Communicate about what people care about!
Recently I attended a conference of school communication and public relations professionals. While trying to soak up idea after idea, one piece of advice kept running through my mind and seemed to overarch all my thinking. The advice went something like this: It doesn’t matter what platform you use, use it well and create engaging content.
How do you develop engaging content? What IS engaging content? To me, one way to create engaging content is to talk about what people care about.
Admittedly, that statement is not rocket science. Still, I think it remains a rather elusive idea. We easily get caught up with so much to tell about our organization or school. But let’s turn that around. Instead of thinking about what we want to tell, let’s think about communication in terms of what is important to your target audiences.
Maybe your target audiences are parents, staff, or your business partners. Engaging content has “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me) messages for them.
Whenever we attempt to communicate, on whatever platform – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in print, via e-newsletters, infographics, and (yikes) even face-to-face – there has to be WIIFM content. That is because your partner in the communication process will only engage with your content if the receiver feels that he or she will gain information that he or she cares about or can use.
Like this blog post – If I don’t give you something pretty soon – chances are you’re checking out. So…
Here are a few resources that might help guide your thinking about engaging content for your school communication efforts.
- Patron Insights is a trusted resource for community and staff surveys. Based on research conducted by this group over the course of 20 years, they identified topics that are very important to different stakeholder groups and put it into an easy-to-read “Pyramid of Information”. They have identified the topics that are important to stakeholders and you’ll find it on page two (2) of this recent report. (The whole report is called Trust Factors. Aside from containing the Pyramid of Information, the other data in this report is insightful as well. I think it is worth reading!)
- Another resource is Phi Delta Kappa annual perception poll. I have used that poll for many years. Phi Delta Kappa also presents ideas on how to localize the information to determine engaging content (or what’s important) to your community. Chances are that Phi Delta Kappa’s 2016 report will be coming out again soon, so I would watch for it and think about how you can localize the results.
These are just two examples of research. They provide you a good jumping off point when you start thinking about what is important to communicate to your various audiences. Creating engaging content does take time. You can learn more about effective content if they start connecting with you. Retweeting, liking, commenting – those are indicators of engagement that can help you identify what’s working.
And, if you’re seriously considering how to create a full-out community engagement effort, it will be worth your while to gather local results, too. That way, you’ll be better able to understand what’s important to your community, then communicate about what is important to your target audiences, and nail that WIIFM content!