When I worked in newsrooms, I used to joke that we were the most uncommunicative bunch of communicators. We might have the latest scoop on the governor or the budget, but when it comes to us actually knowing what’s going on within our organization, we’re likely clueless.
This came to mind recently when I attended a session called “Organizing Your Communication.” The session was presented to a group of professional organizers, whose clients are often stressed, embarrassed about their clutter and fearful someone might criticize.
The presenter, brilliant Charlotte Purvis of Purvis Communications, walked the group through a series of questions to highlight how those clients might see us. They look at our websites, listen to our voice mail greetings, red our newsletters, see our online photos.
What do they see and hear in those places? Although organizers may communicate well in person about organizing, are we communicating who we are effectively to someone merely conducting the initial research?
Of course, this applies to every business and it really hit home for me. I spend most of my time worrying about other people’s web copy, writing their newsletters, updating their Facebook pages. What about my own? I change my shoes for a meeting, but I hadn’t properly updated my voice mail greeting in several months.
We worry about upgrading our equipment and technology, but what about our actual communication? Is it time for an upgrade?
Website – Your website should be updated with the latest information and logos for your company. The page should include some recent pictures. Photos of people should show a diverse mix of people wearing smiles. The web copy should be written with the customer/client in mind. What questions will he/she have? How can you help them? The contact information should be easy to find and include both an email address and a phone number.
Voice Mail – Don’t apologize for not being there. Don’t tell them “after the beep.” We all know how this works. Instead, explain who you are, what you do and let them know you want to speak with them. Your voice mail should be nearly as good as reaching you in person. How can you stand out from the pack?
Newsletters/Brochures/Other Materials – Materials should be written in the voice of your client, always keeping him or her in mind. Avoid jargon and save the technical terms for discussions with your colleagues. This person is seeking help with something. What reasons might they produce NOT to hire you? What can you tell them to counteract those reasons? How can you help?
Interaction – Return calls promptly. Follow up with handwritten cards/notes to clients. Do something special for a client to make yourself stand out and remind them why they hired you. Who knows? You might even score a recommendation.
Maintenance – Like most things, checking up on your communication isn’t a “set it and forget it.” If you don’t have someone to help you with these items, be sure to schedule some time on your calendar to check it regularly.