WHO IS TIMO LUGE?
“I have not recommended shutting down Facebook pages. I have advised, however, to shut down YouTube comments“
Timo Lüge is a Communications and Advocacy Consultant working mainly for UN agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. He has been working in the humanitarian sector for seven years and worked as a journalist for nearly ten years prior to that.
During emergency response operations, Timo works mainly on public information and media relations. When in Europe or the US, he focuses on how digital technology can be better used to support emergency management and humanitarian relief operations. Timo blogs at http://sm4good.com.
You can connect with Timo here:
IN TOR 026 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- The importance and value of having a clear communications strategy, why it’s not fancy but a must in a world where more voices are heard and social media can bring light to anything.
- Timo’s experiences around the world and from early on, and what he can do for your communications, especially the digital kind.
- His do’s and dont’s about reaching out to media, journalists and the public; dealing with their expectations, taking care of one’s online reputation, blogging and more.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- Shelter Cluster
- New York Times
- International Organization for Migration (IOM)
- Handicap International
- Communications strategy
- Social media
- Disaster response
- Communication professional
- Message consistency
- Reputation management
- Social media monitoring
- Berlin, Germany
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
Emphasis on digital communications.
Lot of on the field work. Just back from Philippines, disaster response for large scale response with Shelter Cluster.
Contracts involve fixed duties, and long term, ‘retainer-like.’ It varies year to year.
Work is coming to him. Red Cross was his last employment. First consulting year involved a lot of reaching out and applying. Now, repeat clients, word of mouth, and his blog.
“I don’t update it as much as I probably should.“
People write him, ask him to write about specific stuff.
Perspective clients like the blog as first impression of his views and knowledge.
It’s designed just as a useful source for practitioners and first-timers.
Readers are more interested in the topic, than him. It has promoted conversations. “It’s a sounding board.“
Development and social media
Main use is fundraising. A lot of them don’t do a good job.
Organizations get criticized about the wrong thing. In disaster response, people are impatient and want problems to be fixed quickly. Organizations don’t take the time to make their case. “Media does not understand us.“
But they need to take the time and make the process clear, say “this is why things are not happening as fast.“
Journalists are interested and understanding. It’s just a communications capacity issue.
Having a dedicated communications professional on board is not a luxury.
“When reports actually match what is going on the ground.“
Six months after Haiti, a New York Times front page article. Timo felt it didn’t do justice. “Not that there weren’t any problems.” Efforts were made about teaching people to build things better, not building things the right way. Buildings were probably the biggest cause of death.
Timo’s expertise is digital. He’s an early adopter, especially on the Internet. He’s also traveled. He can quickly gather a sense of what goes on in the field.
When organization talk about technology they often see it as another tool, they don’t really wonder about its pertinence or best uses. “It’s not just about having a Facebook page. Overall communication strategy comes first,” outlets and mechanisms second.
Paragraphs of a great communication strategy
Alignment to business goals.
Business talk is widespread in development organizations.
Communication success depends highly on people, their skills and openness. It also depends on institutional processes, how much autonomy, how much ‘signing’ they have to do to send a message.
All organizations have constraints, if not budgetary, bureaucratic.
“Everyone should have a communications guy- it does not need to be exclusive“. It also depends on the program.
People are communicators, they could set up their programs with just some training and coordination meetings. It’s different if organizations need large advocacy or marketing campaigns as part of a project.
More and more people want to communicate better, not only with the media, but directly with the people.
Shifts in their focuses
Some organizations have done a good job in staying relevant. IOM, Handicap International. Organizations are dedicating more resources and paying more attention.
“Yes, you do need to make sure you have a consistent message” that reflects all communications across all media. “You cannot say one thing to donors and another to communities anymore.“
Philippines. Government housing left people unhappy. While the project was edited to include changes to the houses, media reports spread that international NGOs were very upset about the houses, which was the opposite. Government was open to do explaining, and the organizations also had to intercede.
Representing others, communicating for them
Some work is controversial, writings and reports included, cases in which it makes sense to have a professional ‘green-light.’
Organizations tend to understand Timo will be an intercessor of sorts with the media, even sometimes his name shows up on the news.
Despite being an intermediary on the ground, from time to time his work ends up shelved. Strategy plans. “I have to accept that.“
Technology now and then
“As a reputation manager, assume the worst: almost everybody tweets.“
“But from a public information point of view, assume the exact opposite.“
Mobile phones, smart and feature, are changing everything. SMS, mobile cash.
Oftentimes people want to use the cutting edge when it’s not warranted. “I’ve seen SMS be more useful than Twitter or Facebook.“
Philippines is the largest per capita SMS sender in the world. In impact rural areas people and organizations did not have a social media focus. Users in cities did use social media but they reached people in rural areas by switching to SMS. Often social media reports did not reach ground zeroes.
Social media monitoring is important. “People use them as feedback for programs, they complain in there. Reputations can be damaged with the organization not even being aware.“
Rules are not defined, people should be trusted. “Post like your mom, your boss and CNN are watching.“
A project he worked on. Project leaders did not want to engage in conversations about their own work. “It was a missed opportunity.“
Communications on the field are easier. Office work involve too many iterations. “Everyone can benefit from two drafts, but after that the value of an additional revision drops significantly.” People don’t have time for that
“You need to bring something to the table.” It’s not just about good attitude.
“Getting you there is expensive. Make it worthwhile.“
Have experience, problem solving skills.
Please share, participate and leave feedback below!
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