Communicating to the public needs to be precise, strategized and have a clear goal. “Why are we writing this?” is perhaps the most important question, because the answer is not always the goal and if it doesn’t support the goal, it is a waste of money.
For example, a client of mine wanted me to write an article about an important rule change by their main government regulatory body, which affected how they reported their clients’ information to the government. They assigned it to me because they were quite alarmed at how detailed the information was and how it forced them to reveal information about their clients that (they felt) might be in violation of the clients’ privacy. They wanted an eloquent and short synopsis of the change, clear information that the client needed to know and then a soft, but conclusive opinion regarding their opposition. They wanted to put it on their website. Do you see the problem?
They have a nice website, but upon review of their analytics, 90% of the visitors go to the “contacts” page and the “about” page from the home page. This tells us that nobody will read this article and that it will have little-to-no value to anyone, particularly the company.
An article that is not read, has no goal.
I told them that this is actually four pieces, with four strategies, and a single goal. The goal is to present the company as an industry authority for important information and an advocate for the customer.
ALWAYS ASK THE 5-Ws
- What – Communicate a concern that affects your customers.
- When – Communicate now while the issue is fresh and before the rules kick in.
- Where – Communicate where your customers are.
- Who – Not JUST your customers, but also potential customers.
- How – This is the strategy.
FOUR PIECES, ONE GOAL
Article – Write the article like a piece you would see in a newspaper or magazine. Be sure to make it tightly accurate, using quotes from company executives and an outside authority figure that agrees with your position. Also, explain the situation to a client, ask them how they feel and ask them if it’s okay to put their quote in the article. A catchy seven-word headline is a must. Also, make sure the first paragraph is punchy and captures the reader. DO NOT sell anything or use marketing speak in any way.
Email – The subject line should reflect precisely how it affects the customer. “Help Us Protect Your Personal Information” is not as effective as, “Government Regulations Now Require Personal Client Information.” Alarming? Yes. But effective. Write a paragraph concisely relaying how it affects them, and then give a link to the full article. Keep an eye on click-through-rate, analytics and how long they spent on the article to determine effectiveness.
Industry Magazine – Pitch your article to industry magazines that affect your clients. Call the editors directly and get feedback. TAKE PHOTOS and submit them with descriptions of who or what the photo is and why it’s important to the article.
OP-ED – Do not be afraid to have an opinion. Companies with opinions that help their customers make them the authority and draw customers to them. Pitch newspapers and go as far as pitching an interview with a news corporation. Backlash can happen, which gives strength to your message, but DON’T ENGAGE CONFRONTATION. Be support for your industry lobbying body and industry representatives. Be an advocate and point toward those working on your industry’s behalf. This is an opinion, allow the industry representatives to present talking points.
COMMUNICATE FOR GROWTH
The last thing you want in this age of transparency is your customers asking why they weren’t informed by you. They should like and trust your company and be amenable to this type of communication. If they don’t, well, communication needs to be a larger part of your budget.
Once you have experienced the success of open and forward communication, you will see that this is a large element to being an industry leader. It will help the company have a clear voice and set goals and policy for all parts of your organization, both internally and externally. It will also make you money.