IC Matters › Engagement

Why we read what we read, and why no one is reading your stuff….

David KennyDavid Kenny·

We communicate for a bunch of different reasons. Our communication audience starts off with, “Hey, I’m hungry!” using a ‘nonverbal channel”, and progresses to understanding things like abstract poetry and music, passing through cursing, debating, face pulling etc. Regardless of how basic or sophisticated the channel might be, all communication is for a reason. For us to pay attention to any communication, there are a number of critical factors that need to take place, but most importantly, we need to actually CARE. Radical, isn’t it?!!!

For some reason, I get a catalog mailed to me every few months. It’s for nurses uniforms. I’m not a nurse, have never been a nurse, and have never even dressed up as a nurse for any noble or nefarious purpose. I’ve emailed the company to ask them to stop sending me the catalog, but all that happened was I started getting sent the digital version as well, so I stopped bothering. Every time I see there is post waiting at my house I open up the mailbox. When I see the catalog for nurses uniforms, I am irritated. Why am I being sent this? There is absolutely no purpose to it. Why can’t they stop sending it?

A lot of corporate communications misses the “purpose” filter entirely. Huge efforts are made to glitz the channel, adding lots of fascinating technologies (mobile, vision boards, scorecards) and pretty colors with complex graphics. However, if the purpose component isn’t addressed, it gets automatically filtered out. Go right back to the first example, the baby crying because it’s hungry. If you’re that baby’s parent, you absolutely respond to that communication, almost at an involuntary level. If you are sitting at an adjacent table, you filter it out as it’s just plain irritating, for you. It has absolutely no purpose. In fact, if it’s annoying, you are probably going to shut down that channel in future. “I’m never going to that restaurant again, it’s always full of screaming babies”.

Conversely, when communication is well targeted, we LOVE it! We engage automatically, we jump through the hoops, we do all the right things! It’s interesting, it’s important, we prioritize it! We set up alerts so we don’t miss out; your phone trills, your screen flashes, your watch vibrates. Quick, it’s ARRIVED! Don’t miss out, act NOW! That has nothing to do with the channel, it’s about just how specific the targeting is. However, if we come to rely on the channel as a source of useful communication, we prioritize that channel.

The channel you use can either help you, or hinder. No one watches a five minute corporate communications video, you have to make it less than three minutes. No one scrolls down to read a corporate email, make it fit on one page, but MOST importantly, make it about something I care about, something that matters to me, make it about my purpose, my problems, my life. If it’s a message from the CEO, customize it to the key roles, regions or concerns within the audience.

Top and tail it with highly localized content that’s specific and relevant for THAT audience.

Think about this for a few minutes. The last communication campaign you ran, why were you doing it? Who cared, and what was the purpose of it? Did it enrich the channel for your audience, or did it switch them off?  If you can’t answer these questions, could it be that you are sending another nurses uniforms catalog? So please, either stop completely or send something else.

Or go find some nurses.

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