Communication is complicated. There are thousands of ways to package a message, and then even more ways to deliver it. Done right, that message has the power to shape thoughts and enable meaningful results.
Acclaimed author Margaret Atwood says, “A word after a word after a word is power”. That doesn’t just relate to novels and fiction. Content created with care and strategy can be an incredible force in the workplace. Ask any writer, marketer, and communications professional, content that moves people doesn’t just happen, however. It’s the result of hard, focused work. “Wordsmithing” isn’t just a trendy word of the moment, it’s a skill.
Want to learn how to create content that inspires? Here are a few things to keep in mind …
It may sound simple, but a human-centered approach is often forgotten when it comes to content. We can easily lose focus of the people we’re creating content for in the deep pool of audience segmentation, personas, and groups.
Of course, segmenting audiences into groups is a great starting point. This way you can tailor and personalize content. But never forget that you are speaking to people, humans with thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs. Instead of broadly targeting a group, speak to a specific person and try to answer his or her questions, and provide guidance as you would to that individual. If this means actually asking feedback from that person, go for it. Otherwise, simply imagine what that person would need (we’ll get more into feedback a bit later.)
Recently, the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) launched a call-to-action for IC practitioners to be more human-centered. Following the impact COVID-19 has had on the world, but also internal comms, the IoIC sees the industry shifting to a more proactive, personalized, and focused approach.
Extra resource: Meet your internal audience
Most organizations have invested time and effort to create a brand – how they’d like to be seen and known for outside of the company. This is generally directed to prospective clients and customers. For obvious reasons, that same brand does not translate directly to an internal audience.
“Your company also has a second brand related to its primary brand about how you’re viewed as an employer. This is your employer brand, and it lives and breathes in the minds and hearts of your former, current, and future employees.” – LinkedIn Talent Solutions
A study in 2018 found that 86% of workers would not apply for, or continue to work for, a company that has a bad reputation with former employees or the general public.
What does that mean for content? Well, internal communications are the embodiment of your employer brand. Where marketing and advertising seek to bring the corporate brand to the public, internal comms brings the employer brand to the employees.
As an employer, what do you want to be known for? Speak to staff strategically, instead of operationally and you’re on the right track to establishing your employer brand.
“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” – Pearl Strachan Hurd
Did you know 70 to 90% of all communication is non-verbal? Indeed, it’s not about what you say, but how you say it that matters. For content that isn’t face-to-face, tone of voice is a powerful tool to add non-verbal cues to content.
Extra resource: Is content king?
“The secret of being boring is to say everything.” – Voltaire
Knowing what to say and when is part intuition, and part careful planning and moderating. The quickest way to have messages disappear in the minds of your audience is to send too much information too quickly. Using a communications plan will help plot content on relevant channels to avoid information overload.
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” – Henry David Thoreau
Similar to the point of creating human-centered content, the only way to know if you are successful in your efforts is to ask for feedback from your audience. Communication is a two-way street and by opening the conversation both ways you’ll be able to optimize your content to see more meaningful results.
Extra resource: Creating a culture of feedback
IC 101 is a blog series dedicated to sharing internal communication best practices. The principles discussed in this series are drawn from research from Simon Fraser University and learnings from internal communication experts in the field. Join us in this series to empower your communication efforts today.
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