Do you care enough to read on…?

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 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 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.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

8 thoughts on “Do you care enough to read on…?”

  1. My favourite word is “connect”. If a connection is not made by politicians and businesses alike to their target audience, they should review their communictions strategy.

  2. I wrote publications for employees during the experience I’ve had in PR in an external agency and what I thought was insane was having statements from CEOs near the front page of such publications. People at the grass roots level have very little interest in what the big boss has to say, many of them haven’t even met him/her. But, when the client gets copy approval it’s very difficult to persuade them that what they have to say sometimes doesn’t require a front page slot!

  3. These two thoughts go together – those CEOs and clients who think their word is the most important thing that employees want to hear have failed to connect. The views from the top are vitally important, but it is key to allow other voices to come through a publication, particularly those who have some relevance and trust with employees. Top executives should be of interest to readers – but only they have a genuine voice (rather than corporate speak) and are able to relate issues to what concerns workers. I think that “big issues” should be discussed by CEOs with employees – people do care about the direction of the company, what the future holds, how problems are going to be resolved etc, but want to see something real, not vanilla words that puff up the CEO ego and don’t address the questions that everyone else is asking.

  4. Should it be a kind of gatekeeper idea, whereby the ideas from the top are filtered down through middle management who have more day-today connection with the people lower down the eschelon? This is where PRs boundary spanning role has impetus to gather trust from internal stakeholders thus gaining importance as a strategic management function too. I’m veering slightly off internal publications now i guess

  5. It could be – there is a lot of research that shows the influence on employees of both their direct line manager and “people like me”. The issue then becomes one of ensuring line managers are effective communicators – so PR could be the facilitator of such training and development, rather than simply executing internal communications. And, as you say, vital that PR has respect and trust in this role.

  6. That would be handy to demonstrate where PR communicating with sub-systems would show in the training and development aspect of an organisation to enhance the comm skills of managers.Would PR liaise with these managers through HR or via management?

  7. PR should have a very close relationship with HR and relevant line management in any case. I think internal comms should be the responsibility of PR, and so provided there is the relationship and clear lines of responsibility, then PR would work with the relevant divisions on skills training, writing messages, assisting with technical materials, etc.

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