Recently, I had a somewhat embarrassing episode remind me of the importance of careful and thoughtful communication on behalf of nonprofit organizations toward their donors, partners and the people they serve.
Last week I went to the eye doctor. I have a few eye conditions, in addition to poor vision, so the clinic staff set the appointment in motion by taking a few quick measurements and dilating my eyes. Then the technician walked me back out to the waiting room where I sat with my pupils getting larger and larger by the minute. Without contacts or glasses, and generally looking like something out of a vampire movie, I waited the requisite hour plus while the overbooked clinic juggled other patients to and from rooms.
“Michele, Michele” I heard from the general direction of the clinic front desk. I instantly stood to determine the location of the voice. Ears perked in attention so I could determine which fuzzy glob of white lab coat to walk toward.
Ears still perked. Silence.
“Hello, I’m Michele,” I said to no one in the general direction of the white globs near the front desk.
“Yes?” said the front desk.
“I just heard someone call my name.”
“What is your name?”
“My name is Michele.”
Said softer amongst the globs near the front desk, “Did you call a Michele?”
“No, I didn’t.”
Standing, peering through useless eyeballs. Waiting.
“Oh, I called a Michele,” I heard from off to the right.
Still not identifying the owner of the voice calling my name, I headed for the right side of the clinic, and eventually came to a woman staring at clipboard.
“Oh, this way,” she said.
And I stumbled into the exam room.
One would have thought that a clinic devoted to eye disease would have a better handle on how to communicate with its sight-challenged clients. This was clearly not the case.
As a marketing and PR professional, I work with organizations to help them effectively communicate with their constituents and the community at-large.
To communicate effectively, know your audience. Understand recipients’ preferred and needed means of receiving communication. Be cognizant of how individuals and corporate partners want to be addressed. And remember that every piece of your organization has the opportunity to communicate your message. From your website, electronic newsletter, direct mail, twitter feed and press releases, to the people answering the telephone — get the content of your communication correct.
As well as your delivery.
Guest blogger: Michele Huie is a marketing and content development consultant in San Diego.