Six comms problems I’m seeing a lot of...

Six comms problems I’m seeing a lot of…

Here’s a handful of issues that I’m seeing often in my line of work at the moment. Any of these sound familiar?

1. Assuming we ‘know’ the audience Unless this assumption is based on some insight work, this always rings warning bells. If they’re making assumptions at this fundamental level, there’s a good chance the content won’t hit the spot and provide the outcomes they want.

2. Defining the audience as ‘everyone’ No apologies for another audience-related one as it’s so fundamental to the success of any project. Even if your audience is wide, you’ve probably got a primary audience and some secondary. If it really is ‘everyone’ then look at dividing that into segments and targeting those subgroups according to their needs and preferences.

3. Being unclear about communications conventions This includes lacking awareness about principles such as grammar, plain English, health literacy or ensuring information is evidence based. It also includes lack of familiarity about publishing or production processes.

4. Being overly wedded to those conventions This often means holding on to a very formal style or structure where something else might serve them better. It’s all very well knowing the rules – but good communications often requires us to break them too.

5. Giving wrong people a veto on the wrong things This happens where publishing products fail to differentiate between content experts and communications experts. The process works best where the former take a strategic role, while communicators lead in how to convey the messaging to the audience. The communicator’s lack of specialist knowledge is vital in overcoming the risk of navel gazing or vanity publishing.

6. Lack of experience in publishing processes Thanks, I’m guessing to the speed of digital publishing, I’m seeing a lot of projects where the traditional stages are being compressed into one big free-for-all. This means a lot of the important elements needed to check sense and accuracy get overlooked. The result is a lack of clarity in everything, from schedules to roles, unrealistically tight deadlines that need to be repeatedly extended – creating headaches for absolutely everyone.

I’d love to hear how others are tackling these. If recognise any of these issues and you’re feeling stuck, I can help.

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