Yesterday at 4pm EST I co-hosted the first-ever Writing Matters Twitter chat–#WrMatters–with Corporate Writing Pro Michelle Baker. We were joined by Michelle Quillin of New England Multimedia and Megan Harris of Megan Writes Media, as well as plenty of lurkers–I’m certain of it.
Our discussion centered on reaching our audiences. Michelle’s Writer’s Triangle shows audience is affected by the author on one angle and the purpose of the piece on another angle. So basically, its breadth and complexity depends on who’s writing what.
As a a social media and online community strategist (who), Michelle Q. knows her business depends on getting the attention of companies who need her services. So she creates content that pulls them in rather than pushes a sale (what). And as a savvy marketer, she doesn’t wait for them to come find her. “I do the finding,” she says, and posts her content where she’s sure it will be conveniently found by interested readers, who will follow it back to New England Multimedia’s blog and Facebook wall.
Then Michelle B. asked, “How do you write for multiple audiences inside one message? Does it become a matter of finding the lowest common denominator?”
This is obviously not the ideal situation for any communicator, but sometimes it has to be done. It has to be done when you write annual reports for internal and external readers and shareholders. It it has to be done when you need to send an email update to clients and colleagues at once. It has to be done when you’re the social media manager sending a tweet from a company for all the world to see.
I’m familiar with this diliemma from creating copy and editing quality control reports that will be viewed by the public. In today’s world, the public can have very public reactions to the wording of any statement, so it pays to be careful. But at the same time, we want our message heard in our own voice–and the public wants it that way, too. How do you keep your message from turning into soup–and not the kind with meat and potatoes–without excluding large portions of a diverse audience?
Michelle Q. solves the dilemma very simply: “Niche. Branding.” She focuses on her target audience for each message–finds a primary audience–and writes to them only. And it works. If you don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing–as I often don’t when creating copy for clients–make sure your work addresses each type of audience using what I call a “bridge” that keeps both types of readers in the conversation.
My example was the brand-aware consumer reading a brochure versus the unaware or less-aware consumer. Both could be a target of a certain campaign, and both need to be addressed. The bridges here would be elements like call-outs to define phrases or make the offer easy to find–and bring the less-aware consumer up to speed.
But by far, the easiest way to communicate in any medium or for any purpose is one-on-one dialogue. It’s simple, personal, and elicits the most immediate reactions and results. Michelle B. asked, “Does anyone else create audience profiles?”
If you don’t, you should. It’s by far my favorite way to write anything from a blog post to a landing page, and it’s as simple as
1) picking an audience member you’re familiar and comfortable with; and
2) writing to that person every time you write anything for your business.
When you have a real person in mind, everyone in your audience is sure that person is them. Because of that, they’ll be more receptive to your advice and more willing to engage and contribute to the conversation. Think about it: don’t you feel obligated to reply to someone who calls out a “Hello” to you?
Hope to see you two Thursdays from now for the next #WrMatters discussion!