No matter the audience, it’s a challenge for communications teams to ensure that key aspects of the external messages they craft won’t be lost in translation. However, this is something every business needs to know how to do effectively to establish credibility and grow.
Whether they’re developing emails for prospects, a social media post for followers, an advertisement for public consumption or a report for investors, communications leaders and their teams need to be confident that all of their organization’s external communications are on point.
Below, 15 members of Forbes Communications Council share critical questions they ask themselves and their teams to ensure that all external communications will effectively reach their target audience as intended.
1. Does The Customer Care About The Topic?
To make sure our external communications are on point, we must understand who we’re talking to and what they care about. So, before we draft a press release, craft an email or write any type of communication, we have to ask, “Does our customer care about this, and how do we best answer any questions they might have about this?” – Jocelyn Sexton, Dover Fueling Solutions
2. Could My Mom Summarize The Main Point?
It can be easy to lean into company jargon and technical terminology in external communications, so check for simplicity by asking, “Could my mom repeat the main messages back to me in her own words?” If not, there may be some reworking to do. Whenever possible, ask someone outside of your business to review the communication as a final clarity check. – Jen Farmer, Neat Capital
3. Could Our Competition Make The Same Claim?
It is easy to create positioning statements and key messages that speak highly of your brand, but if they do not create differentiation, they are missing the mark. In a recent industry presentation, I heard a fellow marketer say, “Different is better than better.” That sums it up nicely. – Kelly Grover, Taconic Biosciences
4. Has The Content Led To A Response?
It is sometimes easy to be fooled by great readership or viewership numbers. However, you want to make sure that you have reached the intended audience and that they were intrigued by the content. You want to showcase new angles or even surprise your audience with new facts. This is when you know your readers truly benefited from your communications strategy. – Keren Pakes, Bright Data (Formerly Luminati Networks)
5. Is Our Messaging Consistent Across Platforms?
You wouldn’t trust people who presented themselves differently every time you spoke with them, and the same goes for businesses. Brand identity must be consistent across every customer interaction, from social media to email marketing. This will build trust, credibility and familiarity with customers and foster greater brand loyalty. – James Freeze, Interactions LLC
6. Am I Offering An Interesting Perspective?
Know your audience. Is there value in what you’re saying to them? And are you offering an interesting perspective? There is too much content nowadays, and it’s easily available, so you’ll only make a real impact and capture the attention of your audience if your voice and points of view are unique and clever. – Diana Castellanos, Atlas Renewable Energy
7. Why Does Our Story Matter?
Knowing your audience and why your story should resonate with them is key. How are you making the connection? To truly connect, you have to add real value. Add value in your storytelling by creating campaigns that highlight the most important elements of your brand, your values and your core message. Don’t make noise to make noise; make noise that matters. – Stephanie Lewis, Munck Wilson Mandala LLP
8. Did I Address My Audience’s Primary Concern?
Many times, communications teams get focused on the message they want to send and may spend less time trying to understand what the audience needs and wants to know as a result. Really great communicators get into the minds of the audience and craft their messaging through that lens. – Kathleen Hertzog, Canton & Company
9. Are We First, Different Or Unique?
If we are parroting others, we won’t differentiate ourselves and we won’t make an impact. This means prioritizing creativity within your team, enabling individuals to experiment responsibly and accepting that some things may fail. In the end, I’d rather hit home runs than play it safe and get a single. – Melissa Duenas, Leidos
10. Are We Communicating The Benefit?
Your customer needs to know how your product or service helps them. Show them that you understand their pain points and how your company, product or service is their solution. Speak to them about benefits so they don’t have to try to interpret it on their own. Chances are they won’t, and then you have lost them. – Kristi Harrington, PestRoutes
11. Is This Clear?
So often, we find ourselves wanting to overshare information that may not be relevant or doesn’t fit the context of the message we want to convey. It is helpful to enlist someone from an outside department, such as human resources or legal, to gain a differing opinion on whether what is being shared is concise and to the point. – Sara McKinniss, FST Logistics, Inc.
12. Does This Align With Operational Realities?
A company cannot embark upon an external communications campaign that does not align with how the company operates from a functional or value standpoint. Communications teams must understand the value proposition of the business and the priorities of internal stakeholders before crafting external messaging. – Kyle Scott, Lone Star College
13. How Will The Reader Feel After Reading It?
If your external communications are on point, they should elicit the intended emotion. You have to understand what the reader is looking for in the message and write it with their needs in mind. While you have organizational goals, your message needs to be framed in a way that not only allows the reader to feel informed but also shows that the organization cares about their response. – Jamie Ceman, Chapman University
14. Would I Share The Post Or Message Myself?
If you’re about to communicate something on behalf of the company that you’d hesitate to post yourself, then think twice. Ask yourself why this message gives you pause and see if there’s something you should change that will make it better. Sometimes, we have to trust our gut and push back if the message doesn’t feel right. You’ll thank yourself later. – Kate Barton, Clearview Advisory
15. Can The Email Be Read On A Mobile Device?
It’s important that emails you are sending can be easily read on mobile devices. Many executives and editors are on the go and multitasking and, therefore, reading emails on iPhones and other mobile devices. If you are responding to a super long thread and adding attachments, consider sending a new “clean” email so the recipient does not have to scroll down so far to find the attachments. – Sherry Jhawar, Blended Strategy Group