For the last 16 years, I’ve enjoyed life on both sides of the communications fence.
As an agency editor and copywriter, I’ve worked with blue chip clients, churning out all sorts of comms materials for their customers – from emails and advertising guff, through to product brochures and full-blown magazines.
As a magazine editor, most recently on BL in the Channel Islands, I’m at the receiving end of comms – deluged on a daily basis by agencies and firms who have a message they need to get out into the wider world.
We live in an age when everyone has something to say – we’re drowning in press releases, white papers, blogs and so-called ‘thought leadership’ pieces (a phrase that is guaranteed to have me reaching for the ‘delete’ button).
In writing this short note, I asked myself what I thought the most important thing about comms was. And I guess it comes down to two things – keeping it simple, and relationships.
The simplicity is the easy part. The most effective comms are clear, concise and make their point without endless waffle, PR spin or – the cardinal sin – a lorry load of jargon. If you had to cut things back to just one message, what would it be? What is the main point of your press release? What is the main benefit of your product to your customers?
The relationships part isn’t quite as easy.
For firms sending out comms to customers, there’s a danger that constantly bombarding them with emails, tweets and direct mail is guaranteed to turn them off, especially if it’s not relevant to them. And, in my view, if you spend more time telling them how great you are, than you do telling them why something matters to them, then you’re doomed. It’s all well and good saying that you need to ‘know your customer’, but then you need to communicate with them in a way that shows you do.
And for firms, including agencies, who want to get publicity in the press, it’s a similar message. Don’t bombard a newspaper, magazine or website with endless press releases and then moan when they haven’t been included. Build up a relationship with each publication, find out what they are interested in, and the subject they cover, and who is the right person to send it to. That way, you’re more likely to end up with the result you were after.
Nick Kirby is Editor-in-Chief of Business Life Global magazine. Nick’s chosen to donate to ‘Give Gracie A Voice‘. This is a justgiving page set up to raise funds for specialist therapy with The Family Hope Center for a girl named Gracie, who suffers from Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy.