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Advice Unlimited

Advice Unlimited

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Communications Rule #1: Learn from your Audience

I had the honor of running a workshop this morning at the Advanced Learning Institute’s (ALI) Social Media for Government Communications Conference, in Crystal City. My topic was: How Social is Your Communications Outreach?

The focus was on how to strategically drive public outreach using traditional and new media – and I emphasized the importance of choosing communication channels based on goals and objectives and how they work, not on what’s ‘hot’. One of my key points was: ‘listen to your audience.’ And I got to practice what I preach – I listened to my audience.

The group was outstanding – all government communicators, a good mix of public affairs officers, writers/editors, webmasters, community outreach specialists, social media coordinators. Military, civilian, and even state and local organizations were represented. And here’s what I learned, listening to my audience:

1. Most government communicators, as I’ve always believed, truly care about doing the best job they can, and understand the importance of the message they are often tasked with communicating.

2. Pay attention to your personal communication style, and translate what you like and why to how you can best reach your audience. When you’re comfortable with a certain communication channel, that’s going to show, and your enthusiasm will resonate with your audience.

3. Think through the demographics of the target audience you want to reach, and meet them where they go to communicate with the people who are important to them.

4. There is so much to learn about all the wonderful new ways to communicate and collaborate! Be open to learning new things every day, and trying new things – always motivated by what will help you better communicate with your constituents!

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