I recently returned from the New Wine conference (nothing to do with wine unfortunately) where I represented my client: the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART). HART is headed by the inspiration Baroness Cox, who had taken her team to Armenia over the first week of New Wine. I was delighted to represent them in their absence.
In the run up to the event I had project-managed the creation of some of their display materials including a 2m x 2m pull-up stand. This was designed to be as generic as possible to suit a number of contexts, but that meant that the specific ‘ask’ we needed for the event – in this case appealing for signatures for a Sudan petition – could not be included.
The solution? A £15 foamex board printed up saying ‘Sign our petition for Sudan’.
I’d meant for the board to be stuck to the front of a lecturn but it proved to be below the eye line. The message was clear IF people saw it… but it was simply too low. Another simple solution: I removed it and held it up like a sandwich board. I looked slightly ridiculous but at least people looked. And read. And had to respond:
Do you care? Or not?
Sign the petition or carry on walking.
The photo doesn’t really do it justice. The main strength was that all the other charities in the exhibition area had conventional static displays, so nearly all the passers-by read my board simply because human curiosity drove them to see what I was holding. The passers-by had to reject me, not just the message. Natural politeness made them think twice.
I’d managed to make a human connection with a static message; it demanded a response more powerfully than any unmanned display. It was unusual. I’m not saying it was clever, but it certainly worked.
After 10 long days of camping and standing on concrete, I was a little ragged and ready for home. I was therefore very happy to see the cavalry arrive in the form of Lydia Tanner (rightmost) and volunteer Natalie. Lydia had pretty much come straight from Armenia to relieve me.
HART is an amazing organisation and I am looking forward to the next few projects I have lined up with them. Can’t give too much away now but I hope to be posting more soon!