PivotPath

Inclusive Communications to the Masses

inclusive communications

By: Justin Roshak and Ashley Przybylski

Every organization needs flexibility, innovation, and meritocracy to keep up in a fast-paced global economy. Inclusion is a core value that supports these goals, and organizations that prioritize inclusion will find themselves open to new opportunities in staff, partnerships, and markets.

Inclusive Communications. It’s a modern buzzword for an old idea. But what does it mean, and how can organizations practice inclusion when communicating with the public?

Inclusion may not come naturally to individuals or organizations. Differences in culture, language, and perspective can be challenging to identify without prior experience. Technology makes it easy to approach the world with a one-fits-all approach, leaving out some audiences. An organization’s makeup is rarely broad as its potential clients or partners.

Focus on Commonalities

Few organizations are built from the ground up to work across every possible line of geography, culture, and language. The staff you have, and the partners you’ve worked with, will inevitably shape expectations—which don’t always fit new opportunities. Worst of all, knowing when cross-cultural communication has succeeded—or fallen flat can be challenging. 

For example, PivotPath has worked on a series of communications projects in the West African nation of Sierra Leone as part of a European Union international development and democratization project. 

Sierra Leone’s residents speak multiple major languages and many minor ones. As in the US, partisanship is a sharp dividing line—the country is still recovering from a vicious civil war in the 1990s. For messaging to succeed in these circumstances, it must be inclusive. 

When developing outreach videos, clothing and skin color are needed to match local expectations. Images avoided signifiers of political parties or regions (still very sensitive subjects) and leaned into shared national identity symbols. Messaging focused on common goals: peace, democracy, and shared prosperity. At all content production and dissemination levels, communication sought to unite and energize. 

Inclusive messaging recognize commonalities and seeks to build on them. It provides a framework for collaboration while remaining sensitive to natural divisions. 

“The common emotions we all face are things I want our communications for our clients to focus on. If we can do communications that bring people together, drawing the strengths on our differences, then we are truly succeeding.” —Elizabeth M’balu Oke

 

Build—and Sustain—a Diverse Communication Team

The American Civil Liberties Union found that “there are higher voting rates in minority communities where radio station owners are of the same ethnicity”. Media diversity stimulates audiences’ engagement through shared backgrounds. But when there is a lack of diversity, the sense of trust is not as strong and can lead to viewers being less engaged, leading to the voting numbers going down. 

And yet, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Hispanics make up 18% of the workforce but only 12% of the media industry. Similarly, research from Pew Research Center shows that only 7% of newsroom employees are Black, but 11% of U.S. workers.

As with media, so too with any twenty-first-century communications team.

One reason the PivotPath team can succeed in the U.S. and international projects is its diverse makeup. PivotPath’s staff is mixed with team members representing different cultural backgrounds, generations, and social lifestyles and brings diverse experiences in sales, marketing, and journalism. As a result, there is a broader pool of perspectives and ideas than if the firm had hired from only one place or field. 

Organizations should strive toward inclusion in all positions relating to mass communication. But this is just a place to start. By building and supporting a diverse media and communications team, your message has a greater reach as it will resonate with a broader audience. 

Companies also need to listen to what their employees have to say. Hire talented, diverse voices, and listen to them. Employees from underrepresented communities can help their organizations communicate more effectively with these communities.

 

Use Person-Focused Language

 

The words we choose can be a powerful tool for getting our message across—or they can unintentionally exclude or alienate individuals or groups. A rigorous understanding of subtext and subtleties can take many years of experience to fully grasp, let alone incorporate into an organization’s messaging DNA. But there are hard-and-fast rules to avoid common pitfalls.

A strategic rule of thumb is to emphasize language that is person-focused and as broadly inclusive as possible. In practice, this can take several forms.

Person-centered language is most obviously useful in the context of persons with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness/unemployment, or people without homes/jobs, which are much more empathetic terms than “blind”, “disabled”, “homeless”, or “unemployed”. The former are conditions, while the latter are unwelcome labels. No one wants to be personally identified with their troubles.

Instead of phrases like “Black and White”, say “all races and ethnicities”. This ensures that groups of other geographic origin are automatically included and neatly elides certain complexities. For example, Latinx persons in North America may constitute an ethnicity or a race, depending on context. This broad approach keeps communications maximally inclusive.

Referring to a title or role promotes meritocracy and inclusive communications. An equally inclusive set of terms is “everyone” or “colleagues”, in place of “ladies and gentlemen”; For terms such as, “chairman” or “policewoman”. Much preferable are “chair”, “chairperson”, or “police officer”. Reference the office, not the gender of the officeholder. Research shows that gendered professional terms have real-world implications when they come up against deeply-ingrained gender stereotypes. 

Politics is another pitfall. Unless engaged in direct political activism for a cause or party, it is usually preferable to refer to “Americans”, “citizens”, or “residents” instead of “Democrats and Republicans”. An inclusive messaging strategy seeks to build commonality; politically-charged labels are often inimical to that goal.

PivotPath’s Inclusive Communications

Do you want to build inclusion into your organization’s DNA but aren’t sure how? Our communication creators at PivotPath have the tools and expertise to help. Contact us for a FREE strategy session.

Why Direct Mail is Essential in your Nonprofit End of Year Appeal

As the end of the year rolls in, campaigns to fund programming start to fill donors and supporters inboxes and mailboxes. Looking for a few tips to stand out as well as connect enough to maximize your fundraising efforts? Try direct mail!

There is a strategic link between direct mail and non-profit organizations. Furthermore, direct mail is the glue that holds together nonprofits and their donors.

Direct mail’s role in non-profit organizations

First, to incentivize donors and supporters, direct mail marketing strategies are essential. These strategic campaigns aim to remind stakeholders and supporters of the importance and uniqueness of their participation and donations. Examples of this are a sweet reminder to your partner of how much you care about them. However, to be effective, a direct mail campaign must include the following key elements. 

Personalization is key

postcard

Most of the time, emails are never opened by recipients. Due to the hyper-digital season of the pandemic, we live in an era where drawing someone’s attention using Emotional Intelligence. Therefore, it is important to send personalized handwritten messages by taking advantage of demographic information. Non-Profit Source’s statistics prove the effectiveness of individual and personalized moves. Contacting a customer one-on-one increases the likelihood of response up to 50 percent or more. Personalization increases the response rate by up to 500 percent. 

Handwritten cards

A paper alternative to persuasive emails is visual postcards. Although they can be time-consuming, personally handwritten cards can make the recipient feel extra special. Comparatively, this can also deepen the relationship and loyalty they will have with your organization. If the thought makes your hand cramp, check out companies like Handwrite.

Personality and gifts galore

An additional strategy to awaken and engage your donors and supporters is by sending them gifts. Who doesn’t love gifts? And it does not have to be elaborate or expensive. The important thing is making them feel good, as well as feel special. Correspondingly, every time they see that gift they think of the cause they are contributing to and the reason to continue doing so. 

                                        

The power of storytelling

Moreover, Emotional Intelligence is the magic formula that is crucial for any direct mail strategy. This concept focuses on being aware of feelings and adjusting your messaging to connect with them. As a non-profit, storytelling is perhaps the most effective way to attract and engage supporters. In turn, this may be enough to kick-start them into active involvement. Of course, this can be through volunteering time or supporting your organization monetarily.

Providing a personal story about how a donation improved someone’s quality of life can impact your audience in a personal way. An example: Robel, age 7, now has the opportunity to go to school) And another tactic is to share the implications of programs and services lacking contributions and the impacts on those served. An example: Young girls aged 12-16 in Warner Robins, Georgia currently have limited access to [blank] facilities; here’s how you can help. 

A direct mail case study: Fondazione Grigioni  

Fondazione Grigioni is an Italian non-profit organization whose mission is to provide funding for Parkinson’s Syndrome research. It is a perfect case study to understand and recognize a well-thought direct mail strategy.

For the organization’s end-of-year annual campaign, staff sends a grateful message thanking donors and supporters for all of their support. Subsequently, this message is then supplemented with a bag of aromatic plant seeds. As a result, served as a symbol of the seeds planted into the organization and its stakeholders. As the plant grows, it blooms. And this is symbolic of their monetary and time donations. Every day, seeing your plant, you are reminded of your effort, which allows society to grow.

 In conclusion, we can say that these strategies are the engine of nonprofit development. This is an essential tool for the success of the cause they believe in. Given direct mail’s pivotal role, communication skills are a must. PivotPath is an optimal solution for the creation of the techniques and certainty to its success.

Top Tips to Creating Customer Loyalty

Happy April and International Customer Loyalty Month!

International Customer Loyalty Month is an extremely important month for organizations and businesses to make an extra effort when creating a loyal customer base. Customer loyalty is essential to any business, as it can increase revenue, drive repeat business, and defend against competitors. 

Continue reading for the top tips to creating and retaining customer loyalty.

Build better communication:

This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but communication is broad. Consider what elements of communication will help you reach your customers and maintain their loyalty.

First, your organization needs to be present for its audience. Communication efforts must be frequent and relevant to ensure that your organization, message, and products are not forgotten. You will achieve a loyal customer base when you consistently deliver valuable and enjoyable experiences to your audience. Demonstrate consistency in your communication through monthly newsletters, social media, events, promotions, and more. Consistent, positive, and valuable communication tactics will improve your customer relationships and increase loyalty. 

Consistent communication is great, but without listening to your customers, your communication lacks value and meaning. Meaningful relationships that result in customer loyalty are built on effective listening. The best way to determine what your customers want is to listen. So, take the time to look at feedback, read reviews, and understand your customers’ points of view. According to Microsoft, 77% of consumers say they favor brands that ask for and accept customer feedback. Customers will show loyalty to you and your organization if you show loyalty to them and their points of view. 

Create a customer loyalty program:

Creating a customer loyalty program is one of the best and most effective ways to increase a loyal customer base. Because loyalty programs are built around rewards and benefits, they prove to be effective when increasing loyalty and interest. According to smallbizgenius, 75% of consumers say they favor companies that offer rewards. People want to feel celebrated and seen. Customer loyalty programs help your organization highlight and reward customers that have been committed to your brand, and offer incentives to continue their commitment.

Customer loyalty programs can feature:

  • Games
  • Tier Systems
  • Points Systems
  • VIP Benefits
  • Hybrid Programs
  • And many more!

Though they differ in structure, all of these programs include benefits or rewards to incentivize loyalty to your organization. Consider researching the above customer loyalty programs to find out which one is most fitting for your organization. 

Be authentic and transparent:

Your organization must be authentic and transparent to build strong relationships and gain loyal customers. People do not want to connect with brands that are impersonal or machine-like; they want a relationship with a brand that resembles a real person. Your authenticity shines when you share your values and mission to create a meaningful brand. According to the Corporate Executive Board, 64% of customers say that brand values are the #1 reason why they create a relationship with a brand. Being authentic and explicitly sharing and showcasing your brands values and beliefs will help your organization make loyal customers.

In addition to being authentic, your brand needs to be transparent and honest. Honesty is the best policy, even in business, so be upfront with your customers when things do not go as planned or a mistake is made. Customers will be loyal to your organization when they know that you are not hiding anything from them or deceiving them in any way. No one likes to be wrong or make mistakes. However, the truth is appreciated, and remaining honest with your customers will show them that you value their relationship, thus promoting loyalty.

Make life easy for your customers:

People tend to engage more when it requires little effort, so do not make your customers work hard to engage with your brand! Engaging with your organization should be effortless and enjoyable. A good experience will grow customer loyalty exponentially: according to PWC, 73% of consumers say a good experience is the main factor that influences their brand loyalties.

Be flexible and anticipate problems to make your customers’ experience easy and enjoyable. Be reasonably understanding of each customer’s circumstances so that their experience with your organization is as effortless as possible. For example, if you have a customer that was unable to adhere to your 30-day return policy because of the weather or being out of town, be understanding and flexible to their situation. By making it easy on them, you are making it easier for your organization to build customer loyalty and increase retention. 

Though Customer Loyalty Month is during April, customer loyalty should be an effort that carries throughout the year! Creating loyalty takes time, so do not hesitate to ask for help. PivotPath is here to provide you with the best marketing services without the high costs of traditional agencies. Letting us take on some of the responsibility will help you put more time into what really matters: your customers and their loyalty and commitment to your organization.

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