Building a children’s play area (and what it’s got to do with communications)

I’ll admit before we start that there is a communications-related moral to this story.

As part of my work as a Parish Councillor in Watlington, I recently led a project to replace the play equipment in one of our parks. It was old and rotting, and was inviting vandalism. We live round the corner from this little park, and my little girl and her Daddy go there most nights when he gets home from work, so it was a labour of love for me to work on getting some lovely new play equipment.

We got a 50% grant from South Oxfordshire District Council, but I still found myself in a position where I needed to raise £10,000 in four months. In a town of just 2,500 people, this looked like no mean feat, but (and this is ironic given my business name) I underestimated the power of talking. I organised an Easter Egg Hunt, a wine tasting and a bouncy castle party, each of which raised a few hundred pounds but also attracted a lot of people (both actual attendees and passers by). I posted a lot on the town Facebook noticeboard. I put up some posters. I spent a couple of hours one Saturday morning standing outside the Town Hall collaring people and telling them all about the lovely new play area we could have.

And suddenly, people were offering things to the cause right, left and centre – donations of both time and money, event ideas, grant suggestions. I made it over the fundraising finish line months before I realistically expected to do so. Here’s my girl playing in the playground I built for her.

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It’s only now that I realise this was, in fact, a communications project. All I did was tell people (both in person and through various digital and print media) what was happening, what was possible, and how we could get from A to B. It was pretty simple, but it worked because I was talking to the right people.

This is how easy communications can be. Maybe the channels are a little different (I’m probably not going to offer to stand in the cold on a Saturday morning and advertise your business for you, I’m afraid) but the fundamentals are the same – get your message to the people who want it, in a way they can access it, and in a language they understand.

I had a lot of fun getting the play area. But not as much fun as I’m having with our new slide and log cabin house!

 

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