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Let's Get Personal

If you want to make one high-impact change this year in the way you present your organisation, I want to challenge you to ‘get personal.’

While I haven’t done comprehensive formal research, I’ve certainly noticed a general shift in the type of social media posts, media stories and general conversations that are currently exciting and engaging people.  And that shift is all about personal, real, emotive stories. 

During times of stress and upheaval, like we’ve been through this past year, people often seek out stories, visual and auditory content that comforts, inspires and whisks them away from the constant negativity happening around them.  People want to see and hear from other people who share what they are going through, most of all.

Bringing a bit of extra personability – and personality - to your communications will help increase your organisation’s reach, create positive word-of-mouth, gain fans and generally get those who matter most talking about and enjoying their interactions with you.

So, how can you do this?  Here are five simple ways:

Put your team to work

People want to interact with other people not a stale, formal corporate brand.  So, why not put your staff to work?  Of course, you’ll need to do a bit of training on presentation style, key messages and general dos and don’ts but don’t let the logistics of this hold you back.

Get your staff to front videos for social media that explain a new project or launch a new product . . . or maybe use their voices to give life to a stale, old message.  For instance, how about getting staff to front safety videos as part of your health and safety programme?

You could also broaden the number of team members who can speak to media in their areas of expertise.  What a great way to demonstrate the depth of your organisation when there is more than one leader fronting stories and issues.

Mix the stock photos

Now, there are certainly times when stock photos, particularly for social media posts, are your only option. But as much as you possibly can, use real people in your photos.  Do a photo shoot with your staff several times a year, getting them interacting with customers and each other in natural situations.  You’ll be surprised how much use you’ll get out of one photo shoot.

Another idea is to enlist customers, partners, suppliers and others your organisation regularly interacts with for a photo shoot.  Having real people in your visual assets creates a genuine authenticity that will resonate with your audience.

Let’s hear your voice

Writing a story from a personal perspective and using some team or customer photography alongside it is great, but what’s even better is hearing voices.  This might sound really simplistic but it’s true: hearing a voice in a video or audio file can stop people in their tracks.  The content of what you are saying, of course, is incredibly important - you can’t say any old thing. 

But my point is, don’t always rely on the written word.  Figure out innovative ways to bring those words off the paper and to life through your people, your customers and others.

Get out and about

Getting personal requires being in-person.  If your organisation’s communications approach has primarily involved channels such as social media, publications, media stories, e-newsletters and the like then why not consider channels that get you out from behind the desk and talking with those who matter to your business?

Find ways to add a new event or two to your communications approach this year.  Or simply participate in an event that’s already happening, for example a conference, farmer field day or industry networking event.

If you are a national organisation, consider a ‘roadshow’ type event that gets you in front of customers or key stakeholders in smaller groups where you can have great discussions and build relationships.  Pressing the flesh will reap enormous benefits.

Forget the polish

I’ve seen many organisations become paralysed by worry of having to be too perfect. 

While there are certainly benefits to producing a beautiful corporate video, for instance, much of the time an iPhone selfie edited on some free video software can resonate even more with your audience.  Of course, you need professional standards, but my point is don’t analyse the creative to death.  Authentic personability means there will be a few rough edges, but we are all used to that and will give a bit of leeway.