How to choose communication channels (2 of 2)
In my last post, I talked about analyzing your audience, their situation, the channels around them, and the ones they are most likely to use. This time, I want to talk about matching a communication channel to the type of information you are communicating.
The central issue here is that people do not care until they care. It goes back to the audience analysis I blogged about, in that you have to ask When will people want this info?, or at least When will they listen for a little bit?
For a long-term message (like pushing a new initiative, process, or mindset), your communication channels should evolve along with the kind of information you’re communicating.
So, to pick up where we left off in the last post…
6. What kind of information is this?
This is where you could create a complicated matrix mapping factors to channels, but factors and channels will vary for your situation. So, I’ll make some suggestions for 3 general types of communications—Conceptual, Reference, and Reinforcement:
6a. Conceptual—These are messages about a general concept or mindset, often related to Organizational Change Management. I think the best approach is a “live person” push, coupled with concise, clear, consistent reference information:
individual presentations (the push—this may need to be a brief presentation you can take on a road show in existing meetings, if the info is unfamiliar and people won’t take time to attend a presentation on this alone)
intranet site (the central point of reference)
video, blog, and social media (to help generate discussion and provide content with its own life)
newsletter article (help generate awareness, for those who read or discuss the newsletter)
email (can help with an initial announcement, or updates, for those who are email-centric or won’t see the other channels)
6b. Reference—This is detailed, task-oriented content, which your audience might not need until they’re actually completing the task.
job aid (can be the key central document with any required procedural information)
intranet site (can be the central resource for procedures, support, news, and to provide an explanation and links for all other resources)
blog and social media (these can be a way to crowd-source best practices, troubleshooting, and other reference info, if they’re well-configured for searching)
6c. Reinforcement—These are communications that reinforce initial information, to keep building knowledge and acceptance. These are all “push” mechanisms, as opposed to the “pull”mechanisms that would fall under “Reference.”
presenter-led class or workshop (since you’ve built “conceptual” awareness and desire, people may be willing to sign up for a class or workshop to learn more)
individual presentations (an introductory version of the class, functioning as a “road show” someone can present in existing meetings)
blog, and social media (maybe a “push” video as well, to keep generating discussion and provide content with its own life)
newsletter articles and email are not ideal, unless something has changed and there is “new news” to share
intranet site is important to update, but someone who checks the site regularly is probably not your target audience for reinforcing your message
When you organize your message, your channels, and your schedule, you create a consistent face and a consistent message that grows within your user community. Targeting your audience appropriately means that you don’t waste their time. That helps to establish their trust and interest in the updates that you offer down the road!