Chris Anderson offers a new take on that old news truth that people are interested in things that are relevant to them – he calls it The Vanishing Point theory of news.
The concept applies to all communication – don’t start from a perspective of what the “transmitter” wants to say, but understand what “receivers” care about. Never is this more true than in internal communications (which we are covering in the CIPR Advanced Certificate qualification this term). How many publications – and especially messages from management – are written from the corporate perspective, totally forgetting that readers need to care enough to read on.
One of the few publications I read regularly is the Parish Magazine, produced by residents in my village. Its news is of specific relevance, in terms of social events and bigger matters, such as opposition to plans to allow 4×4 vehicles to drive down a tiny footpath where I walk my dogs.
The important aspect is personal connection. Living in France, my parents check out the news online for the Yarmouth Mercury and Eastern Daily Press to note matters of interest in their “home town” where they still have family and friends.
It is vital for public relations practitioners to ensure communications makes a personal connection. This is especially so when there isn’t another form of “local interest”. Otherwise, people will be like Chris Anderson who says he’s no longer interested in hearing of another bombing in Baghdad. Such self-interest becomes dangerous in allowing others who are far away, who we don’t know or care about, to do what they like, not spotting the impact on us personally until it is too late.