50 Shades of Policy Change

palette
I started this blog because it was a requirement for my doctoral program at Walden University. But then something funny happened: I discovered that it was a wonderful way for me to share what I was learning in a more creative and playful way than writing research papers!

I have always enjoyed writing in a variety of styles. Learning about and experimenting with blogging and other social media platforms has added new colors to the palette I use to communicate with people about issues of importance. And because I believe that when people understand the big issues, they will join in the efforts to change policies, being able to communicate in multi-hued ways seems paramount to making the world a better place for children and families.

Like all genres of writing, blogging must adhere to basic tenets of communication in order to be effective. Mind Tools (n.d.) identifies these as the “7 C’s of communication.” One must be clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete and courteous.

Some of these flow naturally from a lifetime of reading and writing academic works. I am careful about both fact checking and grammar checking (the C of correctness). I spend time making my messages organized and coherent. I work at giving all the information necessary to understand an issue (completeness) and because I genuinely respect my readers, whether they are professors, or teachers, or parents of preschoolers, I am courteous.

What has intrigued me about blogging, as well as other forms of social media communication, is that I am challenged by the first three C’s: ensuring that my messages are clear, concise, and concrete. Part of this has to do with the potentially diverse readership when one splashes ideas out to the blogosphere.

I have wrestled, for example, about using the term “substance use disorder,” even though research stresses that using this term, (as opposed to “addiction” or “alcoholism” or “drug abuse”) is an important strategy to shift the paradigm about how we view the disease. I am passionate about wanting to end the stigma associated with the affliction and believe this is necessary to effect change for children and families impacted by it. But while professionals in the treatment and recovery fields are beginning to use the term, few in education have ever heard it. Where do clarity and social change intersect in this case?

Being concise has never been a strong point for me. Social media has made me revisit this. I consider how much time I give to reading a blog, or a Facebook post, even when I am very interested in it. I think then of digital natives, who were raised to point, click, and scroll their way quickly through ideas. Although I still struggle with this, I make an effort to be more brief and concise in my social media writing. I believe this has positively impacted my writing in other venues, as well.

One of the most powerful things about social media is the way that imagery is used to communicate ideas and to inspire emotions. I have discovered that using found or created visual images not only makes my blog more interesting and accessible, but also focuses my attention on using more concrete examples and images in my writing.

I believe that my academic writing and blogging on the same policy topics have begun to inform each other. I look forward to seeing how both will influence the way I approach more traditional ways of communicating with policy makers, such as letters to the editor and white papers. With such a rich and vibrant palette of communication tools, we can surely paint a better tomorrow for children, their families, and the teachers who support them.

Mind Tools. (n.d.). The 7 Cs of communication: A checklist for clear communication. Retrieved April 9, 2015, from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCS_85.htm

12 thoughts on “50 Shades of Policy Change

  1. Stephanie,
    What a great post! The information you shared was well organized and your vocabulary was very engaging. The 7 Cs that you shared were interesting and made me reflect on my personal experience involving my communication skills. I have a tendency to ramble, so when you mentioned being concise I had to laugh and think that was my area for improvement. This class has helped me develop my writing skills through the consistent expectations regarding clear and concise writing. I agree with you when you said that this class has encouraged you to use your blogging skills, I feel more comfortable with this method of communication and how to continue to use this form of social media. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    Randi

  2. Dear Stephanie,
    You have valuable information for me in your blog. The 7 C’s is a great checklist for communicating in emails and letters. For communication in social media to affect social change, I decided to add an 8th C. That is “Consistency”. I find that to argue a concept requiring the change of people’s minds on large issues takes time and consistency of thought and communication.
    Dan

    • I completely agree, Dan! Consistency is critical in social media messaging and maybe we need to add a 9th C for this: CONSTANT! In addition to sharing a consistent message, because of the way the analytics of social media work, sharing a consistent message just occasionally ends up being as unproductive as sharing scattered messages frequently, because: no one sees it!
      I was actually just thinking of this as I was posting something on multiple Facebook pages that I have set up. Because I have two consistent early childhood issues that I post about: play and early childhood social-emotional development/mental health, people associate me, and my pages, with these topics. They share, discuss, and advocate for these issues in these spaces, and also on my personal page. I have many interests, both in early childhood and life. But I would bet that more people would say: Stephanie is the play person, because of my focus and advocacy on this topic on social media.
      Great point! Thank you!
      Stephanie
      Stephanie

  3. Hello Stephanie,
    you did a great job explaining the importance of being concise in this post. Speaking of Facebook, it has made me become more conscious of what I am reading, posting, and replying to. Overall, I think social media is great. It has allowed me to stay connected to friends and colleagues. It has also given me information about news and important current events. Great job

    • Thank you, Natasha! I do love Facebook, although I just deactivated my account temporarily so I can focus on finishing the semester without all those additional ideas and friends! 🙂 I am already missing it (it’s been 1/2 hour!)
      Stephanie

  4. Glorie Great Post! I also used the same resource explaining the 7 C’s of writing. I think is very important to be concise and clear when writing or speaking. It is important to get the message across in the manner you are presenting it.

  5. Bravo! Stephanie,
    As always you have shared some very valuable information with your colleagues. I am planning to become very familiar with your 7C’s of communication in an effort to increase my communication skills. I have also become pretty versatile when it comes to sharing my policy issue and I am sure that this is due to the continuing discussions that I have been able to participate in throughout my courses at Walden.

    Angela

  6. Hey Stephanie

    I loved your blog and post. You are so right about blogs are more fun then research papers. You shared some very important information in regards to the 7’Cs of communication. I think we all found value in them in reading the article, probably should be a poster. lol We should all try to apply these concepts to our lives. Especially in our school work and professional careers. Thanks for sharing!

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