Why, is one of my favourite words. Why? Because, it’s small, and yet so powerful.
It’s a word we use effortlessly as a child. My two children are relentless in their questioning. Why this, why that… I can get quite frustrated, but not because they are inquisitive, but rather that it means I have to find and explain the answer. This can sometimes be quite difficult when you’ve lived with that fact for so long you just accept it. Does anyone know why the sky is blue?
When you’re working, either employed or as a freelancer, it’s often easier to accept instruction and not question ‘why?’. A client may say: We need a magazine; we need to get social; or we need to do a roadshow. But no matter what it is, it isn’t best practice to just send out stuff (SOS), and it isn’t going to get results.
By putting ‘why’ at the heart of everything you do, you get a much clearer picture of what you want to achieve. Your objective. And when you have a clear objective, you can plan how you will achieve it. Your tactics.
For example; “why do you need a newsletter?” “Because we need people to understand what we do, and we need them to get involved in this project.”
“OK, so why should they get involved?” “Because it will help their community, make it stronger, safer, and a more attractive place to live.”
“Oh, OK, now I get it. Perhaps a newsletter is not the best way to get people really engaged in this project. Perhaps a series of community activities would be a better way to show people what they need to know and get them involved.”
So ask why? Always, ask WHY?
You’re not being difficult, obstructive or stupid: you are being inquisitive, thorough and focussed on objectives. By asking why, you are trying to understand exactly what it is your organisation wants to achieve. You need to know why it needs to communicate, why people need to know, and why people need to act before you can begin putting any tactics in place and investing any budget or time in a project.
When you know ‘why’ then you can plan all the tactics and messages to achieve that communication objective.