OUR D E R SHA E C I O V voice d e r a h s / k .u g r .o housing
Why we need a shared voice The public are confused about who we are, what we do, and why. Even politicians are unclear about our collective contribution. Here’s the rub. Many of our communications about ourselves as organisations are great. But they should build a picture of a sector which the nation cannot do without. Instead, the national perception is hazy. We can best engage people about the national role of housing associations where there is a basic grasp of what we do. The first step is to ensure that we are all talking about ourselves in a similar way.
Our shared messages In late 2012, a group of chief executives and senior communications staff came together to consider whether we could create a simple, clear narrative about housing associations. We wanted to create a story which over a thousand diverse organisations could get behind.
It’s simple This is not a complex campaign or communications strategy. It’s three messages we can all build into our work, and a shared body of evidence we can all collect to back them up. We want people to hear those messages, in different places and different ways, again and again. Before too long, we want to hear them echoed back when we ask people what they know about housing associations.
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T A H T S E M O H R E V I E DEL 1W D R O F F A N A C E L P O PE 2 WE INVEST IN PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES R O F T I N I E R A 3 WE THE LONG-TERM OUR
Using them Build these forms of words into your everyday messaging. They might appear as bullet points or you might simply use phrases to describe your organisation and or the sector as a whole.
Ideas: •P ress releases – include them in your notes to editors • Speeches and presentations – use the three areas as a structure or drop the phrases into your scripts (eg “We don’t build and run – we’re in it for the longterm, so we need to build communities that will work”)
•N ewsletters – these phrases can appear in lots of ways through your articles and editorials (eg “We are helping to build a new neighbourhood centre because we are in it for the long-term”) •A bout us – most organisations have an ‘about us’ section on their website and in corporate literature, ensure these phrases appear
Spread the word Do please build these into your own messaging strategy. Ensure that all staff incorporate the phrases into what they say and write. The National Housing Federation has committed to using these messages in its own communications, helping to stitch our story together nationally.
FROM SMAL ACOR L NS…
The evidence As well as getting the three basic messages out there, we would like housing associations to start using shared metrics. We want everyone to back up the messages with similar statistics.
As an added benefit, the three messages and the evidence to back them up reflect the ‘triple bottom line’. This reporting method is used by many housing associations. It captures success in three areas:
Choose relevant measures from the list below and use them to evidence what you are saying.
• Economic • Social • Environmental
“Last year, we helped 250 of your constituents to find a job” is a powerful piece of information. Imagine every politician hearing something similar from every housing association. The effect would be enormous.
THE S T C FA
Measurements You can choose the timescale and geography to show these over.
1 DELIVERING HOMES THAT PEOPLE CAN AFFORD (ECONOMIC)
2 WE INVEST IN PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES (SOCIAL)
3 WE ARE IN IT FOR THE LONG-TERM (ENVIRONMENTAL)
• How many affordable homes we’ve delivered
• Who we house – the profile of our customers (eg age, employment, support needs etc)
•H ow long we have been operating here already
•N umber of households who have moved into our homes •H ow many we’ve helped to get on the housing ladder •W hat we contribute to the local economy in terms of jobs and investment
• How many people we’ve helped stay independent •H ow many people we offer supported housing to (if you offer a large number, you could break this down by the kind of people assisted) •T he number of training, employment support or apprenticeship opportunities we’ve offered •H ow many of those led to paid work •T he impact of community investment (notoriously hard to measure, but many are trying)
•H ow many homes we provide locally (owned and/or managed) •W hat we’re investing in neighbourhood improvements • What we’re investing in people’s homes (can you show how much residents will save on energy bills or similar?)
: T A S A E D I T S E T A L E H T H T I KEEP UP W
e c i o v d e r a h s / k u . g r o . housing