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Solace blog

28th September 2017

Communications as the language of membership

I once came across a quote somewhere that has stuck with me: the art of communication is the language of leadership. It is also the language of membership. Our effectiveness as a membership body is intrinsically linked to our ability to communicate – with each other as well as those whom we seek to influence.

I’ve recently been looking at the results of the membership survey we conducted over the summer and the story that comes out of it. Obviously, having newly come into the role of Head of Policy, I’m particularly interested in what members had to say about the activities the Policy team have led on. It was really encouraging to see that our weekly policy briefing is widely-valued by members. We’re now looking at how we can enhance it and make it an even more useful tool to give members a sense of the key debates of the day. Watch this space!

The policy briefing is just one communications tool that we have, though. I’m keen to explore how we create more opportunities for wider member engagement on policy, rather than what may sometimes feel to you is transmission. I’d very much welcome your thoughts on how we can do that.

Another theme that came out of the survey is how much you value opportunities to communicate with each other. Quite often that happens through the events that we hold and the learning and development activities members participate in. I wonder, though, if we couldn’t take greater advantage of new technologies and social media platforms to generate an ongoing virtual dialogue. Many of you are much more expert on the possibilities so we will be looking to pick your brains.

Finally, I’m thinking about how we get our messages across to central government and other organisations with the potential to influence decisions at a national or local level. Effectiveness in this arena often comes down to identifying common ground and finding a shared story to tell. That is why we as a Policy team are putting more focus than ever on building relationships.

I also know that sometimes there’s no substitute for getting out and about – and I’m not just saying that because it’s my favourite part of the job (although that’s true too). What is common to any aspect of local government policy that we work on is the importance of councils’ place-shaping role and Solace members’ roles as leaders of place. Seeing your places first-hand and even just experiencing the journey to get there teaches us more than we could ever read in a book or article. And in turn, understanding those stories gives us powerful evidence to bring into discussions with government officials and other thought leaders.

If you would like to be more engaged in the Policy side of Solace’s work or have ideas about new ways that we could promote a wider policy discussion across our membership, I would love to hear from you:

By Piali Das Gupta, Head of Policy, Solace