Stronger messaging for Stronger Shores
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April 11, 2022

Overview

Stronger Shores, led by South Tyneside Council, is a project which aims to make British coastlines and communities stronger in the face of flooding, erosion and climate change. The team is motivated by the knowledge that habitats and communities will suffer if nothing is done to protect the declining British coastline. So, Stronger Shores is working with experts to learn how hidden underwater habitats – seagrass meadows, kelp forests and oyster reefs – improve water quality, erosion, wave impacts, wildlife and more. This project, which is funded by Defra, uses of the power of nature to restore ocean health, benefit communities and help the UK become a world-leader in climate solutions. It also has the potential to transform government policy and unlock future funding – which makes it particularly exciting!

The challenge

The South Tyneside Council team are passionate and excited about the Stronger Shores project but felt they needed clearer messaging to engage people externally. While they had described the project clearly in proposals and to stakeholders, they felt their messaging didn’t yet ‘pop’ and wanted wording that made people unrelated to the project as excited as they were.

Having been so immersed in the project for a long time, they were finding it hard to see the wood for the trees. In particular, it was challenging for them to clearly communicate a project with so many different elements – especially when trying to do so without using the jargon and sometimes-confusing terminology that is all too common in the conservation sector. So, they needed an objective consultant who could help them find an accurate and exciting way of describing the project – not to mention something that anyone could understand, even if they didn’t have any exciting conservation knowledge.

The strategy

  • ·Reviewed the project’s current messaging and bid documentation
  • ·Hosted 2x two-hour positioning workshops with key stakeholders to help identify and discuss the most important messages
  • Shared key take outs from each workshop so the team had clear documentation of the main pointsdiscussed and any actions that needed to be taken
  • Used the outputs of the workshop to develop a messaging document for review
  • Drafted additional materials including collating useful ‘fast facts’ about the region’s conservation efforts as well as descriptions of different marine habitats and how they protect coastlines
  • Liaised closely with South Tyneside Council throughout – through email and additional calls – to understand their pain points and ensure the document provided would meet their needs
  • Created a final messaging document based on team feedback ahead of the final deadline

The results

Working with the team for around a month, Melissa helped South Tyneside Council develop a messaging document that could be used to describe Stronger Shores in a way that will be easily understood by all stakeholders, whatever their level of subject knowledge. As well as a two-page project overview, the document outlined ways of talking about the project when different word limits are in place: 500 words, 250 words, 100 words, 50, 30, 20 and 10 words all the way down to a five-word strapline. By using this resource as the basis for any messaging around the project (even if tweaked for a particular context), team members can now talk confidently about the project in an accurate and impactful way.

Melissa was an external consultant for South Tyneside Council’s Stronger Shores team in March 2022.

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“I had the pleasure of working with Melissa very recently on communications planning for the Stronger Shores project. Melissa’s brief was to

take our complicated project messaging and distill down to make it pop! Melissa’s passion for marine conservation was a real draw; I knew we were in the best hands possible, as her love for nature and the ocean really shone through.

"I was particularly impressed with the way Melissa cleverly facilitated the workshops. What felt like a conversation to us, Melissa was expertly

gleaming the information she needed to hone together an effective and punchy messaging document. I would highly recommend Melissa for any of your PR, comms and copywriting work, especially if you are looking tailor your comms strategy to encourage behaviour change and help the environment! I really hope to work with Melissa again in the future.”

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