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The challenge of communicating about communication – the Hello campaign

8 February 2013

Running the Hello campaign presented The Communication Trust with a challenge. We know all about communication and how to spread messages but the people we needed to share information with just didn’t get what communication was about.

Surveyed before the campaign began 76% of people thought it was crucial to support and develop children’s speech and language. But 50% also said they wouldn’t recognise a speech and language need (SLCN) although they would have an instinct something was wrong.

Communication is often taken for granted; parents assume their child will automatically learn to talk but we know this is not always the case.

Raising awareness

One of the main aims of the Hello campaign was to make children and young people’s speech, language and communication a priority in homes, early years’ settings and schools across the country.

The campaign took supporters on a journey through communication, with 12 monthly themes to help engagement. Each theme linked to toolkits, activities and factsheets for parents and practitioners to use. The monthly themes helped the campaign build momentum, but meant people could join in for whichever month interested them and still go away with strong messages.

Milestone events were used at key points to boost the campaign and raise engagement. It began with I CAN’s Chatterbox Challenge in February where a new Guinness World Record was set for the largest number of people singing Heads, shoulders, knees and toes.

Working with corporate sponsors and utilising their communication channels, we were able to create and disseminate some excellent resources to make people aware of the ages and stages of children’s communication development and signpost where parents and practitioners could get further information if needed.

More than 350,000 copies of Hello resources were given out during the campaign including to a range of stakeholders at 120 conferences.

As part of their work with Hello, BT developed Talk Gym, an online resource for young people aimed at helping them understand why good communication is important. This helped us get young people – whose views we needed to gather – involved with Hello and Talk Gym was accessed more than 46,000 times.

Using different information channels

We knew that simply creating booklets to hand out was not enough. Research showed people were not consistent when looking for information about speech, language and communication. 38% said they would use the internet, 19% would ask their health visitor and 14% would discuss it with their own parents. So, our campaign had to cover a broad spectrum of information channels.

Hello was featured in local, national and trade print media, on radio and television and was promoted through our social media networks on Facebook and Twitter. Media evaluation showed the campaign created 464,429,518 opportunities to see, hear or read about the campaign, and 72% of UK adults reported they had heard the Hello message. A dedicated Hello website was visited 156,000 times.

But we didn’t stop there. The campaign made excellent use of film to demonstrate the difficulties children with SLCN face on a daily basis. On our YouTube channel, campaign film One in a Million­ was viewed more than 60,000 times and in The Way We Talk trust professional director Wendy Lee interviewed children with SLCN about their lives, the experiences at school and what it’s like to have an SLCN.

We also worked in partnership with Chapman Entertainment to support their programme Raa Raa the Noisy Lion. The programme, which is aimed at 2-4-year-olds, explores children's communication skills through the use of Raa Raa's 4 Rs – repetition, rhyme, rhythm and retelling.

Using local connections

Hello needed to cover a wide geographical area and we recruited a network of 200 local coordinators from across England. These volunteers, all connected to children’s communication as teachers, speech and language therapists or working for a local authority, took our resources and information back to their local areas and either implemented them or raised awareness of them with local practitioners and decision makers. Local coordinators were kept up-to-date with information through a newsletter every two months and they enabled us to reach a much wider audience.

Evaluating success

The secret to the Hello campaign’s success is simple – strong messages, a wide and engaged network of supporters and information available from a number of sources. Surveys carried out since the campaign show more parents are aware of what good communication looks like and what to do if they have concerns about their child’s development.

You can see the evaluation of the campaign here.

Check out our other case studies.

Anne Fox

director, The Communication Trust

Anne is director of The Communication Trust - a coalition of nearly 50 leading voluntary sector organisations working with children and young people with speech, language and communication needs. She's worked primarily in policy, campaigning and communications roles in the voluntary sector in the Republic of Ireland and UK. Covering issues including local development, unemployment, poverty, learning disability and family policy.