Communicating with others | Te whakawhitiwhiti ki ētahi atu
From the start of your transition process, you need to think about how you will communicate about it with people both inside and outside the process – especially those that will be affected by it.
Having strategies for effective communication is critical for your transition. Communication is not just pushing out messages about what you’re doing. If you do it well, communication builds support and gets people involved.
It is important to communicate both within and beyond the group that is already involved in the process. There can be a lot of people on the periphery who could support your work – or actively oppose it. You need to reach these people.
When shaping a communications strategy, think broadly about all the groups of people who might be affected by or interested in the work you are doing. How can you get these people involved? Think about barriers to communication such as time, language, culture, access to technology or disability.
Sending information outward through things like newsletters and social media can cultivate supporters, while inviting outside information through things like surveys and calls for submissions can help more people feel heard and invested in the outcomes. Dialogue can build deeper understanding and more meaningful relationships beyond what is achieved through the simple exchange of information.
Here are some first steps in communication:
- Identify the audiences that you would like to reach and think about what they would like to know.
- Identify the people in your group who have communication skills and time available.
- Plan for the time and resources that will be required.
- Consider what other organisations might be interested to partner with you for communications.
- Think about the communication channels that you have available, for example:
- Social media
- Public events
- Iwi and marae groups
- Schools and other educational providers
- Local and national newspapers, radio and television
- Business and government channels
Build a narrative that resonates and spreads
If you’ve been following the steps in this guide, you will have spent a lot of time identifying principles, building visions and pathways, and exploring the values underlying your work. This offers a strong foundation for shaping the overall story of what you are trying to achieve and communicating it effectively to others.
There are many resources available to help you create narratives to bring about positive change in society. Research has shown that narratives that speak to people's values can help to change their minds and reduce conflict.
You can test narratives with focus groups representing your target audiences so they can be refined and potential problems avoided before they are released to the public.
You can access resources and training in using narratives for social change through:
The Workshop(external link) — theworkshop.org.nz
Yale Program on Climate Communication(external link) — climatecommunication.yale.edu
Climate Access(external link) — climateaccess.org
Plan ahead for dealing with bad press and opposition
Despite your intentions, your just transition process may attract negative attention among the community and media. As part of your communications strategy, you should identify potential communications risks, mitigation measures and response strategies.
Decide in advance who will have the authority to speak on behalf of the group and how key messages for the public will be created and agreed upon.
Consider the motivations of the people who have criticised your project. If they are acting in good faith and their criticisms are warranted, take them on board and address them. If they have reached conclusions based on incorrect information, help them understand the facts. You could even invite constructive critics into your process. You may learn from each other and get a stronger outcome.
Sometimes opponents will provide misinformation and criticisms in bad faith to further their own aims. If you think this is happening, stick to the narrative you have developed and continue to communicate what is good about your process and your vision for the future. Consider the best ways to constructively counter your opponents’ messages if there is a risk they could undermine your success in persuading the undecided.