe in and how your work benefits people’s lives, the planet. . .

Here’s a couple of key messages to chew on:

“The melting Arctic is under threat from oil drilling, industrial fishing and conflict. You can Save The Arctic.” Greenpeace 

“Speaking openly about our mental health is an essential element in breaking down the stigma surrounding it.” Rethink 

Key messages are normally sprinkled into communications – website pages, newspaper articles, press releases, presentations, media interviews, MP meetings etc.

When creating strong key messages for your public affairs and media work remember the 10 steps:

  1. Short and simple – no more than a couple of sentences.
  2. Easy to understand.
  3. Conversational and is easy to say aloud.
  4. Jargon and acronym free.
  5. Has emotional punch.
  6. Captures the spirit of what you want to achieve.
  7. Uses a tone that will connect with your audience.
  8. Expresses your brand.
  9. Focuses on one broad idea.
  10. Is easy for people to remember.

So time to get out there. As Amelia Earhart once said: “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” 

If you liked this blog then you might find these helpful too:

Key message development 

How to make your key messages interesting 

Good luck with your messaging. If you need any help just give us a call on 07966 369579 or contact me @businesses4 good or sofija@ creative public affairs.

When maybe means no

maybe2“What do they mean?” How many times have you been asked this question by a friend who needs to get a handle on what someone’s trying to say to them? Part of what I do is helping people read in between the lines. People who have crossed continents or have a disability that impacts on their “inter-personal” communication skills and in turn their business.

Putting it in a nutshell, the bit of information they usually need when they ask me this question – even though they don’t know it yet (because you can’t possibly know what you don’t know) – is: the person you’re communicating with is an indirect communicator. The e-mails are confusing you because you’re a direct communicator. You take words at face value. To you maybe means maybe. To the indirect communicator maybe generally means no. Indirect communicators don’t want to say no directly because that can lead to embarrassment and conflict.  Honesty is important to them as is harmony. Like any skill communicating in a non-direct style can be learnt.

If you want to know more about

The impact of direct and indirect communication

Whether you’re a direct or indirect communicator?

A future post will follow shortly on how to become a better indirect communicator. If you have any thoughts or ideas on this, I’d love to hear from you. Please do add a comment and perhaps I’ll use it in a future post.