Soap box - Nick Williams, head of corporate and public affairs, Fleishman-Hillard

Challenging our assumptions about the principles of comms - and that includes political comms - must be one of the most fundamental skills that anyone in the industry can possess.

Political comms: Nick Williams
Political comms: Nick Williams

And this has been clearly demonstrated by one of the most fascinating campaigns that I have ever had the honour to work on. VRS Today! aims to create equal telecoms access for the UK's 50,000-plus British Sign Language (BSL) users through the widespread availability of Video Relay Services (VRS), a technology already available in many countries, but not in the UK on a universal basis.

The campaign, which will require DCMS ministers to positively support VRS, relies on grass-roots engagement to mobilise the UK's BSL community.

We soon discovered that even the latest digital public affairs techniques and skills - which are best known to generate grass-roots support - have their limitations.

Our goal of energising the deaf community to lobby their MPs and ministers was frustrated - simply because the first language for many in this community is not English but BSL.

Not only did we have to translate all materials into BSL, but we also had to recognise the importance of word-of-mouth within the BSL community to communicate. So assumptions were totally challenged.

These lessons have been critical to the success of VRS Today!, which is gaining increased political support based on a depth of grass-roots support combined with solid economic and legal research.

Never has challenging one's own comms assumptions been more important. Now it is for political decision-makers to challenge their own assumptions and allow universal VRS in the UK.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Pay-TV giant Sky has added Fever PR to its agency line-up for a wide-ranging brief covering products and services.

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.

Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers to join Warner Bros

Former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers to join Warner Bros

Warner Bros has appointed former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers as EVP for worldwide corporate communications and public affairs, effective September 2.