“Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead?”

Many of us of a certain age will remember being given this advice, from the children’s TV show ‘Why Don’t You?’

Replace “television set” with “computer/mobile/iPad” and you’ve got a sound suggestion for today’s workplace.

If you’re writing or producing publications for your charity, whether it’s an annual report, a newsletter or information about a fundraising event, it’s all too easy to churn out something stale and uninspiring. If you want your communications to stand out from the noisy crowd, you’ll need to do something “Less Boring”.

Here are four top tips on how to keep creative:

Visit your services. Regularly
Sitting in the ivory tower of head office and asking colleagues for case studies isn’t the best way to find stories with impact. Go out and meet the people who use your charity’s services. Talk to staff that run projects and chat to volunteers. Even if this isn’t officially part of your job, it’ll help you see first hand the impact your organisation is having on people’s lives. Then you can pass that on to your supporters.

Set up photoshoots
If you produce a publication regularly (and you’re not blessed with a healthy in-house photo library or photography budget) you’ll often find yourself scrabbling around for decent images. You know the type of shots you’re always looking for, so go out and take them. If you need an image of someone wearing your charity’s branded T-shirt or running vest, rope in a colleague to don the outfit at lunchtime. If you’re not the most promising photographer then find someone who is, and tell them exactly what you need.

Read. Read. Read.
Read magazines, newspapers and websites, and not just the obvious ones. Yes, ‘Third Sector’ is excellent for keeping up to date with the charity world. But if you’re looking for a little inspiration, try popular culture and general news sites and blogs. Try Google-ing random key words relating to your charity’s work or searching hashtags on Twitter and see what you find. Find out what people are talking about and get involved in conversations. It’ll help you reach the right people with the right messages.

Cut out the clichés and ditch the jargon
When a cliché or bit of “charity speak” pops into your head, work around it. Ask colleagues to think of an alternative phrase. Check the thesaurus; use Google. Sit on it until you get a better idea. But don’t be tempted to bung it in anyway.