Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How to communicate more gooder.

In my twenties, I cut my teeth on corporate communications (and therefore fiction-writing) as the editor of Citibank's bi-monthly, 24-page color magazine for its staff in the UK, Ireland, and Scandinavia. (Ah yes, dear reader, I have lived!) Every two months, I had that uplifting moment when the new edition arrived from the printer, smelling deliciously of fresh ink -- better than a new car, in my opinion -- and I would grab an armful and gleefully scatter them around the desks on my floor.

"What's in it?" someone would ask inevitably ask. "Look," I'd reply, "I edit it, I write virtually every word, I take a lot of the photographs, I lay out some of the spreads, and I even draw pictures. I'm not bloody reading it to you as well."

But it demonstrates -- as every communicator, in every field, ought to know -- that people are different. (They're idiots too, but that's another story.) Some want their words written on paper, some want them on a screen with pictures, and some won't believe anything unless it goes into their ears. You want to get a key message across? Give the audience a choice of how to get it.

I got a stark lesson in this during the first days of my very first assignment out of university. We'd spent an afternoon clearing some old junk out of a couple of cabinets -- I knew that freshly-minted degree from Oxford would come in handy -- which resulted in a large pile of trash for the evening cleaning staff. Just to make absolutely certain they'd know what it was, we made up a big cardboard sign with the word "RUBBISH" in huge red letters and lodged it conspicuously on top.

The next morning, the pile was still there, including the sign, on which someone had written: "Is this rubbish?"

No comments:

Post a Comment