With my daughter starting ‘big school’ and a main client in the HE sector, I’m acutely aware that we are now at the start of a new academic year. And amongst the excitement of new pencil cases, new uniforms and moving away from Mum and Dad (that’s the students, not my 4-year-old), a time of new beginnings gives communicators a chance to review what they’re working on. Even if your working life is not connected to the academic year, there will still be a point when one period is ending and a new one starting. Whenever that is, it will be a perfect time to pause and take stock.
Working on a cyclical timeframe runs the risk of communications becoming too same-y. When you need to communicate the arrival of new students or the annual results for the 5th year in a row, you need to ensure your audience really engages instead of viewing your communications as so much white noise. We’ve heard it all before, they think, and remove the open meeting from their calendar. And how do you keep it engaging? Here are a few points I always consider:
- What is new this year? Are there new people involved, is the desired outcome different this time around? For example, this is the first year that students will be paying increased fees so university staff need to be prepared for that.
- How can we demonstrate that this year builds on and learns from last year? For example, a children’s charity might need to move up a gear in campaigning so that promises to improve welfare that were made last year are not forgotten this year.
- How can we use stories of real people from around our organisation to show what the strategy continues to mean for us? For example, how is Sarah from Fundraising developing innovative ways to raise more money year on year? Stories of real people are always engaging.
And don’t throw the baby out with the bath water in your quest to be innovative and fresh:
- What worked well last year? What did staff find really engaging? What do we know was well-received?
Until next time