These days, a brand that wants to reach its target audience needs a smart communications strategy. All the competition and clutter online (and offline) means that only the most crisp, compelling messages cut through and make an impact.
And this was before a global pandemic reshaped the communications landscape.
Now the newscycle moves at lightning speed. And people’s attention spans are becoming even more limited, as we all devote time and energy to supporting one another and tracking the latest health information. In this new landscape, brands without a smart communications strategy are especially at risk of appearing bothersome, thoughtless, or just plain overwhelming.
So how can you ensure your communications are helping, and not harming, your audience? Here are three tips for crafting a communications strategy that informs without overwhelming.
Leading with the most salient information is mission-critical. The best communications are always concise — good writers don’t bury the lead. “Always start by writing your main point. Then elaborate as necessary,” advise the editors at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
This is more important than ever, as the pandemic shrinks already short attention spans. (Oracle notes that the average attention span is a mere eight seconds.) As you communicate with your audience — whether through email newsletters, podcasts, social media posts, or another medium — let them know why straight away. If you’re a hospital sharing masking best-practices, list them at the very top of that newsletter. If you’re a real estate firm with new inventory, put the address and price right there in the tweet.
COVID fatigue is real, so use your comms opportunities wisely. As noted above, people rarely have the time for long-winded emails or blog posts these days. Similarly, they don’t have the patience for non-stop communications, either. “For many people — especially those recovering from the virus or juggling work and child care — brain fog and inattention have been collateral damage,” reports TIME magazine.
For example, if you’re a business or organization that usually sends out daily emails, you’ve likely seen your engagement dip lately. Listen to that data — communicate less frequently and when you do, make it count. Your audience is probably interested in a big sale, new store hours, or other relevant information. But an email about your new company logo? Hold off on that one for now.
Monitor the news, and act accordingly. The past 10 months have been the most memorable in recent history, from the pandemic to the presidential election. As a result, brands must be keenly aware of what is happening in the world, as to not make a communications misstep.
If your audience lives in a region experiencing a spike in COVID cases, don’t publish a whimsical press release or advertisement. Send out a thoughtful, supportive message instead ¸— or, simply opt to stay silent. Similarly, if breaking news is unfolding — like a presidential inauguration — reconsider what you’re putting out in the world that same day. At best, it will get overlooked. At worst, you may look insensitive or clueless.
For a look at what not to do, the editors at Search Engine Journal recently published “7 Brands That Are Looking Awful During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Among the sins they list? Brands that use lighthearted spring break imagery when everyone is sheltering in place.
While the calendar year may have changed, the communications landscape remains fraught — and likely will remain so for many more months. More than ever, it’s vital for brands to be strategic, thoughtful, and empathetic in their communications.