Working in communications comes at a price. Everyone has an expectation that you can whip up a creative idea, on demand: any time, anywhere.
It can be exhausting.
My favourite sentence, used by colleagues and clients alike, simply goes something like this: "I need to tell someone about this great thing. Can you knock up an email and send it out? Preferably in the next hour."
Yeah, sure. While I'm there would you like me to write a thesis on the meaning of life? I'm not complaining (honestly). I really don't mind. It's quite flattering that people think you are so utterly skilled in your job that you have the ability to do that.
But let me tell you a secret, and this might cost me, our creative brains are not on call 24/7. There, I said it.
Sit me in a dark, cold room and I am pretty sure the quality of my output would reflect my surroundings. We need to be in the right environment and in the right frame of mind – sadly this is not a constant state that we live in. So, how do we prepare our communications?
I've worked in Marketing and Communications for over 10 years now and it's sometimes easy to forget how or why we do the things we do. They become part of who we are, and move to our subconscious. All I know is when I'm asked to “whip up some comms”, it makes my eye twitch.
So, what do we do that makes others think it's that easy?
(Not to be mistaken for KFC, that's a whole different blog post.)
We use this a lot: Know. Feel. Do.
Always start and finish with your reader. Keep them in mind at all times. What do you want them to know? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do?
To understand this you should always plan; I learnt the benefits of planning at a young age. Organised fun was my speciality. It worked. At uni, this was reinforced, and then in the big scary world of work it became vital.
Who is your target audience? What tone of voice should you use? What is the impact of what you are communicating on them?
I personally start with a coffee, a blank piece of A3 paper and a four-coloured pen. Remember the pen: it’s important. I note down the key messages and bits of information I want to communicate. I think about words associated with these and relate them back to the brand to get the tone of voice. I think about how the information can work together to create an interesting story that people will want to read. Then comes KFD. This helps with the structure of the comms.
Still with me? Knocking up an email might not seem so simple now! That’s not even taking into consideration the headings or subject lines. But there will be more to come on those.
Over the next few weeks we will be publishing a series of blog posts to help you write better email communications, but the theory will work for all of your comms needs.
Back to the four-coloured pen. It looks pretty, feels organised and helps to categorise. Did I say it looks pretty?
But please, next time you have a great idea to communicate a message, consider the above. It will help you to write great communications that are going to resonate and ultimately help your employees understand what you need them to do.
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