Big Society to launch… for the sixth time

Posted on 03/01/2012


Big Society launches are now more common than those for space shuttles

A challenge which often comes down from Ministers to communications professionals in the public sector is how to get a policy which has already been announced some more public attention.

Generally you could pull it off a couple of times.

But, undeterred by continuing defections, the Big Society is rumoured to be gearing up for a SIXTH re-launch.

Now, in addition to my criticisms of the five previous Big Society launches, I’d add a sixth piece of advice:

1 – Ditch the jargon

2 – Simplify the message

3 – Unify your followers

4 – Be clear on your call to action

5 – Identify barriers to take up – and break them down using communications

6 – Join up your communications

There are worrying signs that as the various parts of the Big Society mix are developing, they are doing lots of un-joined up communications.

I take on board David Wilcox‘s suggestions that Big Society is a more a policy framework than a brand so fragmentation should be welcomed, but the public don’t do policy frameworks, they do tangible services, products and ideas.

I also know my advice to social enterprises is to go their own way. And I stand by that.

But this makes the challenge facing those working on the Big Society relaunch even more profound – and even more vital to attempt to join up communications. As well as mapping what partners are planning – and working with them to maximise these opportunities – Cabinet Office should look to be more prescriptive in messaging and encourage joined up communications among directly government-backed initiatives.

And as an immediate first step, plans for a National Citizenship Service film to be produced should be halted until a clear strategy for distribution as part of a wider Big Society communications strategy has been agreed.