How do you give an overused subject a new lease of life? By turning it into an infographic...
by Dave Musson
I’ll admit, I’ve been in love with infographics for quite some time. Staring at a chart packed full of funky colours and showing just how many fossil fuels Justin Bieber is likely to outlive was depressing but also fantastic; what a cool way of representing data!
From that point on, I’ve been desperate to make a decent infographic about something Council-related, but had never quite created something completely satisfying. Something was lacking and I couldn’t pinpoint what... until I realised the answer was, as it has been for so much of my local government career, gritting.
An infographic about gritting. Of course!
The idea came about at the editorial meeting for the Winter edition of our quarterly residents’ mag; we obviously wanted to put in the usual message about gritting – along with a plug for the #WMgrit campaign – but there was only so much more recycling of previous articles I could attempt.
‘How about an infographic instead?’ I asked.
‘Sure’ I was told.
It was as easy as that.
I started planning and quickly set upon something taking inspiration from the posters for the film ‘True Grit’, which helped set out a clear brief for our photographer, who did an absolutely fantastic job of making the volunteers from our gritting look like the Hollywood heroes they are.
Once we had the image, the rest fell into place easily – I broke my usual article into small chunks, and worked with out designer to add some icons and work it into the final piece.
And then we put it in our residents’ magazine. Just like that.
Well, not really just like that. Obviously I wrote a boring, editorial version of the article as a backup in case our creativity wasn’t appreciated, and our photographer got some shots that were less Coen Brothers and more Council services, but we didn’t need them. Senior officers loved the graphic and that was that, job done!
In fact, it’s been so popular we also put it in our monthly staff mag and have shared it on our social media channels, where it seems to be quite popular.
Lessons learned here? If you want to try an infographic, just go for it. Also, gritting crews LOVE posing like they’re in a film poster!
This humble graphic also gives me extra reason to smile, as it’s my parting gift to local government before I start in a new role in Higher Education in the New Year. Having spent years trying to convince everyone just how great gritting is, hopefully this little piece of creativity with give it some street cred.
Dave Musson is a communications officer with Solihull Council.