In August 2022 I started my first Westco associate post, leading communications for a flood resilience project, run by three partners, and funded by Defra. This role focuses primarily on developing a project brand and a content and media programme, as well as working with the wider team to deliver the communications and engagement workstream.
Being brought in through Westco specifically for the project I have the advantage of being neutral ground between the partners. Something that is very important!
The project partners are Richmond Council, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Barnes Common Limited. Each partner brings different expectations, experiences, and ways of doing things. The diverse strengths and approaches to tackling challenges is an asset. But it has the potential to make the project’s brand and message complicated and confused. To bring a consistent identity and message we created a shared vision, mission, and values.
It is part of the £150 million Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme managed by the Environment Agency. The project will work with local people to equip them, and the landscape, to be more prepared and able to bounce back from flooding.
Managing unique expectations
Each of the project partners has a unique set of expectations about what the project will do:
- The Council has a statutory responsibility to help reduce and manage flooding.
- The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is creating a world where healthy wetland nature thrives and enriches lives. This project offers the opportunity to create more Wetland to help manage flooding. It will also develop new ways of working with local people to enrich their lives.
- Barnes Common Limited oversees Barnes Common, Leg o’ Mutton Local Nature Reserve, and Vine Road Recreation Ground. This project offers the opportunity to improve and conserve these sites, including managing the ways they flood and offering a better experience for visitors.
The project partners developed a project plan that secured £6 million from Defra. A big achievement and milestone for the project.
Despite shared objectives each project partner still spoke differently about the project. My first task was to understand the project in great detail and the partners. With this understanding I was able to develop one shared vision. With a shared vision we knew we were all looking and working in the same direction.
Understanding unique experiences
Our experiences colour the way we see the world and it’s through them that we choose how we work towards our vision.
Each project partner had different ideas about how we would work towards our vision. It brings diversity of thought and challenges everyone to keep on improving. It reflects the strengths that each of the partners brings to the project.
Once we were pointing in the same direction with our shared vision, we needed our shared mission. A way for us to explain the shared route we would take to reach our vision. Our shared mission has space for the diverse strengths and experiences. It explains the steps we are taking together to reach our vision.
Managing unique ways of doing things
Every person and every organisation will have a unique way of doing things. Our expectations, experiences, environment, and values shape how we approach a challenge. By defining our project values, we have created a framework for our decision making. This will be helpful where we may not have a defined plan or agreement or even have disagreements. Our values are how we will work together and avoid misunderstanding.
Our values are common, but we have applied them to our circumstances. We have agreed what it is about them that makes them important to us. For example, one of our values is about working hard. This is an obvious value and it’s important to the project. And it was also important to agree that working hard doesn’t mean perfection. For the project it means good, effective, and efficient.
We are now working to develop a name and visual identity. We have a solid foundation to do this work having defined our project mission, vision, and values. In the new year we will begin our engagement and communicating with our target audiences.
The project will be running for the next five years. It has the potential to make a difference for thousands of people’s lives and businesses. It is a privilege to use communications to help the partners work towards the shared vision.
Are you looking for similar communications support? Why not reach out to Westco?
Even if you don’t know what skill set you need or how long you might need someone to step in for, if you have a job or a project that needs to be implemented, reach out to see how we can help. Email Nalini at firstname.lastname@example.org call us on 020 7641 5242 or use this form to get in touch.
And if you are a communications or engagement specialist, looking for a new challenge – reach out to us. We are always looking for new people to put on our books.
Amy Jimenez Bedrock - Communications Lead