Monday, February 01, 2016

Making communications work: Always do the 'Comms around the Comms'

In 2015 I left my comms job and became the Network Co-ordinator for an all-Wales clinical network. It's not a complete change. I've taken some of those comms skills with me and I recently helped produce a video project working with some members of the network. We were quite pleased with the results, given our shoestring budget. Here's one of them:

It was a great feeling to have the videos filmed, edited, tweaked, and then finally signed off and loaded up to YouTube. You can watch all four on our website.

However, one of the big things I learned in my previous job was that the end of the project - when the product was polished and perfect - was when you needed to kick in with the actual 'comms around the comms.' It's easy to make the mistake of thinking the end result is the end of the work - I've done it! I've produced a lovely report, or a shiny video, or a glossy resource. I've put it on our website. I've thought my hard work is done.

Sorry, no. The hard work is not done. This was my comms plan for after we went public with the videos.

Comms around the Comms

It's not enough to produce the content; you need to get it read or watched or seen. How do you do that? Here are some of the ways I approach this.

1) Identify your channels
Count your channels - do you know what you have available? You might be surprised.

Aggressively promote it on your own channels - tweet it frequently using a scheduler.

Don't just rely on your channels, use other people's channels too, which leads to point 2.

2) Ask people to promote it
Send personal emails to all your contacts asking them to look at what you have done and tell others.

Be explicit in what you are asking for. Not just 'Could you tell people about this?' but 'Could you tweet this and put it on your Facebook page?' The worst that would happen is that someone will say 'No', but to make it more likely that they say 'Yes', make sure you do point 3.

3) Make it easy to share
Write tweets for people; write content for websites, lines for blogs, whatever.

Pre-empt people's needs. In Wales, people will need a Welsh version. Get it translated.

Make it relevant. Why would another organisation share your content for you with their audience? Emphasise the connection you have - for example, we had staff from different organisations involved so the web story was tweaked when we asked those organisations to share the content.

4) Engage in the dark arts
Do the SEO work on YouTube. It sounds obvious but you need to make it easy to find. Write a description. Use meta-tags. This is a bit more technical and probably won't make as much difference as a nicely-worded email to 50 colleagues. But it all helps.

5) Revisit
Keep coming back to it. Repeat your messages. Follow up with people who didn't share it - people are busy and forget. Don't be afraid to send a friendly reminder.

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