As protected landscapes and the rural economy re-open after lockdown clear messaging is critical in managing visitors …and their expectations.
The last few months have provided an object lesson in how to – and how not to – execute a coherent and consistent communications strategy.
Saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time to the wrong audience is the most obvious risk, but in this era of media saturation, saying nothing can also create problems.
The risk is that in the absence of any guidance or information, people tend to draw their own conclusions: disposable barbecues haven’t actually been banned, therefore I am free to use one for my socially distanced picnic.
Perhaps the key learning is that getting it wrong can be enormously costly – in terms of reputational damage and lost credibility – but also in terms of the additional resources required to get your messaging back on track.
The landscape and environment sector is fortunate to attract extremely committed, passionate, intelligent people but it is not usually blessed with an abundance of resources – for anything – let alone delivering a communications strategy.
The focus is on delivering for the environment and the community. Media and marketing rightly take a back seat. And yet for the majority of the lay public, if they can’t see the valuable work of National Parks, AONBs, NGOs, charities and rural enterprises, they remain blissfully unaware of it. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Viewed from this perspective, many managers accept that a budget is needed for communications, but only a small one. So how do you deliver as much awareness and engagement as possible within the constraints of that pretty modest pot?