If you want to communicate with your employees (or other audiences) in a way that gets your message heard, please print out today’s post, call a meeting, and read this out loud – and then take action to reclaim your position as influential leader.
This speech condenses many of the insights I gleaned from Steve and Cindy Crescenzo’s masterclass at the Public Relations Institute national conference in the Barossa Valley yesterday.
And while today’s post is based in an internal communications scenario, the principles should apply to all your communication efforts.
I have gathered you all in one place today so I can apologise to you face-to-face.
I’m sorry if I have bored you to tears.
I’m sorry if I have subjected you to death by PowerPoint (or insert newsletters, magazines, emails, etc) as I communicated critical issues such as the System Ps:
I’m sorry if I did not respect you enough to care whether my messages were interesting or appetising to YOU.
I’m sorry if I did not Keep It Simple Stupid and respect myself or my messages enough to push harder to find interesting ways to present them.
I’m sorry if I ASSUMED I had engaged your interest and attention without actually CHECKING.
Most of all, I am sorry at how much energy I wasted and how much of OUR time I wasted hurling thunder bolts at you from up high, and then grumbling at how hard it was to get you all to fall into line.
My pledge to you: I will EARN your attention
See those magazines at the supermarket checkout?
Notice how they grab your attention and draw you in with intriguing headlines and promises?
Our messages are just as important as three ways to lose fat without exercise, so I will put the effort into proving that to you.
In fact, from this day forward, the buck stops with ME if you don’t find our company communications interesting!
And be prepared to be in the spotlight because I finally understand that getting your stories and reactions to issues and events is much more interesting to the rest of the team than having me drone on with my business jargon.
My pledge to you: I will LISTEN to your opinions
Have you ever left a review on a website or clicked LIKE on Facebook?
Ever done a short, online survey?
I will make sure all our intranet content makes it easy for you to rate what you see and give feedback too.
And I will look at the results and make changes accordingly.
Heck, we’ll let the public rate our website content too.
If something is not working, I will work with you to find a way that will work.
If something can be done better, I will listen to your ideas and make changes that help us get results.
My goal is to cut the communications that are not working so that I can concentrate more energy and resources into the communications that are.
My pledge to you: I will reward COURAGE
Please don’t think for a minute these changes will come easily.
What I’m promising you today scares the living daylights out of me.
But the stakes are high.
I need you to be clear about
- our organisation’s direction
- my trust in you
- my expectations of you
- the key processes and values I need you to adopt
But that is only half my job; I must use any method available to make our communication truly interesting.
If I fail, we all fail.
If I bore you, we all face oblivion.
If I keep us on the same, corporate circuit instead of steering us down the road less travelled, not only will I fall asleep at the wheel, but none of you will be awake to keep me on track.
Today, let us embrace the age of storytelling so tomorrow we will still have stories to tell!
The next step? Climb the Strategy Ladder
After your speech, it will be time to contemplate the Strategy Ladder for communications, as outlined by Cindy Crescenzo.
Start with your business goal. What does the organisation need to achieve?
Then determine the communication goal. Are you trying to inform, create changed behaviours, entertain?
Next you isolate the messages you want people to take away or remember or act upon.
Now starts the creative bit as you craft your content, which includes choosing the right tools (blog posts, videos, podcasts, images, live chats, dinner meetings, etc), the best timing, and other practical aspects.
Finally, you set out what you think success will look like so you can measure the success or otherwise of your communication. It might be emails received, visits to a page, reservations made, sales, etc.
Have fun – I mean it.