Friday 10 February 2012

Get Lansley off the TV

Every time Andrew Lansley appears on television I'm sure I hear a collective groan from supporters of the Government's health reforms as yet another voter, Doctor or nurse becomes opposed to the policy. The health secretary is possibly the most knowledgeable politician to hold that post in the history of the NHS. This is the problem.

It has been suggested that the health reforms have been badly handled and poorly communicated , from  a communications perspective I'd agree. It is a classic case of someone being too close to the minutiae of an organisation, meaning they find it difficult to make their story relevant to those they are trying to communicate to.

This is a common problem with lots of businesses - particularly if in pharmaceutical or high tech industries - as their spokespeople spend their days talking in jargon or about systems which are impenetrable to the average man or woman. I've trained lots of people to tell a story, making what they are doing relevant, to communicate their message rather than merely describing in detail the processes which, although ultimately important, are of no consequence to their target audience.

The UNISON NHS campaign has used NHS staff at the front line to tell their story of why the proposed reforms are wrong. It is a simple tactic but very effective. They use language people understand as well as being much more like the average voter than many politicians.

If this Bill is to go through I'd suggest the Government take Andrew Lansley off the TV. If however, the health secretary is to continue to argue in public for these reforms he must abide by these rules:

1. Don't use jargon;
2. Use compelling language to bring life to your argument;
3. Use REAL WORLD examples to make what you are saying relevant to viewers or listeners at home;
4. If on TV use a backdrop which helps to tell your story, no more bookcases please;
5. Think about your delivery. If these reforms are so essential let voters know that is the case through your choice of words but also how you are saying them.

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