Have you ever received a piece of marketing or a solicited newsletter via email that has made you so embarrassed on behalf of the writer that you cannot do anything but blush and cringe? I just got an email like that. From start to finish it was both a visual and intellectual assault that left me feeling both angry as a professional communicator and alienated as a stakeholder.
Let me paint a picture for you. The grammar and spelling was all over the shop; the spacing was inconsistent and bizarre; some of the headings were capitalised; the text was pink, black and blue; and – this is the worst part – it opened with the bruised political view of the writer. Strike that. What I mean to say is that it lambasted the actions of a political party without care as to the politics of the reader, thereby alienating probably half the readership before they even got through the first paragraph to the newsletter content. And it wasn’t a political newsletter. It was a business support network newsletter, designed to engage its collective audience for the greater good of the network. The fact that it wasn’t professionally written, edited and proofed was frustrating enough. But really, they lost me at political.
How on Earth is it possible that in the age of content marketing people still don’t get that they need to handle the content they prepare for their stakeholders with care? When you’re reaching out to your stakeholders it’s absolutely paramount that content is relevant and helpful. What you need to do is make it easy for your readers to review your articles, letters and status updates. The only way to do this is by making sure the content you’re sending, or directing them to, is fabulous. Your aim is to save them time and build your profile as an expert who should be listened to, who can impart relevant, unique knowledge and who has their finger on the pulse of great information to share with the reader.
Unless you’ve been asked to write an article for a political newsletter and you’re happy for your political views to be public knowledge, then keep them to yourself. Especially don’t use your stakeholder communication channels as a platform to set the scene for your view on an issue. How is imparting your unsolicited political views going to engender a desired response in a reader that sits on the opposite side of the fence? In a heartbeat, you’ve alienated them. There are simply no benefits to this approach and it certainly won’t aid any public relations goals you might have to connect with your audience.
Engaging stakeholders to nurture relationships, or as I suggested above, to position yourself as an industry leader, can be a tricky business as it is. That task is only made harder if you alienate your stakeholders by providing them with terrible content, no matter what industry you are actually in. It paints an unprofessional picture of your business and it shows you have no qualms about putting forth unfinished, badly considered communications to your stakeholders. Making your content accessible, inclusive and incisive matters. Send out ill-conceived content and you risk losing your stakeholders. Above all, keep out your own political views unless your political views are the point, and your stakeholders expect them.