The Author

An avid spinner and iced tea aficionado, Julie tackles association, nonprofit and small business communications challenges in this blog.  She's Senterline's Chief Problem Solver, able to overcome redundant databases and prickly politics with the greatest of ease.

Julie Senter's Social Media
Thursday
Mar182010

Shhh...The Secret to Effective Communications

What do diets, exercise routines and communication programs have in common?

They can all fail quickly if not consistently nurtured.

Consistency is the key to any successful communications program, yet it’s often overlooked in the day-to-day struggle to juggle priorities.

In today’s world of instant online access and readily available publishing software, it’s all too easy to launch a blog or create a Facebook fan page within 90 seconds.  But the upkeep?  That’s a different story altogether.

Which communications tool did you launch with all the enthusiasm in the world in 2009, only to let slip in 2010? 

When was the last time you updated your company’s blog?  Or sent out a newsletter? Or posted anything to that Twitter account you were dying to have last fall?

Don’t get me wrong; I understand.  Many companies have been forced to cut staff and reduce budgets simply to stay afloat during the recession.  When eyes are glued to the numbers, it’s hard to focus on the need for words.

But this is precisely when your clients, customers or members need to hear from you, and a stutter-step approach to communicating with them can do more harm than good.

Inconsistent communications reflects poorly on your company, making your efforts appear half-hearted.  If you don’t keep up your blog, what else is falling through the cracks?  Clients may start questioning your ability to finish projects.  Worse yet, if they don’t hear from you at all they may start questioning your longevity.

However, there are simple things you can do to get your communications program back on track and improve your consistency.  Here are a few quick tips. 

Your diet and exercise routine?  That’s a different blog.

Know your limitations.  Though it may be tempting, don’t take on more than you can handle.  Blogs are a powerful, powerful tool that can showcase your industry expertise, communicate company news and generate media coverage, but don’t start one until you can commit to its constant care and feeding.  The same goes for your Facebook page, Twitter account and e-newsletter.  Limit your focus to one or two tools if you must and utilize them well.

Set a schedule.  Whether it’s once a week or once a month, set a schedule for all of your communications tools and stick to it.  You’re probably used to scheduling your newsletter, but you need to build a schedule for all of your tools, including social media.  Put all of the schedules on one calendar so you can easily see when your communications are going out and ensure you don’t have a barrage of messages going out one week followed by a three-week drought.  

Plan content.  The schedule spreadsheet should include an area for suggested topics so you’re not stuck trying to come up with ideas on deadline.  Be flexible and include time-sensitive items as they surface, but start with a solid base.  Need ideas?  Do keyword searches on Google or Technorati on topics related to your industry and see what people are talking about.  Talk to your sales department about their most frequently asked questions and address them.

Make assignments clear.  Nothing will derail your schedule faster than realizing on deadline that everyone thought someone else was writing chunks of your online newsletter.   

Get help.  You don’t have to go it alone.  If you or your staff find yourselves spending an inordinate amount of time drafting, polishing and distributing your communications, consider hiring a communications consultant to do the heavy lifting for you.  It’s a lot cheaper than utilizing limited in-house staff, and any good consultant should be able to provide you with analytics and reports to help determine your ROI.

Interested in learning more about content schedules or having Senterline set up a program for you?  Call us today for a free consultation or email info@senterline.net.



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