Financial Story

Keep Your Audience Engaged: 5 Steps to Make Your Message Resonate

Keep Your Audience Engaged

The most effective communications aim to get people engaged, influence their behavior, and, ultimately, move them to action.

Too often, though, your targeted audiences end up like the geese in this picture I snapped the other day. The fake coyotes were enlisted to deliver a simple message – keep off the grass.

Clearly, as far as the geese are concerned, that message is no longer resonating.

As communicators and PR pros, we need to constantly work to ensure our audience doesn’t become a flock of indifferent geese. Here are some ways to make sure your messages don’t go stale:

Don’t just throw one pitch – Pitchers who throw only fast balls aren’t pitchers for long. It’s key to find new and different ways to deliver the same or similar messages. Focus on adding variety in how the message is positioned, who delivers it, and how it gets distributed. A blend of digital, print, video and even in-person communications helps ensure your message stays fresh and connects with the full range of your audience. 

Stay connected to your audience – As Peter pointed out last week, it’s essential to know your target audiences. Developing audience personas can be a game changer in terms of identifying your audiences -- and gaining a deeper understanding of what motivates them and how to reach them. Beyond personas, look for ways to gather ongoing feedback to make sure your messages are resonating. 

Avoid boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome – You can go overboard with trying to get your message out. Flooding your audience with messages, particularly if they are not very compelling or actionable, can cause them to check out. This is also true when you're working with the media. If you pitch the same reporters twice a week with mundane press releases, they may not be open to listening when you have a really compelling story to tell.

Make sure you hit the porch – Back in my newspaper days after we hit deadline a savvy old editor would often quip, “well it was all for naught if the paperboy misses the porch.”  Wise words. Even the best messages can’t get traction if they are not reaching your target audience. Make sure you know the right delivery channels and platforms to connect effectively -- and keep up to date with new ways people are getting information.

Monitor and measure — These days, people are getting bombarded with messages. As a result, they can tune out quickly. It’s essential to develop multiple ways to track and measure whether your messaging is resonating. That can include drawing insights from Google Analytics, tracking click and open rates, and measuring response rates or actions taken based on a particular message or campaign. It might make sense to establish an editorial advisory board, either online or in-person, or conduct some polls or surveys to gather more feedback.

Take it from the geese: Delivering the same message in the same way will bring diminishing returns. Be proactive and open to new strategies and tactics if you want to keep your audience engaged. 

5 Easy Ways to Leverage Your Annual Report

It’s the time of year when annual reports are starting to land in mailboxes or post to Websites. 

And depending on how the process went down this year, you’re likely admiring the glossy result, or vowing to never lay your eyes on it again. 

Both options, while understandable, are selling your annual report way too short. 

There are plenty of easy and effective ways to further leverage your annual report now that it is complete. And considering the time, money, and resources you committed, it only makes sense to get some more good mileage out of the finished product.

The good news is that regardless of whether you have come to love or hate this year’s report, it’s relatively simple to squeeze some more value out of it. Here are 5 possibilities:

PR pitches

Annual reports, with their predominant year-in-review focus, typically aren’t a source for breaking news. Still, a second look might reveal some potential headline-makers for either the local or industry press. Is there a major accomplishment or milestone featured that could be newsworthy? Record-breaking financial results or notable new products or projects? Does your CEO’s letter include some nuggets that could provide the framework for a pitch about your company’s growth or community commitment? Are there any employees featured? “Smithville Native Spotlighted in XYZ Annual Report” is a no brainer for a local newspaper’s business section. Not only is it good earned media for your company, but also provides a nice hometown pat on the back for the employee featured.

Op-eds

The best annual reports feature a letter to shareholders in which your CEO offers up some compelling insights about trends in your industry or impact in your community.  Fortunately, the best op-eds often focus on the same things. Take another read through the CEO letter to assess if it contains the framework or news hook for a good op-ed either for an industry publication or a local, regional or national newspaper. Odds are you’ll be surprised by the possibilities after reviewing the letter with a different mindset. 

Web Content

Sidebars that are focused on innovative programs, new initiatives, customer profiles or community service are no brainers as fodder for fresh web content. Often a well-written sidebar can become a blog post with little or no reworking. Infographics can also serve as the foundation for new web content. Don’t just think external – annual report content can be a great source for an internal drip campaign to get employees better versed in your company’s business and performance. 

Sales and recruiting support

Too few companies fully leverage an annual reports potential as a sales tool or recruiting piece. If enough printed copies are available, share them with your sales team with some simple tips on how the book can be used to highlight key aspects of your company during a sales call or, as a leave-behind for a prospect to gain a deeper understanding and confidence in your company.  Same goes for career fairs -- or at very least making sure several copies are available in areas in which job candidates will be waiting for interviews. 

Presentations

No doubt countless hours are wasted in organizations by people starting PowerPoint and other presentations “from scratch.”  Yet odds are good that there are several elements within your annual report – from branded design to approved images – that could serve as great elements for presentation templates or guidelines. Work with your creative team to leverage some content images and graphics that can provide information about your company in an effective and consistent way. This not only saves time and helps ensure your company is being presented well, it also positions your communications team as adding value to partners throughout the company. 

Sure, we get that after months of work and worry in the annual report birthing process, you might want to just move on. Yet, making just a little more effort to think about how to further leverage the report is bound to make your company – and your team -- look really good.

Hit the porch when telling your company's financial story

Hit the porch when telling your company's financial story

Back during my days as a newspaper reporter there were times just after a particularly frantic midnight deadline when a rumpled veteran editor was fond of muttering… “Well, If the paperboy misses the porch this was all for naught.”

The comment typically got a knowing nod and chuckle. Anyone who has ever committed considerable time and effort into a project only to see it fall apart in the final stage of execution can relate to the image of a waterlogged newspaper mired in the front shrubs.