In the March of 1963, Martin Luther King told a sea of people who had gathered at Washington DC that he has a dream and it catapulted the civil rights agenda to a position of urgent resolution.
What he did in the 5 minutes of oratorical brilliance when he deviated from his written speech, penetrated the persecution drenched skin of the ethnic minorities and stuck to their hearts with a fervour. In common parlance, he communicated a powerful thought, in equally powerful words.
Why am I invoking this piece of history? Only because I have a dream, to live in a world that is more just, more equal and more peaceful than the one I was born into. And because I am setting the context to a crucial task that I am proposing we take up. When I say we, I am referring in particular to those of us who spend our days using images, text, and design to convince people to buy a bar of soap and use extensive campaigns to turn prospects into customers — the communications professionals
Many of us might not become or even aspire to be reformers of our generation, what we do have is the training and means to get messages heard. And I think it is essential we use it in ways that go beyond just earning a living.
You might think you are already doing more than your share by voicing your concern on multiple social media platforms that are now available to us. But there is a fundamental issue with that kind of activism. It spreads awareness, and your angst about the issue (which is great to get the blood boiling) but it does not offer tangible solutions.
So, should you be working to find a solution instead?
Not necessarily, but you can work to support those who have dedicated their working lives to doing so.
I work in a not for profit organisation that is working to fight poverty by providing low-cost loans. We are doing important work and the challenge lies in getting the message out — in other words, communicating with enough people — to raise funds for these loans.
Social Media, which is touted as the cheapest medium to reach out to people continues to be far too expensive for non-profits like us.
Getting our voice heard amidst the din of social media and ever reducing attention spans, and doing this on a shoestring budget continues to be a challenge.
What we lack in money we make up in ingenuity, but that is not to say we are poised to take on the world with our communication efforts.
And that’s where you come in.
By you, again, I mean every communication professional out there. And I don’t mean professional in the academic sense of the word, but use it as an umbrella term that includes every profession that is engaged in expressing ideas. You could be a photographer, a painter or a MarCom manager and your work can make a difference to the people who are working tirelessly to change the world one life at a time.
What is it that you can do? You can communicate. Pick a cause that is close to your heart, pick an NGO that is working to find a solution to what bothers you and become its evangelist. Of course, take your time to study their work; ask questions to convince yourself of their dedication and integrity, but once you are satisfied, talk about them, communicate their core objective through your work and convey how it is that every other person out there can help fulfill their goal.
You might wonder if your efforts will count, and the truth is I don’t know.
After all, selling something that does not provide a tangible product or service in return is hard work. What I am certain of, is one thing — if you don’t try, you will never find out.
Tintu Saleem has extensive experience in corporate communications and brand building and is currently the Head of Marketing & Outreach at www.rangde.org. Looking to make a career switch? You can check for any job openings at Rang De here.
Would you like to get updates about your favourite organisation working hard to bring you closer to rural development? Sign up for updates into your inbox at his link.