With elections on the horizon, organisations are working hard on drafting memoranda that set out their policy priorities. But, how can you be certain that your memorandum doesn’t simply end up languishing in a drawer? How can you grab attention with your text? And, even better, how do you ensure press coverage? Bepublic Group supported the AUVB with its endeavours to send powerful policy priorities for nursing/medical staff out into the world.

A few months ago, the General Union of Belgian Nurses (AUVB) knocked on the door of the Bepublic Group. The healthcare sector has been under pressure for years, and the COVID pandemic made the situation even worse. Nurses are increasingly leaving the industry or taking sick leave, while the number of people needing care in our ageing population is set to continuously rise in the coming years. The AUVB stressed the importance of these challenges being tackled within the sector, for the sake of both nursing staff and society at large. The union had developed a comprehensive analysis and a list of concrete solutions but this was essentially a complex document with bullet points and masses of jargon. The document, therefore, had to be converted into a clear, interesting memorandum in three languages, which would catch the eye of politicians.

Challenge accepted! We got down to work for AUVB.

Step 1: Define the core message

What is the essence of the memorandum? The union had divided their memorandum into five chapters or policy priorities. This was a logical, subject-based system to which we stayed true to the end. Together, we reviewed the essential components of these chapters and selected five core messages. As a result, we ensured we were all on the same page and could move onto step 2.

Step 2: Simplify

Memos are often written by accomplished experts. People who know all the ins and outs of the sector. Interesting! But there are pitfalls, such as the constant use of complex jargon or endless explanations about details. Just because the expert understands it and finds it all equally interesting doesn’t mean the same is true for the reader. If you wish to communicate a message, you must simplify. This was also the case for the AUVB memorandum.

Step 3: Be creative

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to send ideas out into the world,” according to writer Robert McKee. Nursing staff are increasingly overtired and suffering from physical and mental health issues. We decided to let our storytelling method link into this message. We looked around for five nurses who could personify the five core messages. For the message “There is a need for good quality, uniform training”, for example, we sought out a student nurse who could testify to the problems with current training. The student nurse was a great reflection of the sector, along with the four other nurses from various backgrounds (home-care, residential care facility, emergency services and internal medicine).

Step 4: Think visual

We created portraits of the five nurses, using both text and images. Their portrait photos were taken in their working environments to stress the omnipresence of the issue. Their stories were contained within a medical folder along with their photos, symptoms (e.g. tiredness and tension headaches) and treatment (e.g. good quality internships and uniformity of training). We also made room on the document for the nurse to have their say and explain the treatment in full. The medical folders were used as the basis of the simplified memorandum and the press strategy.

Step 5: Launch the memorandum

We developed a press strategy with a clear press release to draw attention to the memorandum. The emergency folders allowed journalists to see the subject of the memorandum and who they could interview in the blink of an eye. We organised a press moment for AUVB in a hospital department that was closed due to nurse staffing shortages. The five nurses were present, as were the AUVB spokespersons and chair. The professional press, regional and national journalists attended and gave the message from the nurses the attention it deserved.

Would you like to launch your memorandum in a clear, creative and powerful manner?

Get to work using our advice or contact us to provide support: sofie.peeters@bepublicgroup.be.