Sharon's Blog

February 2018

It's good to tell stories

We live in an age where we are bombarded by communications and messages from the very moment we wake up to when we eventually go to sleep. All around us people are telling their stories. The most successful adverts engage us in stories of people, lives and how it could be made so much better for us with this or that product. The majority of us use social media of some sort, which means that we are alive to the stories of others; not only of our family and friends but also of the wider community. We share their frustrations, their sadness, their joy and their triumphs. These insights can be welcome or not, it is in our gift as to how much we consume or take in. But they do spark thoughts, insights and sometimes inspiration.

I have been a communications professional for most of my working life. I have been privileged to work with some truly inspirational people and to share and help them share their stories. Because that’s really what a good communications professional does, they listen to the emerging narrative and help this narrative to evolve in the best way possible. I’ve often smiled when some have said to me “oh that’s just spin, you’re a spin doctor”. That’s not my view. To my knowledge, I’ve never tried to put a spin on anything, that’s reinventing the plot. A bit like pretending that the wolf really is Grandma and that his intentions, despite the teeth, are entirely honourable.  I prefer something a little closer to reality.

What does this mean?  In my role as Coastal Manager for Coastal Partnership East I work with people who are linked to the coast by a number of threads. They might work for organisations that have responsibilities on the coast, they might run businesses on the coast or they might be part of the communities that live there. All of these people have common threads and sometimes I have the opportunity to be part of something that draws these threads together.

Once such project was as part of the Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority’s (EIFCA) Common Ground work. Their approach, initiated by Community Voice Consulting, brought together people along the East Coast to share stories about their work and lives and how this linked to the fisheries industry, past, present and future. It was part of EIFCA’s work towards achieving more sustainable fisheries but became so much more as people demonstrated a real desire to get involved.  The resulting interviews were truly fascinating and in some cases really very entertaining, local characters emerging as their stories were heard. The lessons learnt have shaped how they and others will work with communities in the future. The narrative weaved by those people who got involved was captivating and showed a real love for the coast, their coast, our coast.

 You can find out more about the project here.