Cutting through the Christmas noise

browningyork Christmas, Communication audiences, Communication lessons, Engagement, General communication

Christmas noiseAt Christmas we often find ourselves surrounded by noise. But I’m not talking about sleigh bells or those irritating novelty decorations that sing a tune and make a racket.

I mean the multiple messages that come our way.

Here are just some of the things we come across at this time of year:

  • Adverts from stores such as you-know-who, telling us all about the things we really ‘must’ buy if we want a perfect Christmas.
  • Christmas recipes with their instructions to get hold of such and such an ingredient, then stuff, parboil, cream or griddle it.
  • Present lists with all their messages about the latest must-have toys for your niece, the specific spy book that your father wants to read and what on earth to buy for Great Aunt Nelly.
  • Invitations to parties and celebrations, with the details of when and where the do will take place, when to RSVP with your menu choices and even what to wear.
  • Even good old Christmas carols come with their messages of peace and goodwill to all!
  • All of this leaves me very much relating to Victoria Wood’s joke about Christmas shopping and finding a piece of paper in her pocket with the word ‘crackers’ on it.

    “Have I got to buy crackers or go crackers?!”

    With all this noise going on, it’s important to think extra carefully about your organisational comms at this time of year. Do you really need to launch a project right now? How much can you realistically expect people to take notice of the programme update this month? Will your people have the energy to give you accurate feedback or will their thoughts be tainted by December stress?

    All this being said, sometimes your communication really can’t wait. It’s unrealistic for business to stop for 1 month out of 12. Plus the end of the year can be a nice time to round up how things have gone. Or to plan for improved results next year.

    So if you really do need to communicate this month, how can you cut through all that Christmas noise?

  • Be clear on what you can realistically achieve. Although there can be plenty of excitement and enthusiasm at this time of year, it can also be draining with a lot to ‘do’. You therefore need to think hard about the best you can achieve right now. Objectives that chime with the overall mood will work best – for example, celebrating, acknowledging and taking baby steps towards something bigger.
  • Do an assessment of the Christmas noise your communication will be competing with. What else have your people got going on? Who else will they be listening to? The insight into your audiences that you should already have in place will help you here. As will getting out, talking and listening to them.
  • This is an opportunity to show your diversity and inclusion policies in practice. Not everyone in your workforce will have an interest in Christmas, so consider the implications for your comms activity.
  • How can you present your messages in a way that fits in with everything else? It’s time to be creative- but not cheesy! Or at least, not too cheesy for your audience – some org cultures can handle cheese better than others, so work out where yours fits in.
  • On the other hand, sometimes your messages might work better if they very much do not fit in. This year we’ve had an advert with a very different sort of message – Iceland’s different approach to their Christmas ad cut through the noise by being unexpected and provoking a strong reaction.
  • Remember that communication is never a one and done activity. Anything you communicate before Christmas will always need to be repeated and built upon in January. By the time we’ve all been through parties, time off and mountains of Christmas pud, December (and its communications) seems a distant blur.
  • How will you be cutting through the Christmas noise at this time of year? Comment below or get in touch to let me know how you will be dealing with festive communications.

    Until next time
    Sarah