- Burying the Lead – Employees don’t care about how good something is for the company nearly as much as they care about what’s in it for them. Even tough messages will be better received if they clearly describe the What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) angle for employees. When drafting communications, make sure to view things from your audience’s point of view and highlight elements that benefit that perspective.
- Losing the Plot – People can only absorb so much information at one time. Remember your communication is already competing with thousands of other messages. Don’t muddy the waters by adding extraneous information. You won’t enhance understanding or soften the blow. You’ll just confuse people or encourage them to ignore you.
- Failing to Create a Story Hook – The corporate news cycle is fast. Your message needs to include a “tune in tomorrow” style hook to keep employees engaged or they will move on and tune out your message. Remember, just because something is important for you doesn’t mean it’s of interest to someone else. You have to earn your audience.
Bonus Tip: All communications matter, but some require extra attention. Slow burn items like strategic plans are like novels. They unveil over time so plot, pacing, and especially consistency of message is key. You can’t change genres in the middle of a book, and you shouldn’t change direction in the middle of your strategic plan communications.
Of course, there’s always an exception. Unplanned events – from a hostile takeover or political instability to a competitor’s actions or CEO’s blunder can throw a monkey in the wrench of anyone’s long-term plans. In these cases, speed of response is the crucial. Since few leaders have an innate ability to successfully “wing it”, it’s important to have actual media and communications training. In these situations, success comes from planning, practice and sincerity. In the end, whether your message is big or small, life-changing or the emotional equivalent of an SOP honesty and authenticity wins the day.
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