Tell them what they want to hear

Communication is a big-ticket item in most organisations. How should we communicate this message, where should we communicate it, will they read it .. all common questions.Remove any ideas about significant change management where the communication problem amplifies, let’s look at day-to-day comms in organisations, let’s look at the gloriously undervalued employee newsletter. Newsletters should have lots of meaningful pictures, short summaries about the article and then a link to further information. People will select what they want to read and read on if they want to.

When designing our communications strategy (including newsletters) why don’t we tell people what they want to hear? There is a big gap between what we want employees to know and what they actually care about.

When I say what they want to hear. What I mean is crafting the message so it fits into what matters most to them. Use your engagement survey to get this information. If not, you could try this amazing idea called talking to people – cutting edge, I know! I could guess that all employees care about anything to do with their pay, changes to operations (that impact them), and any benefits they can get for free (that they value). It’s about filtering your content through the What’s In It For Me looking-glass.

This isn’t a new idea – this is how news stories work. Commercial news stories are developed to hook in to what matters to you. News stories run with the themes of fear, self-improvement, danger and cute animal stories at the end. So to circle back – commercial media is clever because they know what it takes to ensure you don’t change the station. You need to think this way in your communications. Now, I am contrasting video media and written comms here but the message is the same. Write for what your audience wants to hear and make it fit that model.

Most of this time the development of newsletters will sit with HR or if you are lucky you have an internal comms person. This is one of those times where HR practitioners need to look beyond the scope of their HR skills and delve into advertising and design principles. You can’t continue to write for an audience that doesn’t exist – you’re employees do not care about what you have to tell them, they care about what it important to them.

I will continue to muse over this in the coming year…

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