Our brilliant Comms team had their Away Day this week. Here they are.
We discussed ten questions that we think matter to any diplomatic comms effort.
1. Who do we want to communicate with (NB, not ‘at’), and what do they say about us when we’re not there?
2. Who is our competition (not just other embassies), and what are they doing better?
3. Where are the digital natives going next, and are we there (without being uncles dancing at a wedding)? Let’s not turn up to fight the last battle, or with a bow and arrow at a gunfight.
4. What’s our big defining message? What’s the impression people get when they drive past the equivalent of our billboard every day for a year?
5. And yet how do we – occasionally – stop the traffic? What’s the brave idea that wins not just our organisation’s comms award, but the comms industry’s comms award?
6. Are we the hub for communicating our entire country brand? Or just sending out stuff from our government or department?
7. Do the accountant, advisor, administrator and Ambassador all know our big message (and feel licensed to communicate it in their own way)? When Kennedy asked the cleaner at NASA what his job was, he said ‘putting a man on the moon’.
8. Have we digitalised all our networks in a way that allows us not just to transmit, but to engage, co-create and genuinely influence? Or are our best networks still in our heads, blackberry contacts or roller decks?
9. Who are our allies? Given that most people are more likely to listen to other people than an institution, who are our multipliers and amplifiers?
10. Are we making enough mistakes and picking the right arguments? Are we equipped to respond fast when people pick them with us? Diplomacy should not always be diplomatic.
A former head of the British Army used to say that we need more ‘Combat Ambassadors’. We don’t yet have all the answers to these questions, let alone the known and unknown unknowns. But we hope that they will help us deliver a comms plan that makes Brits more secure by backing Lebanese stability.