Saturday, 28 February 2015

Dear Management: Your Communications Suck!









The Employee speaks:

 
I neither have the time nor the etiquette to break this to you delicately, so here it goes:

 

Your communications suck!



Everything about them is dismal - the email overload; the intrusive memos; the irrelevant surveys; the rambling speeches; the uninspiring website/social media content; the numerous, inconsequential meetings; etc. - they all drain my time, disrupt my work and negate my perception of your effectiveness.



And I am not alone with this opinion. Other colleagues have realised that someone has to spell it out for you so that you would 'get' it.




What you need to 'get' is that your communications do not add any value to your operations or our work; neither do they address our wellbeing in your company. As a result, we have become disengaged and 'tuned off' in our duties. We are unhappy in our roles, unfulfilled in our functions and some of us have secretly begun to apply to your competitors for more meaningful jobs.




Having worked for you for a couple of years, I am surprised at your continued cluelessness. You are unaware that you aren’t rated highly and that your staff doesn’t feel ‘emotionally attached’ to the company.




Something needs to be done.




To keep us productive in our jobs, you will need to tackle these issues:





1) Your content 



There are many things that you, the Management, cannot control - the weather, a  slow economy, regulatory policies, etc. -  but the content you produce is not one of those things. 



This means that before you embark on a grand culture overhaul, an ambitious re- branding initiative or any other project, you’ll first need to identify the goals you want to achieve with your communications, then carefully select your content. 



Thereafter, ask yourselves one crucial question:



“What type of information would our employees care about?”



Note that unless the content adds value to my work, or addresses specific issues, or clarifies some ambiguity about your policies or strategies, I wouldn't care about it.




And neither would the others.



It wouldn't matter what bells and whistles you use or how often you harp on about your plans.



If the content isn’t useful, easily understood and delivered in a timely manner, then don't bother.




Really don't.



I am already sufficiently stressed in my role juggling multiple assignments and I don't appreciate your cronies, (aka executives), interrupting my workflow with meaningless babble or pretentious pieces.






Also, why don’t you use simple, clear language in all your communications? Eliminate your annoying management-speak which makes your executives the brunt of all our jokes. You can be sure that we won't take them seriously.
   




2) Sharing your content 



You probably read somewhere that the almighty email is the most desired method of communication. 



But please stop emailing us multiple times a week!  



The information overload is ridiculous!




While there may be  valuable tools to assess the effectiveness of your communications, simple actions also make a difference.



For example, providing the contact details of the designated executives allows us to quickly get clarifications.




Placing bullet points on notice boards, using the intranet, and encouraging information transfer via cloud-based systems, (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), are also useful ways of getting our attention without being a nuisance.



Free or low-cost internal social networks such as Thinbox and Yammer add a fun element to collaboration, so include them in your communication arsenal.








When your initiatives are significant and scheduled to run for a considerable period, you should become creative with the format of your content. Use images, videos, audio, etc.




Pique our interest and coax our participation by once again making all your  information relevant. It will a bonus if you could highlight how our desired contributions will lead to the company's successes. We all want to be part of something meaningful.




Do these things and even a sceptic like me will be won over because I will clearly see the benefits of supporting your plans.


 

3) Your spokespeople 


You have often chosen the wrong people to communicate to your employees and to handle your initiatives.




Previous spokespeople although knowledgeable about their duties, weren't likeable. In fact, they were downright condescending. Not surprisingly, they lacked leadership skills and failed to inspire.



Being likeable is important because I am more inclined to trust an executive I like than one who appears aloof or arrogant.







Of course trust is gradually built over time by observing whether Mr. A's speeches consistently match his actions.




I will concede however that charisma and likeability are not enough.




It is also imperative that the spokesperson has regular training in media relations, as well as crisis communications drills.




Inside the organisation, the (likeable) spokesperson should be approachable, articulate, calm, and a reliable source of information. No cryptic messages or vague explanations please.




For external contacts, the spokesperson must be poised, credible and skilled in giving factual, timely feedback.




If you cannot find a worthy candidate in-house dear Management, then please recruit from external sources.



But be assured that I would neither waste my time nor my energies on your executives whose weak interpersonal attributes, lacklustre communication skills and incompetence actually impede commitment to your organisation.  







Conclusion



So Management, despite my gloomy tone, I actually want to see you connect more with your staff. I do understand your vision and I 'get' your passion.





Nonetheless, should you want us to work together to achieve goals we both understand and appreciate, you’ll need to communicate more effectively by:



1) Developing content which adds value to your employees' work and addresses stated concerns. Content should also inspire;


2) Using creative methods to distribute content in simple, clear language, whilst remaining relevant;


3) Selecting competent, likeable professionals with managerial potential to handle communications in the organisation. Provide regular media and crisis management training for them as well.





Do these things and you needn't worry about dwindling productivity or a reduced commitment to key projects or talented staff leaving in droves. 




But change you must!




Kindly post your comments below, anonymously if you prefer.



Don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:

 
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Recommended reading









Need help in writing?
 
Hire me for a writing assignment, some consulting work and/or coaching sessions in formal writing and communications.
  

Contact me by: 


A) Sending a direct email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com 


B) Calling for advice and a  free  consultation:

Nigeria:               0704 631 0592 
International:     +234 704 631 0592  



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N.B –  First and second images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net. Third image courtesy of Cuteimage; via freedigitaphotos.net. Fourth image courtesy of Ddpavumba; via freedigitalphotos.net. Last image courtesy of Fotographic1980; via freedigitalphotos.net.




Thursday, 29 January 2015

Leveraging Business Content For Brand Dominance










Here's an ominous prediction: Without good content, your brand is dead.

 

Or dying.




Or on its way to its imminent demise.




Take a look at your favourite brand and you will notice one constant. But you will first need to strip away the 'hard sells' such as the glossy magazines, shiny billboards, fun radio jingles and creative television advertisements, before you get to that eureka moment.




And in that moment the constant becomes clear:



Successful businesses are good storytellers. 



They tell stories in different ways using different types of content. Content could be white papers, podcasts, infographics, blog articles, images, graphics, videos and tutorials. 



Content could also be emotive, educative, inspiring, humorous or entertaining.



When done the right way, content persuades, or even compels action. The action could be you buying a product, signing up for a service, giving favourable reviews/recommendations, sharing that great content to  your social media networks or saving the information for future use. You do these things because subconsciously, you feel that you 'owe' the brand.







And naturally, brands want you to have more of those instances whereby you strengthen their reputations by spreading their well-crafted communications.




Even if your company operates in a 'serious' sector such as oil exploration/production, manufacturing  or biotechnology, you  could  still  make  your content memorable.




One way to do this is to develop a unique 'tone' for your communications. This makes your brand interesting, clearly distinguishing it from the pack.




Yet nothing would be worse than spending considerable time and resources creating superb content which has little or no positive impact on the business because you failed to promote it effectively.




So herein lies the dilemma -  creating  the type of content that would best represent your brand and serve your customers, ('the What'); and using the right methods/tools via which that content is disseminated to your audience for greater visibility and action, ('the How').




Addressing these two components, which form a larger six-component communications strategywould help your brand become a key player in your field. 





Choosing the right content: 'The What'







So what should your skilled communications professionals and content creators  produce as content? 




Firstly, decide whether content should follow the PESO modelpaid, earned, sponsored or owned.
  


Once that is sorted, resist churning out content faster than your audience can comprehend, let along retain. Instead, be clear about what you want it to achieve for your brand.  




Thereafter, take the two actions below to help frame the creative process: 




1) Find out what your customers/clients and other stakeholder groups want solved, such as what their greatest pain points are 



Conduct surveys, check your customer complaint logs and ask questions. Know what your consumers require from your brand and try to add value to their lives.  With time, you will be seen as trustworthy. The knowledge you glean from  conversing  with your audience  will become ample fodder for your business content.
 



2) Check out your competitors and other industry leaders but develop your own content plan 



Use Rival IQ to spy on your rivals' tactics in the digital space.



Or spy on those you admire in your field.


Or on those longest in the game.


Check out what they have been doing, how they got it right and learn from their mistakes.


Browse through their websites; 'follow' them on social media; and take a peek at their blogs. Yes, the bigwigs not only have company blogs but have evolved their content to amplify their brands. For inspiration, check out the 10 best company blogs in the world.



Then go develop a content plan whereby you use specific content that not only addresses the concerns of your followers but also provokes emotions, thereby encouraging them to take action. 



Remember that at the heart of a strong message is a good story.



Thus, strengthen your storytelling by mixing up different types of content. Remember that content could be videos, podcasts, e-books, etc.



Images are particularly powerful when incorporated with text. Copyblogger  provides very useful information about the eight types of visuals  that increase the psychological impact of your content, as well as where to find and create them. Therefore, boost your content with images and once again, make it informative, clever, homourous or entertaining.





Spreading/promoting the right content: 'The How'







Once you have decided on the type of content to promote, you will need to find out the best way to get that great story out to your audience using appropriate methods and tools. This development, whereby specific content is distributed to different stakeholders to fulfill defined business goals, in a nutshell is what  content marketing  entails.




Some basic advice for content marketing:



 - Share your varied content in your social media accounts and engage with your followers in 'real' time or use a scheduling tool such as Sprout Social.



 -  Have a content calender to ensure a steady stream of content and launch contests, freebies, rewards, etc. (This is particularly popular with social media content).






The Mention software is also a helpful tool for actively monitoring your brand on the web to gain insights on how to improve its performance.



 - Include a blog to your website to coax sales, conversions or to boost brand relevance.



There is also a wealth of information on content marketing on Twitter. Using the hashtag #ContentMarketing, you will find valuable articles about creating and compiling content, as well as advice for marketing your communications to grow your business.  




But do more with social media...










...Because brands in this digital age are using technology to create a more interesting experience for customers.




Social media opens up a lot of opportunities for those receptive to digital tools. (If your company is yet to embrace social media, you need to seriously rethink its longevity in your field).




It is now not enough to have 'responsive websites' which are optimised for ease of navigation for mobile phone consumers, or to ensure that social media 'share' or 'follow' buttons are included on every page of your website.




Savvy brands know that having a good social media strategy is necessary for maximising its benefits to their businesses, as well for justifying the investments of time and money required. In this infographic, Visual.ly gives tips on defining your social media goals, deciding the metrics required for measuring those goals, developing specific actions and executing your strategy. Take their advice seriously.




Experts also recommend incorporating social media with PR and email marketing.




Even if you are a small business owner, you could still embrace suggestions made about social media on a smaller scale. Some believe that in just 15 minutes a day, you could accelerate your social media portfolio and create an impact with your content.
 





Conclusion



If you are passionate about your company, this post would hopefully have given you some ideas about how to leverage your brand's well-crafted content to dominate its niche. 



What is important to note is that nothing beats passion for your brand.



 Nothing.











Therefore, carefully select the communications professionals who will craft and manage your corporate storytelling. Give them the required support and the autonomy to passionately execute the vision for your brand in creative ways.  





Key nuggets from this post:



 - Developing your unique 'tone' in your communications and engaging with your audience differentiates your brand from the pack;




 - Choosing the right type of content that resonates with your audience, ('The What'), whilst keeping tabs on your competitors, makes your brand trusted in its field;



- Using appropriate methods/tools for distributing the content, in addition to content marketing tactics, ('The How'), puts you on the right track towards brand relevance in your industry;




- Developing an effective social media strategy allows you make a greater impact with your content. 





The desirable outcome?



Your brand will be vetted and promoted by your employees/consumers/partners/clients, thereby growing your business.



And you will never look back.




Advance and go wow them all with your business content!  



Now it's your turn! How have you used content to amplify your brand?   Kindly post your comments below, anonymously if you prefer. 




Recommended reading


Boosting Corporate Reputations With Effective Communications 
 



Don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:  


1) Share this article in your social media networks by clicking on the icons at the left side of the post or below. 


2) Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Never miss an article again!
   


Need help in crafting your business content?  



I am here to help. Hire me for a writing assignment, some consulting work and/or coaching sessions in communications.  


Contact me by:  


A) Sending a direct email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com


B) Calling for advice and a free consultation:

Nigeria:                0704 631 0592

International:      +234 704 631 0592  



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N.B-  All images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net.