How relevant are your communications?

2 side by side cartoon drawings of the same scene; one from the perspective of a man on a desert island who is delighted to see a boat coming towards him and one of a man in a boat who is delighted to see he is heading for the land of the island

Attending the CharityComms internal comms group last week got me thinking about relevance in communication. It’s something that can be easy to take for granted. But how relevant are the communications we produce, for all our audiences, not just internal ones?

The topic of the meeting was how to get cut-through for your internal comms messages. This is something which can be tricky at the best of times. But it’s even trickier with all the additional pressures that people are facing right now.

Tailored communication

As usual with CharityComms events the peer to peer learning was useful and wide-ranging. A theme which ran through much of the discussion was the importance of tailoring communication. Making sure the content you produce is as relevant as possible to your audience.

They are more likely to engage if they can quickly and easily see a connection between themselves and your email or web-post. That link could relate to a number of areas:

  • Their specific job role
  • Their motivations for doing their role and/or being involved with your organisation
  • Their interests in a broader sense

So if you want to make your communication relevant and connected, you might frame what you say with examples such as:

  • How the new policy will help them run their drop-in sessions or meet a fundraising target
  • How the new corporate sponsor will enable your organisation to amplify young people’s voices in new, more influential places to drive change
  • How the topic you’re covering has links to the Great British Bake Off

What to include as relevant

When it comes to what is relevant to your audience, be mindful how you make the decision. It is easy to fall into the trap of choosing what to include based on your own views of the audience.

Audience insight is important.

How you use that insight is important too.

I used to encourage my clients and workshop attendees to ‘put yourself in your audience’s shoes’. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that wasn’t quite right. Instead of thinking:

‘If I was a fundraiser, this would be relevant to me.’

Try reflecting on:

‘What is the fundraising team’s actual experience today and what do they feel is relevant?’

This change of perspective may lead to surprising realisations.

Difficult conversations

When you switch your thinking in this way you may have to be brutally honest with yourself. And you may have difficult conversations with colleagues. After all, if they’ve been working on their project for months it’s their baby.

But however important it might be in their world, that doesn’t necessarily make it relevant to everyone else. If the audience doesn’t connect with your content, you haven’t communicated their project effectively anyway.

Top tips

There are various ways to tailor your communications and I’d advise you to consider:

  • Purpose – identify your desired outcome so it is appropriate for your audience
  • Messages – frame what you say so that your audience can make sense of it and connect
  • Channel – choose a method of communication that is known to, suitable for and used by your audience

When your communication is relevant to your audience it is effective. As communicators that’s what we all want to achieve.

If you’d like help making your comms more relevant, get in touch for a chat about how I could support you.

Until next time

Leave a comment