Speaking with Communications professionals on a regular basis (corporate and agency), the question that has been percolating in my mind is “What’s the optimal cadence for communicating with an audience?” The range seems to stretch from annually, biannually, to multiple times each week.
In the first instance, the communications team has the added responsibility of list maintenance to ensure accuracy and deliverability. We’ve found that up to fifteen percent of an audience can change roles within a twelve-month period, raising the risk of failed email sends and spam notifications.
Conversely, an audience can become fatigued with too frequent communications. This scenario can create an added expense, as the audience may come to require or expect an incentive when you’re soliciting their feedback on a business decision, like a new product concept.
I brought up the question at a #SMWNYC (Social Media Week New York) event hosted by Mission Control Marketing, Pursuit PR, and Bond Collective. One of the speakers, Chaim Haas of Bloomberg, invited me to visit their offices to delve into this topic further. Chaim and I connected at the event as two of the key core values at Bloomberg – transparency and collaboration – are key values at my company as well.
Here are the highlights from my conversation with Chaim Haas and Shaun Randol .
We started by talking generally about editorial frameworks. Any framework must align with objectives, both corporate objectives and communications department objectives, including the objectives of the Chief Communications Officer. Shaun pointed out “communications should ladder up to business outcomes.”
With an editorial framework in place, the communications department can effectively become a content hub, determining which communications can be handled by the Communications team and which can be handled by the departments where the ideas and requests originate. The framework allows content creation to be opened up to employees as well. Chaim shared that the process requires “gaining trust,” especially as Communications is a relatively young function at many businesses.
At Bloomberg, teams from around the globe funnel content back to the New York City office (an office which is designed to incorporate the core Bloomberg values of transparency and collaboration) and the Communications department builds upon this input to achieve a consistent brand voice across channels.
Narrowing the conversation to cadence, Chaim gave the example of the weekly events message that he generates. A key component of successful cadence, in Chaim’s experience, is to “set expectations” around timing from the first message or blog post. Random cadence will not drive behavior. As a content creator, cadence rigor is essential. It also helps you avoid a slew of “where is that news, content that I should have received” messages in your inbox.
Shaun outlined five essential considerations to tie together the framework and cadence conversations:
- Tone: Straight talk for corporate messages, like org changes. Journalistic for storytelling. And fun and whimsical for lighter fare, like newsletters. The tone must match the heaviness – or lightness – of the topic.
- Content type: How are you engaging the audience? Is it graphic or text? A photo or a headline?
- Action: What outcome is your message, content seeking? Is the audience being asked to simply read a post or to attend an event or to consider participating as a volunteer?
- Transparency: Are you making it clear to your audience who is involved in the communication?
- Relevance: How broad or narrow is the audience for a specific message?
We wrapped up with a brief review of the Bloomberg feedback loop. The Communications team conducts regular, internal surveys: regularly scheduled and specific to company events, like town hall meetings. As Chaim pointed out, it’s important to give deserved recognition to Bloomberg employees who are sharing and creating valuable content.