“To garner public support for their causes, the development community must connect with rest of society using everyday phrases, metaphors and images. That is a far better strategy than expecting everyone to understand their gobbledygook.”
This is the central argument in my latest op-ed essay, just published on the Communication Initiative blog.
Titled Crossing the ‘Dev-Code’ Divide, I revisit a theme familiar to my regular readers: getting development pr0fessionals to communicate better.
“After working with technological ‘geeks’ and development workers for many years, I know they have at least one thing in common: their own peculiar languages that don’t make much sense to the rest of us.
“Talking in code is fine for peer-to-peer conversations. But it’s a nonstarter for engaging policy makers and the public.”
An example of coded language is the oft-bandied Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – lofty ideals, badly packaged.
This essay is a tribute to my mentor and former colleague Robert Lamb (1952 – 2012), who was a grandmaster in communicating development to public and policy audiences using simple language and powerful imagery.
Working with Robert for 15 years, I saw how he brought seemingly dreary development issues alive on TV and video – dominant media of his time — through simple and sincere story telling. He mixed inter-governmental processes with stark ground level realities. In three decades he produced or commissioned hundreds of international TV documentaries exploring what sustainable development meant in the real world.
Read the full essay: Crossing the ‘Dev-Code’ Divide
See also related blog posts:
April 2007: MDG: A message from our spin doctors?
April 2007: Say MDG and smile, will ya?