30 days of human comms #70: The Barnsley Council films to encourage blokes to open up #alrightpal

It’s rare when there’s a sweet spot of things that I believe work in good communications.

Sometimes, if you work hard you can find one thing and if you’re lucky two.

Barnsley Council’s film to highlight male suicide has four.

It has a human voice. The subject of the video is human. He’s a bloke who looks mid-50s. He feels like the target audience. People in their 50s because he is one of them.

It has a human delivery. There’s something about poetry that gets to the awkward heart of the subject matter that blokes find it hard to open up to each other about the struggles they face. It’s important that they do. So the considered lines of a poem work where an interview may not. It’s also really personal.

It has a regional voice. The Barnsley accent will work best in Barnsley. Your own community’s voice will where you are.

It has subtitles. With September 23 closing in on us, tighter legislation comes into force for the public sector. You’ll need by law to subtitle and yet a substantial number of public sector videos still don’t. Yet, 80 per cent of people watch video without sound. It’s not just deaf people you’re excluding. It’s hearing people, too.

You can watch the video parts one and two here.

Normally, I’d argue against splitting two videos into two posts. There’s something about this that works. You reach the end of part one and you’re intrigued to see what happens next. The pal the narrator is talking about isn’t there. What’s happened? Is he dead? Is he living his life? It makes you keep watching.

For me, spoken word poetry is a really underused thing. The Manchester bombing and the poem that became totemic proved the power of words.

It has a local voice so it dips around issues of trust with Westminster and with politicians.

If I was working in the Black Country I’d be talking to Black Country poets about how they could articulate a truth that needed articulating. This BBC Radio 4 documentary shows that.

Meg Howlett and the rest of the team at Barnsley Council need to make some space on their mantelpieces for the awards they deserve to win for this.

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1 Comment

  1. This film is fantastic. I’m sure I’m not the only one who found it quite beautiful (it also made me tearful). Well done to Barnsley Council for their approach in highlighting such a complicated and important issue so touchingly.

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