Over recent weeks, the nation has been inundated with information: there’s been more daily briefings, regulation updates and re-briefings than you can shake a comms stick at. Throw into the mix a cacophony of social media noise and the messages get muddier. Take for instance the messages about social interaction, what we can and can’t do during Covid-19 has become less clear for many. For us, it’s simply a reminder of how important clarity in communications is.
How to nail your comms message
One of the first things to remember for any individual or organisation is that the message you send is not necessarily the message received. If you need a few pointers in executing your message, here’s what you need to remember:
Appreciate the context
Reading the mood of your audience, understanding behaviour and responding appropriately is vital to ensure messages are received correctly. At the moment, many people are concerned about the health and wellbeing of themselves and their loved ones, causing a raised level of anxiety. To lower apprehension, provide reassurance and execute it through repetition or acknowledgement of previous messages. For instance, we know to stay alert but do we still need to wash our hands?
Messages ‘sent ‘ aren’t always the ones ‘received’
We often assume that just because we say or write something, recipients know what we mean. Not true. Don’t be afraid to point out obvious facts, informed readers will skip past and the rest will be enlightened. Keep your words simple, interesting and concise, but look for potential anomalies in your output and address them before they go viral. It’s a lot less time consuming than dealing with a deluge of questions that may follow.
Communications is a balancing act between, sensitivity, clear directions/instructions/facts. PR failures don’t just come in the form of the infamous 2013 horsemeat scandal or a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, they also fail when we don’t appreciate how our messages can be easily misunderstood or confused. If information is misinterpreted by a recipient, it’s usually due to a pitfall in the communication process.