The key to effective communication

15 Sep 22

Understanding what moves your audience and how to tailor your message to fit was the theme of Camargue’s presentation at the autumn GIRI members’ meeting. Camargue has been working with GIRI for around 18 months, helping to promote the ‘get it right’ message via strategic media engagement.

Presenters Jason Heffron, Jemima Pring, and Matthew Lloyd, each addressed a different aspect of communicating GIRI’s message, from highlighting best practice in shaping communications and spreading the word by aligning GIRI’s message with key news stories, to how GIRI members can help promote that message more widely within their own organisations and networks.

Jason Heffron invited audience members to turn to their neighbour and communicate in 30 seconds or less what they have done to eradicate error on a project and why it mattered. He then highlighted the two main considerations that affect the impact of this method of communication – who you are talking and why what you have to say should matter to them.

“You might be talking to a client, or a contractor, or even your finance director – the audience is critical when communicating about error. Take a step back. Think about what your focus on error reduction achieves or delivers for them. For example, it might help you to finalise a project quicker. It might make a building safer or improve its long-term quality. It might even help address the pervading impression of the industry as one that accepts mistakes as part of the process. In the short term, addressing error helps to fight back against this perception, and in the long term it helps build a better reputation for the wider construction industry.”

Jason went on to explain how GIRI’s message can be aligned with some of the recent headlines, including the cost-of-living crisis, signs of a potential downturn in construction, and net-zero targets. “If you can communicate the productivity and efficiency benefits that result from your zero-error strategy you can bring the benefits of addressing error to life and show how it is business-critical in the current environment… and how zero error is crucial if we are to deliver on time and progress towards sustainability targets.”

Jemima Pring then outlined the three key themes that have shaped GIRI’s media strategy in the last few months – productivity, sustainability and building safety – with examples of articles and roundtables that have helped raised the organisation’s profile. These included an opinion piece in Construction News with a simple message explaining how productivity can be improved by pursuing zero error, and GIRI director Cliff Smith’s participation in a Building roundtable about preparing for the Building Safety Bill.

Jemima highlighted the role GIRI members can play in helping disseminate GIRI’s message more widely, urging them to connect with GIRI on social media, particularly Linkedin, where all media coverage is posted. “Engage with GIRI’s posts because the more you engage, the more the message is spread to your network and the networks of your connections.”

She also urged delegates to think about who in their organisations might also need to see GIRI’s activity and how to use the principles of good communication to get the message across. Finally, she highlighted the value of feedback. “We have been talking today about the issues we think are important in the industry. There will be many more. So, please do feedback to us about the main issues in your company – about what keeps you awake at night – and help us to help you by keeping the conversation current.”

Before organising a re-run of the interactive exercise that opened the presentation, Matthew Lloyd underscored GIRI’s core communications challenge: how do you take a practical solution like error and turn it into an inspirational message for the rest of the sector? “This is not just about dealing with error. We need to say that this is something we want to be seen to be doing, that if we get it right it will pay dividends for our business, it will give us a culture of safety, and help us meet our net-zero targets. So, look out for opportunities to bring error into the conversation.”

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