Recently, DigiNotice signed on a condo building that is keen to make the most of their new elevator screens as the great communication tool that they are designed to be. The board of directors, along with many tidy residents, have lost patience with the folks who continue to make a mess of the chute rooms and they think it’s time to get tough. This is one of the first notices that we created to tackle the problem and there was some surprise when a resident took offense, claiming it to be sexist, with an antiquated idea that a mother’s role is to clean up after people. But whether you agree with that opinion or not (personally, I am both a business owner and a mother of four teenagers and I didn’t take offense), I can tell you that there are a few things wrong with this picture.
1. Watch the Tone
While the aim is to get tough on the litterbugs at the site, the tone of this notice is a bit harsh, and it all boils down to one word – “never”. Using words like “don’t ” or “never” or YELLING IN ALL CAPS are generally not too productive. Most people do their best listening when they detect whispering, and while the digital equivalent of a whisper takes practice, it’s very important to master if you want your audience to notice, retain and react.
2. Know Your Audience
One of the most important things to do when broadcasting to an audience is to have a pretty good sense of who that audience is. That means knowing the age, the gender, the income, living situation (example: empty-nesters vs first-time buyers), owners vs renters, pet lovers, anything that gives insight in to who they are and who they perceive themselves to be. This often requires ditching pre-conceived notions, too. (Contrary to popular belief, seniors have been the fastest growing segment of tech adopters and when you think about it, this makes sense since they often have the spare time and money to pursue it.)
3. Ditch the Pic
Many, many times I have been sent pictures of garbage, cigarette butts, even cars crashed into garage posts with the request to post IMMEDIATELY!!! (Yes, the caps were included) Some even had angry red arrows, circles and other lines to make sure the viewer didn’t miss the point. Usually I discourage this practice because it can come off as tattletale-ish and finger-wagging; two practices that are more likely to have the opposite effect than what was intended. People who get told what to do can come right back and tell you what to do. Or where to go, if you get my meaning. Not only that, but garbage rooms are not generally the prettiest picture to display in the elevators for all to see (including would-be unit purchasers). Better to be subtle and get the audience’s attention and yes, even admiration like in this case:
4. Pick Your Battle
Some notices are purposely designed to shock and jolt the audience into a behaviour change, and that’s totally okay. Our “shame campaign” from a year or so ago got major reaction – and major results. Residents were quite upset when their inconsiderate behaviour was brought front and centre for all to see, but the facts were the facts. The Board stuck to their guns and after just 3 days on the elevator screens, the difference on the property was quite pronounced. In the case of the notice that this blog post is about, if someone perceives it to be sexist, it may be best to remove, reword, or rework it entirely. It’s usually just a simple matter of careful thought and planning to achieve an eye-opening notice without offending, or at least without offending the non-target audience.
5. The Creative Brief
Speaking of careful thought and planning, the notice in question was produced prior to any creative brief. The brief starts with an in-depth discussion between the board of directors and/or management team and the creative lead. It’s absolutely critical to the success of a communication strategy and initially the board should be involved because as residents they have a unique perspective and can share their goals and objectives. At DigiNotice, our clients understand the importance of this discussion because it is this discovery session that enables us to respond in the most effective manner possible to achieve the desired results. It also helps to get the board and the management team on the same page, because quite often the communication priorities of one are quite different than the other. If you are going to invest in elevator screens, a communication strategy/creative brief is a must to avoid being a comm-blocker. Remember, in the end it’s about property value and nothing keeps things running smoothly like good communication.
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