Technology has made it easier to communicate. But with a number of channels, it can leave communicators unsure which tool to use. PR professional Stevie Brown has five suggestions to ensure your key messages get through
Delivering effective communications doesn’t need to be complicated, in fact, more often than not, the more simplistic it is the more effective it becomes.
The principles are simple; be honest, transparent and timely. All too often comms fall short because the focus is on the channel rather than the content. It really all comes down to one thing; relevance. Is your message relevant to your brand and audience?
Irrespective of the channel or technology used – keep it simple. Intelligent people like to make things overly complex. Avoid jargon and excessively flowery language and write it as if you would speak it. Thomas Jefferson said it better than most: “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” When choosing your channels, pick the platforms that your target audience is already engaged with.
Measure and evaluate how social you are
For many, social media is seen as a disposable channel, where messages can be posted and forgotten. It is however one of the most valuable methods of communicating thanks to its strong capacity for audience analysis. It is this analysis which will allow you to measure how relevant your brand is to your customers’ lives. According to the Barcelona Principals, set by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, social media can and should be measured consistently with other media channels. Measurement must focus on engagement, “conversation” and “communities” not just “coverage” or vanity metrics such as “likes”.
Photos and videos
Photography is important and can often make a press story, so don’t cut costs or corners. Pay for a professional photographer. And stay clear of giant cheques. If you have a restaurant or attraction business, make sure there are people in your pictures enjoying themselves. A busy restaurant is the universal barometer of a good restaurant, so why take a picture of it empty? Video is now an accessible and affordable way of communicating with your stakeholders. You often don’t need a film crew, a smartphone on a stable mount can be enough to strengthen the delivery of your message. According to digital marketing specialists HubSpot, adding a video to marketing e-mails can boost click-through rates by 200-300%.
We can all learn from poorly handled corporate crises like Ryanair’s last year. Bad news travels fast, and Ryanair took too long to respond which drew out the bad news over days and resulted in prolonged negative publicity. Had they got all of the bad news announced at once and reacted quicker, the chances are the media and public’s response would have been more forgiving.
Have a crisis management plan, irrespective of how small or big your business is
When things go wrong you need to react quickly. If you don’t have the resources inhouse, it is worth looking into appointing an external agency to deal with your crisis comms, the expertise they bring is invaluable, and often because they are less emotionally connected they can manage the situation better.
Finally, always be honest and avoid spin, people can see through it, and if your audience think you are trying to mislead them you lose their trust, irrespective of what tech or channel you use.