I’ve been struck by that word all of this last week as comments circulate on Facebook about Covid-19, about governments, about our own responses to what we’re being told.
Some nearly 2 months into our Lockdown and I’ve honestly given up listening to the daily press briefings of our Australian leaders. They’ve become as repetitive as the worst ads one sees on TV and which one inevitably ignores.
But this next week is crucial.
As of tomorrow, we’re coming out of Lockdown by a very gradual easing of restrictions with the aim of society returning to a norm of sorts within a couple of months. This presupposes no second spike.
The messaging at those press briefings has become very ambiguous and one needs to go online to clarify. My question to those who appear at press briefings daily is why can’t you be as specific on air as you are with your online guidelines and why presuppose that everyone has access to the internet and online information, let alone a daily newspaper? What about those who live very regionally (and we are a big country after all) and who may not have broadband, WiFi or even a computer at all?
Radio is a godsend and really, the message needs to be clear, unambiguous and not riddled with clichés which indeed become the white noise that makes us switch off.
If I take any messaging away when all this is over, it will be the memory of making my pregnant sister ill (I have no sister and even if I did, she’d be a record breaker as she’d be in her 60’s and pregnant) and also that I’m old and at risk. (‘Old’ is a matter of opinion…) and that my home state is geriatric. And I ask, why is it necessary to use such repetition? Is it because the speechwriters don’t know their stuff? Is it because governments need ad agencies to show them how to do it? Is it because they are dumbing down the message?
‘Emotion is more than just a handy tool to sprinkle throughout marketing tactics, it has a very real, scientifically-proven impact on consumer decision-making.’ (BigBuzzInc.com)
Bearing that in mind, we can understand the first couple of times our leaders used the ‘old at risk’ and ‘pregnant’ lines. It’s emotional, it appeals to our better selves and maybe, just maybe, it initially helped strike the chord that the governments wanted. At that point!
But 2 months on and we’re all jaded, tired, sick of our homes and our spaces and bored of listening to white noise. I live in a very small coastal community and in the last 2 weeks, the increased amount of folk arriving in the place on a Friday night has been noticeable. Yesterday, after Friday’s press conference on the new rules as we ease the ‘foot off the pedal’ (another cliché!), there were more people through the town, more cars at various houses and more people and dogs on the beaches. Even as this is being written, husband is looking out the window and watching 4 adults and 3 children walking together to the beach with no social distancing. Thus, the message is not getting through. And one might ask, why?
‘Success depends on first finding the right message, but it’s equally critical to distribute this message effectively.’ (BigBuzzInc.com)
I hope that these tired and frazzled politicians and Chief Medical Officers will now change their wording, make it real and not filled with cliché. Make it ‘the right message’. We need to get through these next phases with such care to make sure we give our state and country the best possible chance of returning to normality and a half decent economy without a massive upswing of the virus. For me the greatest impact has not been anything our politicians and CMO’s have said at all. It was the day a Facebook friend in the USA asked who of her countrymen had lost either friends or family. The mega-responses took my breath away.
It also made me realise how lucky we have been to date in Australia and how important it is for our politicians and CMO’s to get it right in this next phase. No cliché, no gilding of the lily. People see how lucky we are and the restrictions just don’t compute. They start looking for conspiracy theories, for someone to blame, and those who can, agitate. It’s history repeating.
So I’ll watch and listen with interest from tomorrow, judging whether the message has been received by the community. Time will tell.
On a much more superficial level, watching and listening, assessing messages and the power of the word has made me realise that I need to get back into my own brand, reassess all my book blurbs, my website and anything else that I’m using as a message to a consumer, because things become tired in a short space of commercial time. So, as I manoeuvre myself out of Lockdown, trying to be careful and doing what’s right, that’s my plan.
What’s yours until we get to the other side?