Adeela Warley: Authenticity is the only way for charities to be heard in the social media melee

A distinct and authentic tone of voice will help ensure we are seen and heard in the daily maelstrom of auditory, visual and text information

Adeela Warley
Adeela Warley

It’s panto season and the emotional genie is out of the bottle. We’re constantly told the nation is divided, with people using their freedom to express how they feel. It’s often shouty and angry, whether that’s politicians on the campaign trail or the verbal backlash from TV studio audiences. We are left in no doubt about how people are feeling.

Social media provides an immediate unmediated platform to broadcast and amplify grievances, worries, personal preferences and assumptions.

Being seen and heard in the melee means thinking long and hard about the choice of words and images we use, and asking ourselves what will cut through and be an authentic expression of our values and personality. It’s a challenging context for charity brands.

The RNLI’s recent response to negative media and public outcry about its international work was immediate and robust. The charity saw it as an opportunity to talk about its work both at home and globally. Its confident communications prompted overwhelming public support, with a month’s worth of website visitors in just a few days and many people donating for the first time.

Another example of best practice comes in the RNIB’s campaign See the Person, Not the Sight Loss, which helps to create a brave tone of voice and modernises the brand. Crucially, this has been developed with and led by the charity’s community, and uses humour to share the important message that people with sight loss are more than their sight condition and face many of the same challenges and distractions we all do.

A distinct and authentic tone of voice will help to ensure we are seen and heard in the daily maelstrom of auditory, visual and text information long after the panto season has ended.

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms

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