UN loosing its UK voice despite great cause for the elderly

Blog Post 11 October 2017

This post is about a United Nations event, with aims that impact every day on our older people, but first some thoughts from my previous career in marketing . . .

Our media man once quoted an article to me and it went something like this: “At its core, public relations revolves around this universal truth – people act based upon their perception of facts.” I agree.
Those ‘facts’ can be vectored in a multiplicity of ways enabling them to have a credible voice. 

Social media (Facebook is free if used wisely and is the biggest platform of its kind in the world), Public Relations, events, advertising, leaflets, newsletters, networking, eventing, content marketing, drama and artistic displays . . . the list for such a get–it-out-there job can be as large as our imagining and restricted only by the lack of creativity.

Think ‘Pimp Your Zimmer’ to help stop falls with the elderly and the viral effect of its marketing with West Midlands Care Association.

Programmes for lines of communication are central to any cause, business or campaign and when those in public relations successfully create, change, or reinforce opinion through persuasion, their primary objective is accomplished.
The science of marketing and the creativity that it can fire has always intrigued me. In fact, before working in the care sector, I worked in this field.

With any good marketing, it’s essential to give the audience what they need to hear, rather that what they want to hear, and good marketing will welcome the input of critics, which brings me to the point of this post.

At the start of the month, we came across the International Day of Older Persons 2017 (IDOP). We found the event completely by accident after we received a call from one of our partner organisations asking if we were aware of it.
After a bit of googling we found that it was a United Nations initiative, the theme was “Stepping into the Future:Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.”

More than a mouthful, I know, but the day had some fantastic goals, such as enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities and societies at large.

The first Older Persons’ Day was launched October 1, 1998 at the United Nations HQ in New York. With an array of speakers Albania, Belgium, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Panama and Slovenia took part.
The UN must have one of the biggest media budgets available, and with this foremost in my thinking, I have a question: Why has it taken 10 years for us to hear anything about it, especially when the IDOP has some goals we’d embrace enthusiastically?

For instance: “This year’s theme underscores the link between tapping the talents and contributions of older persons . . . 

“Stepping into the future with pledges that no one will be left behind, it is starkly evident that the need to tap into the often overlooked and under-appreciated contributions of older persons is not only essential to older persons’ well-being, but also imperative for sustainable development processes . . .

“The 2017 theme will explore effective means of promoting and strengthening the participation of older persons in various aspects of social, cultural, economic and civic and political life.”
Other objectives included:
•    Enabling conditions/measures that influence the readiness of older persons to participate including securing healthcare, regular income, legal protection and access to financial services.
•    Pathways/means to facilitate contributions and participation in old age, including technology, education and lifelong learning, access to information, as well as overcoming barriers that exclude or discriminate against older persons.
I know these website quotes are all a bid ‘wordy’ and hard to digest quickly, but the content is good.

October 1 has been and gone and the association and its members have missed an opportunity to piggy-back some marketing possibilities on to this event.

The United Nations seems a long way off and its IDOP web resources documents/links are heavy going. If only we can cut through the ‘UN speak’, the international political agendas and feel part of what this special day is trying to achieve, maybe more of its important messages would find grassroots traction in the UK.

To achieve that, however, it means the UN needs to adopt a seriously dumbed-down marketing approach and some better research as to whom may wish to embrace its causes.

The IDOP website landing page informs of prevalent ageism attitudes and the needs to step into a future that fully appreciates the talents and contributions of our older people.

For me this fast-growing people group is the jewel in society’s crown.
In the slim hope that anyone connected to the UN may actually read this blog, I’d ask: Please don’t ignore us. Associations like ours – there are many in the UK – are the single biggest representative body in the care sector, dealing daily with the very people whom you wish to empower.
This event in the UK should have had a loud voice, but sadly I hear only a whisper.