Creativity / Digital

Tell great stories, inspire our audience and build a sense of community

Elena Plaiter

At last year’s Edinburgh International Television Festival Elisabeth Murdoch, CEO of Shine TV, delivered the MacTaggart lecture. In it she talks about the TV industry, but there’s a few nuggets that can be applied to any medium that produces content.  

“…the more fundamental ingredients to our collective success; our sense of purpose which is our motivation as creative people. We are here to tell great stories, to inspire our audience and to build a sense of community”

This is exactly what working in charities has shown me. We tell great stories (share case study stories, research successes, fundraiser’s triumphs), inspire our audience (to make lifestyle changes, donate money, volunteer) and build a sense of community (at fundraising events, online, through support groups). These are our  motivations as creative people. And we are creative people, because as well as creating content, we must increasingly come up with creative solutions to meet change (less donations, technology changes, social attitudes)

“We are a company that can only survive on its creative excellence. But I can’t mandate creativity… throwing money at a mediocre idea does not turn it into a hit show. Creative excellence depends on talent and expertise, of course, but also on motivation. It’s… the most difficult … the most essential ingredient for any successful creative organisation to get right. A hunger for excellence and a passion to resonate with our audience is far more motivating than money or fear.”

Charities using  a distributed content creation model, can struggle to motivate non digital specialists, or non comms specialists who are asked to maintain web pages and create content. They may feel they are doing the digital team a favour, or not see it as part of their job.  Incentives can’t be relied on, as their content role isn’t optional or temporary. A change of attitude is required. A recognition of the greater good. Of what their subject specialism brings to the website and to the wider charity. And accountability, so that when things are lacking, and the user misses out we can act to fix it. But how else can we motivate? How can we instil the hunger for excellence?

“A great creative organisation is like any successful community; it’s a place of honesty, integrity, and an environment where curiosity and enthusiasm are the norm. It’s a place that demands personal accountability, collective responsibility and true self-determination. It’s a place where opportunity doesn’t have to wait for a Board meeting; a place that stimulates self-expression and encourages collaborative endeavour.”

Be brave. Collaborate. Experiment. Toy with different solutions. When I’ve worked in organisation’s with this attitude, great successes have been made. And some failures (but you learn from those too).

“I would add that we ignore the rising generation of digital natives at our peril. New forms of content and new audience relationships are being created very rapidly outside our very linear old world…”

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with charities that recognise the importance of digital to meeting their own, and their users goals. But we’re learning new things all the time about audience relationships with different content types

“Digital platforms can translate audience trust into transactional relationships incredibly efficiently… But YouTube is not re-inventing the wheel. Remember that in their first decade, MTV had very little money for original production, but they like todays YouTube stars, had an authentic voice, they kept programming costs low and curated other people’s short videos. They created a community that was crying out to belong but wasn’t or couldn’t be catered for in the mainstream media of the day. YouTube and their thousands of DIY partners are doing the same thing – just with new and enhanced technology.”

Some interesting thoughts there on using video content to create a sense of community.

Read the full lecture here

See the lecture here


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