Communication is not just about the written or spoken word. Music can convey emotions across the spectrum, as this does in the midst of the chaos of a damaged apartment after the dreadful explosion in Beirut. Our thoughts go out to the people of Lebanon.
There are many ways in which brands communicate. They use advertising, which is a powerful tool. Sponsorship of sport, and other large-scale events, such as mega concerts, if leveraged properly, yield great returns on investment.
But in a time of crisis, such as now, with the world, it seems to some, almost shutting down, people clamour for information about the virus, and how you are communicating with them about it, rather than be attracted to the latest advertising fad.
But the most important form of communication has always been to “walk the talk”. It still is. Especially now. It means your brand and its promises can be believed.
At this time of crisis in the world, one would therefore think that every brand is practising what it preaches. And if it does not preach the message of staying healthy by applying the basis hygenic standards recommended by experts the world over, it should embrace these norms immediately.
Thus when you walk into a pharmacy, of all places, you expect sanitiser to be available at the entrance, and to be compelled to use it. Gloves and masks should be worn by the staff, if only to give comfort to their customers. Surfaces should be cleaned before and after every customer has been served. Yet some outlets of a well known pharmaceutical brand in South Africa are brazenly ignoring these standards, in spite of customer pleas not to do so. By doing so, they are implicitly saying that they don’t care. In the face of this unsafe behaviour (observed a day ago), this particular brand has stepped up its radio advertising to teach the public safety standards!
This need to “walk the talk” applies to government departments, as well as any business dealing face-to-face with customers, as well as religious organisations. If a small supermarket on the high street of one of Johannesburg’s residential suburbs can do it – as was observed this morning – so can every national chain, with their vastly larger resources, do so.
Walk the talk – that will be your advertising and marketing communication strategy that will see you through this tough time.
The last tip on writing effectively in business: #Visualise your #reader. Billionaire Warren Buffett gets the right balance in his reports by writing for his sisters, Doris and Bertie – intelligent people, but not experts. (HBR, Mike Reed)
Tip 5 about #effective_writing in business: Focus on #benefits to people. Eg, “Keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer, thanks to its cotton-merino blend” works a lot better than “A luxurious cotton-merino blend fabric”. (Tips from HBR, Mike Reed)
Tip 4: Get to the point. Think like a #journalist – what’s the most important thing you need to say? Identify it, and put that first. Busy people need to get the point upfront. (Tips from HBR by Mike Reed, Reed Words, London)
Tip 3: Recognise that your audience #skim-reads by glancing at a screen, picking out words and sentences. Use features like #sub-heads, #bullets, #diagrams, #infographics and #tables to help their understanding. (HBR review)
Tip 2 in our series on effective business writing: Choose short and more familiar words. Long, complicated words and sentences confuse readers. Cut the jargon! These tips are shared from an HBR paper (Mike Reed of Reed Words, London)
Writing well – and communicating effectively – is a critical skill for all in business. In the next few posts, we’ll share tips from a Harvard Business Review about how to write without boring your audience.
Tip 1: Talk like a human, not a business. One way of avoiding stiff formality is to write in the first person. So, instead of: “Jones and Jones is a residential agent offering customers friendly, clear and straightforward advice”, say: “We’ll give you the clear, friendly home-buying advice you need.”
Next post: Avoid complexity
In this article in The Atlantic, http://ow.ly/Julf50xZSnY, John Hendrickson reflects on the seldom-acknowledged stutter of USA Presidential frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, Joe Biden. As the immediate former vice president of the USA, there is no doubt that Biden has a desire to communicate and get people to believe in the policies he promotes. It is interesting to read in this article about a speech therapist who, in helping people to overcome stuttering, concentrates not so much on the mechanics of communicating, but on the desire to communicate at all. Interestingly, it is difficult to perceive any trace of a stutter when one listens to Biden. This reminds us of the former great Methodist leader in South Africa, Dr Joseph B Webb, who delivered the most articulate presentations during his influential ministry. Yet he grew up with a profound stutter and overcame it by standing in farmlands in the Eastern Cape, practising, practising, practising to speak fluently. Effective communication – spoken, written, acted, presented – comes with practise and a simple belief in the desire to communicate.
A final thought: When stutterers sing, they don’t stutter; they communicate the beauty of the music. (For a discussion on singing and stuttering, see this link.)
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