Magic dust that benefits society

Think of social good as the magic dust that benefit as many people in society as possible.

Look for it and you’ll find it sprinkled in so many places. You can see it in a stop smoking campaign or emergency messages to a town about to be flooded by a burst river.

You can find the magic social good dust in the voluntary group that puts on a session for new parents or the Facebook group that’s just been set-up by residents to organise how the flooded town recovers from the floods.

If the stuff is magic dust that everyone wants shouldn’t the PR around it be really easy? In theory, yes. In practice, it’s never been harder.

Falling budgets, turf wars, politics with a big and small ‘p’ make it complicated. Add the internet to all this and it gets rapidly more complicated. The old ways are being blown away and very often we still haven’t worked out how to do the new.

Added to this is the changing role of the Town Hall. In the old days institutions were seen to have all the answers and those people in the community should just concentrate on being happy with their lot. Not any more.

To be good at PR for social good you need three things.

Firstly, you need to be a militant optimist, you need to speak truth to power and lastly you shouldn’t be confined by the limits of ‘PR’.

Why a militant optimist? David Barrie coined this phrase back in 2010 when he looked at the 13 tribes of civic life. What binds many of them together is a belief that there can and must be a better place. If social good is the magic dust the militant optimist is the person who tries to scatter this in places where it’s needed. When the social web was in its infancy these were the people in local government, the voluntary sector or central government who were trying things out at the risk of their career because they could see it was a better way of doing things.

Why speak truth to power? Because it’s the role of the PR and comms team to challenge and ask a question. It always has been.

Why not be limited to just ‘PR’? Because as the role of PR and communications changes there’s a debate to be had over how relevant the title even is any more. Talk. Listen. Ask. Share the sweets and allow others the ability to use digital comms to talk to people.

It’ll be fun working out the answers to all these questions.

Guest post by Dan Slee. Dan will Chair a session on PR for Social Good at The PRofessionals on Thursday, 16 June. Read the line-up here