Developing clarity in our messaging takes time and space to reflect on the unique characteristics of the people to whom we are communicating. Ironically, as senior managers in organisations we do not believe we have the time to reflect and develop clarity in our messaging or to consider the unique characteristics of the people we are engaging. We are so busy planning, strategising, responding, emailing, phoning, talking, we do not schedule time to reflect on how to communicate effectively with clarity. Consequently, our communications are often muddled. We think we are communicating, but often what our listeners hear, is not what we think we are saying.
In our recent blog, Clarity & Communication, we spoke about the importance of distilling your message into three or four main points. Distillation in the process of making spirits takes time and equally it takes time to distil the essential message/s you want to communicate. Senior managers who are good communicators give themselves time to allow the key messages they to communicate to distil and become clear before they communicate.
As well as the constant noise of multiple communications one of the other challenge's leaders face is the immediacy of the news cycle. It is easy to allow the pressure of the news cycle to drive our communications. The pressure to get something out to clients or stakeholders often leads to muddled communications that are unclear and lead to misunderstanding, possible rumour and in the worst-case false information being spread. Rumour and false information can have severe repercussions for both for-profits and not-for-profits in terms of profitability, impact on service delivery and reputational damage.
The other reason communications are often confused is we do not think through who the intended recipients of our communication are. We tend to think of amorphous groups such as “clients” or “stakeholders” and when we think of amorphous groups, we are likely to miscommunicate because we make broad assumptions about the “group” rather than thinking about individuals within the group which would give clarity to our messaging.
Markets these days are increasingly segmented. Within the broad umbrella of stakeholders, there are segments, groups of stakeholders with particular interests that are not necessarily shared by other stakeholders. Similarly, with clients, as many not-for-profit organisations know, services now have to be nuanced and created to meet the individual need of clients rather than the “one size fits all” model that operated in the 70’s and 80’s.
If we are communicating to a segmented market, then we have to understand as much as we can about the different segments or sub-groups. Most organisations, particularly not-for-profit organisations do not have the staff or time to really understand the unique interests of groups within their client base. This is something the Tonic Digital team with our skillset in analysing and understanding research, social, web and analytic data of people provides to our not-for-profit clients to extract valuable information on their client base and wider market.
Up-to-date insight on your client base is essential in creating a clear message that will resonate with the particular interests of people rather than a broad communication to a vague group of stakeholders.
Taking the time to craft clear messages to individuals will in the long run avoid the time and energy spent in clearing up miscommunications and the rumours and innuendo that arise from such situations.