Journalists like me tend to love community because we are natural super connectors and networkers. In other words we are generally nosey!
However our profession has showed us all that the best stories are about people – and come from people.
But what is community? In PR terms we all have multiple communities that we choose to belong to: our families, the street where we live, the town where we live, the county where we live, the country where we live, our clients, suppliers, contacts, customers, those with whom we share mutual interests. Our communities will change as we go through life as well. We may belong to a community for new parents, parents of teenagers, people who are childless, people who are childfree, people who grandparents, people who are adopted, fostered or brought up in care. We gravitate to multiple communities throughout life and dependent upon our circumstances.
The power of your community is astonishing. I never cease to be amazed of it. When I was a teenager I had a boyfriend who always used to say, over and over again, ‘one person cannot change the world, one person cannot make a difference’. This used to bother me then, now I know for sure, as it’s been evidenced over and over again that this is patently untrue. Everyone can make a difference even if we do so with small actions or incrementally. Surely the pandemic has showed us that very fact. I often educate people who say to me things like, ‘I want to be in the national press, local is not important to me’ and frankly that’s absurd in most cases. You may think the local press has no value, until you start to see how being visible can change the game for you in many subtle and powerful ways. Local is THE MOST important part of the media for businesses and individuals.
We tend to be brought together by ‘types’ of communities, and there are five recognised different types: –
- Interest – brought about by shared interest or passion
- Action- brought about by trying to make change
- Place – brought about by geographical boundaries
- Practice – undertaking the same profession or activities
- Circumstance – brought together by external events /situations
Let’s explore those in more detail. Here are 13 types of community we might belong to:
- The community where we live: this year and last, it has become more and more important we have a role in our geographical area, even down to the street where we live. During Covid19, many communities have taken on a caring role for elderly neighbours making sure they are safe; shopping for people who have had to self-isolate or shield, and taking people for health appointments.
- The county-community where we live: the wider geographical community, in business a goal may be to think about where your customers are coming from. Is it a 5km radius, 10km radius or further? You will find that I often use the hashtag #swindon and #wiltshire as both are my community.
- Community relating to your expertise: being seen as relevant and valid amongst your peers. A ‘go to’ to person in PR for example – have a look at my LinkedIN for some testimonials about me – https://www.linkedin.com/in/thefionascott/_ – Someone who is credible and knowledgeable and able to mentor younger people in that business community.
- Community relating to a hobby: many of us have a hobby or interestthat we involve ourselves in and enjoy in our spare time, such as; sewing, cooking, wine-making, or crafts etc.
- Community relating to a passion: where we share political or religious beliefs, or we enjoy a particular style of music, are involved in sports or belong to a book club.
- Community relating to a one-off project or circumstance: this is where a temporary community is established, eg. sewing scrubs for the NHS or being part of Forgotten Ltd, in my case.
- Community relating to your own business: can you bring people to you, based around your expertise, particularly online. This provides very powerful business opportunities and links, too. Here’s mine if you fancy joining me – https://www.facebook.com/groups/162841034317598
- Community relating to membership of business groups or bodies: these could be a trade body, a professional organisation, or a networking group.
- Community relating to shared health issues: where people can bond, sharing their stories and problems with others in the same situation or experiencing the same symptoms, or supporting others such as diabetes; endometriosis; cancer in all of its forms; or perhaps food allergies or intolerances.
- Communities wanting to make a change: members of groups locally or across the world linked to such things as Climate change or involvement with ECO projects, Sustainability – issues affecting us globally. Or, communities who support particular charities.
- Identity communities: People who identify with specific communities, such as LGBTq+, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, where people who sometimes feel marginalised, find support and empathy with like-minded communities.
- Friendship communities: you will probably have different friendship groups too, based on those who you do activities with, and those who you attend more cultural events with.
- Online communities: social media is a major part of most peoples’ lives, particularly if you are in business. This is a place where you can build global communities, if you choose, just at the stroke of a few keys.Even if you aren’t in business, during lockdown, many of the online communities have supported people in feeling less alone. And the online community aligns with our interests in the real world – the only difference is that the communities have potential to be much, much bigger.
Finally, we are, generally all part of multiple communities and that all makes life interesting in life – and in business. Communities, being part of them and building them makes fantastic business sense:
“The richest people in the world build networks; everyone else is trained to look for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki
*In next month’s blogs I’ll be answering some questions you’ve been asking around ‘what is PR?’.