Vox pop

Not content with making jam and singing Jerusalem, the Women’s Institute is repositioning to appeal to the ‘Bridget Jones generation’. What, apart from posing naked for calendars (as the enterprising Rylstone branch famously did), should the WI do to upda

‘Any organisation that has the capacity to make Tony Blair quake has to be doing something right. But central to the problem of repositioning is the question of relevance. Organisations like WI provide a supplement to the traditional position of women, but busy Bridget Jones crosses all boundaries, so what relevance does the WI now have? Solve that, and you’ve got it cracked.’

Alex Wood, Founder, The Holmes Wood Consultancy

‘I have never come into contact with the WI and yet I come from a family full of women and went to an all-girl’s school. I went to the WI website, hit the activities button and found “craft, recipes, sport, science and community” on offer. The current image is very strait-laced. The quicker they ditch the Bridget Jones’ “safety knickers attitude”, the better.’

Amelia Noble, Partner, Kerr Noble

‘The institute does not seem to have any relevancy for today’s “chicklit” generation. It needs to position itself as more urban, younger and glamorous, and convey that it can bring women together around shared social interests and lifestyles. It needs to communicate directly to today’s women via the mass media that women consume. High profile spokeswomen like JK Rowling and Paula Radcliffe would give it credibility.’

Desirée Collier, Head of creative, Capital Radio

‘The WI is an organisation that I’m vaguely glad is there, but which reminds me of a bygone era. And, well, institutes. Changing its name would obviously give the repositioning a kick start. Its role is important and, ironically, very much in the “zeitgeist” of citizenship and community support in today’s uncertain age. Er…Women in the Community, perhaps?’

Rita Clifton, Chairman, Interbrand

‘Its website is as good a place as any to start. For a dynamic organisation, it’s a disappointingly flat website. The website needs to start an active dialogue with and between WI members. A forum, archived by theme, would build into a fascinating and unique knowledge database – and allow it to find out what it really needs to change to reach a new audience.’

Su Sareen, Creative director, Lateral

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